Monday, November 26, 2012

Dea Lieu - January 1, 1960 - November 20, 2012: "To see with their eyes, the beauty of the gospel."

On Tuesday, November 20, we received the very sad news of the passing of our friend and colleague, Dea Lieu.

As you may remember, Dea was the affiliate manager for the partnership in Côte d'Ivoire, called ACLCP (or the "Association of Christians Against Poverty" in English).  After fleeing to Grand Rapids during their civil war, Dea found himself at Dordt College, where he graduated with a degree in agriculture and missions.  He returned to Côte d'Ivoire in 2007, after being away from his family for four years and immediately put his education to work, with the formation of ACLCP, designed to reach subsistence farmers in the 18 Mountains Region. While at Dordt, Dea had been diagnosed with a kidney condition and on my visits to Danané, I observed him paying careful attention to what he ate and drank to take care of his kidneys.  In 2010, Dea came to the US for the Partners Worldwide conference and paid a routine visit to the doctor to have a check up.  At that check-up, Dea was informed that his kidneys were shutting down and that without dialysis or a kidney transplant, he would have about six months to live.
The Board of ACLCP

Dea's amazing Global Business Affiliate (GBA) in Iowa immediately rallied and strived to do the impossible:  to raise the funds necessary to get Dea on dialysis, find a live donor for a kidney transplant, and raise enough funds to keep Dea on anti-rejection medication in the future.  This was not an easy decision, as Dea did not have insurance, so they were looking at having to raise approximately $500,000 USD.  Being the faithful servants that they are, they began to pray, and God began to provide.  Dea ended up qualifying for a certain type of insurance...funds came in to cover the out-of-pocket costs and future meds...and a live donor was found from within the GBA - a faithful group of only five persons, yet a donor found from within!  What an amazing God.

Dea, his wife Charlottte, and myself after a Board meeting in Danané.
Dea had the surgery in January and healed very quickly.  In June, he was released to return to his home, after being gone for 20 months.  He spent the first couple of months being reunited with his family and working on his farm, and then got back to work with ACLCP.  I saw him just about four weeks ago, when he made a brief visit to Liberia where we were working at the time (due to the border being closed, I wasn't able to get across...but Dea found a way to get to me!).  Approximately ten days before his death, he came down with a fever, which developed into a fungal pneumonia.  The drugs that he needed were not in Abidjan and had to be flown in from India.  Being immunocompromised (because of the anti-rejection drugs for the kidney), his body was not able to fight this pneumonia, and he passed away on Tuesday morning.

I spent a couple hours that evening via Skype with the GBA in Iowa, wondering how they were doing with this - having worked so hard to help save Dea's live just a short time before.  And, no surprise to me, I found them weeping yet praising God for His Sovereignty.  They all declared that this is not the end of the road for this work and for this ministry.  Two members of that team (Ron Rynders and Cal Cleveringa) and myself will be traveling to Côte d'Ivoire for the funeral in about a week.  Please pray with us for Charlotte and her five children:  Désiré-Michel, Jean Louis, Fabien, Ange, and Armande.

Below is a brief video made by the Iowa GBA as they were seeking funding for the kidney transplant.  You will enjoy hearing Dea's voice and vision.  I especially like hearing his vision for the church in the brief clip after the credits roll:  "...the beauty and proof of the gospel needs to be lived out; we want as a church to be out with people so that they see with their eyes the beauty of the gospel."

Amen, Dea!
Dea enjoying the fruit of God's beautiful creation, which he thoroughly enjoyed!
Front row (left to right):  Fabien, Armande, Ange, and niece; Middle row:  Dea, Charlotte, Desiré-Michel; Last row:  Jean Louis