Looking for answers in Pines tragedy

It took us a long time to walk through Pines Bible Camp with our daughter to retrieve her camping supplies.

Re: Tragedy strikes at summer camp,” July 25

It took us a long time to walk through Pines Bible Camp with our daughter to retrieve her camping supplies. She was there training as a young leader when the disaster struck, with 70 mph winds striking the tops of the trees. They came crashing down, hundreds of them. Thankfully a couple of young men helped her get away from the falling trees and to safety in the open parking lot nearby.

It was like I would imagine a war zone. Trees snapped in half or uprooted and down, cabins and buildings damaged.

One 11-year-old boy, Richard, loved by all, had died because of the storm.

Families and children made their way, most very quietly, toward the various sites. Some openly wept. Some stood still, reflecting over what had happened the day before.

Just a few days before, we hosted The Gathering 2012, with South African farmer/speaker Angus Buchan, whose life is depicted in the award winning film Faith Like Potatoes.

Buchan, 64, and wife Jill have five children of their own, along with 28 adopted Zulu children. Who better to give an inspiring talk about love, marriage and family to about 400 people that evening?

Young people, older people and whole families attended. Some of the youth who have attended Pines Camp were there and some with their parents.

The weekend was all about family renewal. Love for God and love for family were presented as the two top priorities in life.

Buchan used his own experience as a reference point, having collapsed from two heart attacks in 2009 after speaking in front of 200,000 men at his Shalom Farm near Grey, South Africa at the Mighty Men’s Conference.

Buchan said he was laying on his front lawn, surrounded by family. He couldn’t talk, but he could hear everything. He spoke about how he was ready to die, that he was in perfect peace with God and was ready. But he wanted so much to talk and say goodbye to his family and could not.

Thousands of men prayed for him as an emergency helicopter took him to Petermierizberg Hospital. There they confirmed Buchan had suffered from two heart attacks.

Miraculously, he was back on stage sharing the next day. No heart damage. Buchan shared with the men about the brevity of life and how we need to make peace with God and those around us while we have time. We can’t afford to have broken relationships, especially if we have the power to do something to restore them. The cost is too high. He thanked the men for their prayers.

At the service for little Richard in Christina Lake,  those values were well expressed and sensed by those of us who attended. He has a beautiful family and many friends.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and all the others who have suffered such losses these past weeks. Our prayers and our thoughts are with them and for them.

Our first daughter, Rebecca, died from heart complications some 27 years ago now. At times like these, it does not seem nearly so long ago.

I read something that, as a young and broken parents, helped us back then: “If we believe that our loved ones are with Jesus, and if we believe Jesus lives in our hearts, then they are never very far away.”

That has always encouraged me. I hope it may help someone else today.

Jeff Zak

Nelson

 

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