Saturday, August 19, 2017

From a Loss to a Legacy

Parents who outlive their children experience tragedy that cuts across all expectations.

For parents of children with long-term illnesses or severe birth defects, vulnerability is always lurking; yet no amount of warning signs will place them beyond griefs reach.

But if loss strikes without warning, trauma infuses tragedy with unanswerable questions, even though no answers can substitute for a missing physical presence or lost potential.

Last year, our local football season closed with tragedy, as teenager, Nathan Prince collapsed on the field – his heart stopped.  For non-Australian readers, our football is a very physical game with no off-side rule, so opposing forwards, half-forwards, backs, half-backs and centers match up across the field. Bumps and tackles arise continually, and Nathan was felled by one such bump. 

As league chaplain, I was called in to be with his family, whose faith was tested through ten exhausting days of unsuccessful intensive care. I’m still inspired by their generous faith, which grew despite their grief over losing a son who had definite professional potential.  

Instead of locking onto pain or revenge, they have trusted God to initiate a program for securing heart defibrillators for sports clubs everywhere.

Now, less than nine months later, over two-thousand sports clubs have taken delivery, so Nathan’s loss will be quietly remembered in future emergencies.

The Ballarat Junior Football League has also publicly recognised the quality of his skills and sportsmanship – to inaugurate the annual Nathan Prince Medal, to be given to the best junior finals-series player.

Noel Mitaxa,

On behalf of a church near you,

Inviting you to explore God’s love

 

Noel Mitaxa is from South Eastern Australia and has been in ministry since 1973, firstly with Churches of Christ – similar to the Disciples in the USA – until 1990, when he moved to a faith-based inter-based inter-church sports ministry of sports evangelism, sports chaplaincy and sports media, before returning to pastoral ministry with Baptist Churches in 1996.

Throughout his ministries, he has always aimed at building the kinds of churches that express God’s love practically, as much as verbally.  Most recently, this included a community centre for woodworking, a community garden and counseling and education programs.

He also enjoys the methanol fix of speedway chaplaincy, in which he has served nine seasons as the Head Rev of all those rev heads!

He and his wife Judy have been married for 35 years; their four kids have grown up and they have three grandchildren.

His writing began in 1982, with his first weekly Good News column, which has always focused on helping unchurched people to realize that God loves them and that He is already there for them.  The column has also been a tool for feeding and starting ‘water cooler’ conversations among Christians and non-Christians.  He also writes for Cypress Times in Houston TX.

 

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