A tragic loss


Last week I saw a picture of mourners viewing the open coffin of one of the miners killed after a demonstration in South Africa. The coffin triggered  a memory of the tragic death of one of our Youth Alivers more than forty years ago. I’ve only seen that type of coffin in the picture in South Africa — completely closed except a square window opened to reveal the face of the deceased resting down in the satin quilting.

It brought back a memory of a sweet Christian young man, who had been chosen to be one of four young people to travel to the USA to represent the youth ministry.  Not only was Jerome a gifted singer, but Al, my husband, taught him to drive.  This was very unusual for a young black man under Apartheid!  The team practiced together for many months, and then we sent the four guys off to Swaziland as a “dress rehearsal,” where they sang and danced and shared their testimonies.  People loved them.

But Jerome had become very thin during this time.  In fact Al had taken  him to Baragwanath hospital for a check up.  But in the rigid system of the government hospital,  they listened a few minutes to his symptoms and  sent him to a gastroenterologist.  So the team took off with great anticipation for Swaziland  a few weeks later, and there  Jerome died from a  hemmoragic bleeding caused by advanced TB.

Al and my son Nathan drove to Swaziland to bring back a coffin bearing Jerome’s body  in the back of our Kombi.  He spent the night in our garage (How did we get away with that?) and then Al took him out to his mother in Soweto.  As the body rested in his mother’s home, hundreds of friends and family came to console her and to look into Jerome’s face through that little window in the coffin.

In less than two weeks I’ll be going back to South Africa — to Johannesburg, to Soweto, to visit Youth Alive and see many old friends.  And to have many memories, joyful and sad, re-awakened . Probably about things I haven’t thought about for many years — just like that coffin reminded me of Jerome. I look forward to seeing him again– in that wonderful place where we’ll never forget anyone.

About lorrylutz.com

My husband and I spent 22 years working with African young people in South Africa under Apartheid, which deepened my passion for the disenfranchised. During regular returns to the US I earned my MA in Communications at Wheaton Graduate School. Later I became head of publications for Partners International and edited a quarterly magazine. In the 90's I directed the AD2000 Women's Track networking with thousands of international women leaders in Christian ministry. I have written/published twelve books on missions, biography, fiction, most recently two biographical novels about Dr. Katharine Bushnell, nineteenth century crusader against what is known today as trafficking. Daughters of Deliverance and The Queen's Daughters are available in Kindle as well as print on Amazon. I was married to Allen, now deceased, my lifelong sweetheart. We had four sons,( one deceased,) one daughter, and 18 grandchildren. How can I help but praise God for the full life He's given me, and the opportunities even in my senior years, to live purposefully.

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