Friday, May 11, 2007

Israel Quero Espí

Yesterday, at approximately 8.00 am Spanish time, Israel Quero Espí, 18-year-old son of Spanish Baptist pastor Juan Manuel Quero, and his wife Araceli, died suddenly and unexpectedly. All the symptoms at this time point to bacterial meningitis. The night before, he had decided not to participate in a soccer game with some friends, complaining of a headache. In the morning, he woke up with a high fever, covered with dark splotches all over his body. Within an hour, before they could get him to the hospital, he was already dead.

Juan Manuel is pastor of Buen Pastor Baptist Church in Madrid, where my family and I are currently members. He is a warm-hearted pastor, dynamic leader, and godly man. He is also currently Vice President of the Spanish Baptist Union. Araceli is a quiet, unassuming helpmeet, who loyally supports her husband in the ministry, and serves behind the scenes in many different capacities. Israel was a good friend of our teenage son, Jonathan. He had recently moved out of his home, and was living in the student dormitory that belongs to the church. He had recently made a decision to follow the Lord in baptism, and was planning to do so in the next baptismal service scheduled for this coming month. He had recently passed his driving test, and had just obtained his first car. He was making preparations to enter the Spanish Police Academy, and was excited about his future.

What explanation can be given for a tragedy like this? Humanly speaking, I can think of none. My natural tendency is to want to look for the “silver lining” behind this “dark cloud.” But, at this time, reality makes that very hard to do. Our faith leads us to cling to the hope that we will one day see Israel again. But why did he have to die so young? And why did something like this have to happen to people like Juan Manuel and Araceli, who already have given up so much, and who give so sacrificially of themselves, day in and day out, to minister to others?

I have read the hypothesis that the various religions of the world are all attempts to make sense, one way or another, of human suffering. I think there is more to it than that, but, at the same time, believe there is an element of truth here. All of us as humans--Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians, Christians, or Atheists--have to deal with suffering, at one time or another, and there are many things that don’t appear to make much sense. Yet, I believe that true biblical Christianity offers the only rational and coherent hope in the midst of this grim reality. Because of an all-powerful and all-knowing God, who loves us more than we are able to comprehend, and because of the death of His only Son, Jesus, on the cross of Calvary, we have hope that one day He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and we will know, just as we are already known.

But that still doesn’t take away the pain that I am feeling right now, and that I know Juan Manuel, Araceli, and Elías, Israel’s 12-year-old brother, must be feeling a good bit more acutely yet.

What can we learn from this? First of all, we never know what a day may bring forth. We never know when tragedy may strike in our own lives. It could have just as easily happened to you, or me, or any one of us. I pray God may teach me, and all of us, to number our days, and to use, with a greater sense of stewardship, the gifts, time, and resources He has placed in our hands.

Also, this reminds me there are those around us all the time, who are going through great suffering. Many times, we are oblivious to this, until it strikes so close to home. I pray God would make me a more sensitive person to the needs of others, and allow me to show the love of Christ to those in need, in order that they may find hope in the midst of situations that otherwise give no reason for doing so.

If God lays it on your heart, please pray for Juan Manuel, Araceli, and Elías, and for the Buen Pastor Baptist Church in Madrid, Spain. They are going to need it in the days ahead.

11 comments:

GuyMuse said...

Please express to Juan and family that we are lifting them up to the Lord asking God to wrap His arms around them and grant them grace, peace, and strength during this difficult time. I am glad you guys are there to be there for them.

Strider said...

I have prayed for you, your church and this dear family now. May God bring peace in the midst of chaos and pain.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

I am moved with compassion for this family. They have, thankfully, hope and heaven (1 Thes. 4) that can bring them to some point of closure in the future. God guide them in this dark part of their journey.

Trey Atkins said...

Please know that we are praying for the family of this young man, the church, and your family as well. I am very to hear of this great loss.

Trey Atkins
IMB - Croatia

Alice C. said...

Estaremos orando por la familia Quero, por la iglesia, y por usted y su familia. ¡Que tragedia! Sobre el problema del sufrimiento—mi esposo ha escrito una serie de “posts” sobre este tema. Se encuentra en su blog.

Alice C. said...

Sorry the blog link was wrong. It's here.

David Rogers said...

Thank you so much to everyone who is praying. The funeral was on Saturday, and though there were many tears, the comforting presence of the Lord was also obvious. It was incredible to see Pastor Juan Manuel himself address the crowd gathered at the end of the service, telling how May 10, the day Israel died, was to have been a special day in his life, a happy day, the day he was going to turn in his application to the police academy, and get started on this new chapter. Then he added: However, God had other plans for Israel. In actuality, May 10 was an even happier day for him, the day he was able to leave behind this world, and all its struggles, and be face to face with his Creator, who accepted him, and did not condemn him, on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary.

David Rogers said...

I thought I would also copy and paste these comments lifted out of a separate comment I made over at Alan Knox's blog, as a illustration on a different topic. In any case, I think this shows a little more of how God is working here, and answering your prayers...

"I 'went to church' this morning. It was one of the most beautiful and meaningful times of worship and fellowship in Christ I have experienced in a long time.

The church I go to is fairly traditional, and could be called 'institutional.' Today was what you could call 'open-mike day,' though not everyone used a microphone. There were about 250 people present (normal Sunday morning attendance for us). The pastor and his family were at home recuperating from the ordeal they have been through this week. A 'deacon' of the church 'presided the service.' The 'praise team' had prepared a number of different songs of worship and reflection in which to lead us. Several members of the church had written some words of reflection related to the happenings of this last week, which were read at different points of the service. And, mixed in between all this, were spontaneous prayers, words of comfort and admonition, and testimonies of various members of the congregation. God's Spirit moved through us in a special way in order to minister to a hurting group of people this morning."

David Rogers said...

Alice C.,

Gracias por el "link". ¿Dónde aprendiste español? ¿Eres hispana? o ¿has vivido en algún país de habla hispana?

Bueno, disfruté de los escritos de Eric. Seguiré por medio de "bloglines" lo que diga en el futuro.

Steve Sensenig said...

I've been praying, too.

And I have to say that I was tickled to actually be able to read and comprehend the comments in Spanish! :)

Alice C. said...

Soy hija de misioneros, y nací en Puerto Rico. Mis padres trabajaron con Wesleyan World Missions por más de treinta años. Y si usted ya leyó el blog de mi esposo, quizás se dió cuenta que él y yo estamos con la misma compañia que usted. Pero en estos días estamos en una situación difícil…

Sigo orando por usted y su familia, y por la familia Quero. Que nuestro misericordioso Padre les brinden consuelo y paz.