Monday, December 17, 2012

The Funeral of Dea Lieu

I returned from our trip to Côte d'Ivoire this past Wednesday, where I had the privilege of attending Dea Lieu's funeral.  I traveled with Ron Rynders and Cal Cleveringa, two members of this partnership's Global Business Affiliate, who have known Dea for many years and were of great assistance to him during his illness.  In addition, Tom Corson, the Director of SIFAT (Serving In Faith and Technology) also joined us for the trip - SIFAT was the first organization that Dea came to know when he first came to the US in 2004.

Ron described this funeral as the most cathartic funeral that he has ever attended.  I agree - significant events like this (and weddings) are much more emotive in West Africa than in North America.  Wailing and crying are not only appropriate, but expected.  There is something very freeing in that.  The funeral process begins with the moving of the body from the morgue to the home, which happens the day before the funeral.  There is then a wake, or some call it a Christian Vigil, which takes place during the night - a time for prayer and sharing, watching over the body, until laying it to rest the next day.  The next morning is the funeral service and then the burial.

Here are some pictures which will allow you to share in this experience to some degree.

Dea's body moved from the morgue.  Many people gathered for this, while the choir sang and led in worship. 
Dea's truck was used to transport the coffin from the morgue to his house.  People followed behind on foot.
At the morgue - the children holding and comforting each other.
At Dea's house - Behind his casket was the verse from 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
Two guards stood by Dea's casket during the entire wake.

This man gave his life to Christ the morning after the wake, stating that hearing the testimony of Dea, recorded in June upon his return to Côte d'Ivoire, convinced him.
Several of the one thousand people, waiting for the funeral to begin, after being up all night from the wake.
(Center) Dea's father, who gave his life to Christ several years ago.
It was not all sad though.  When singing a song about God being our refuge, everyone got up to dance, including us, much to the crowd's delight!
The transport of people going from the funeral to the burial site.
On Dea's farm, where he was buried.  Choir in the background.
At the graveside.  I had the privilege of holding Charlotte's hand and supporting her physically at this difficult time.
Dea was buried on his farm.
All these people needed to be fed - not just once, but for several days.  So much cooking was constantly going on behind the house.
This was just a portion of the firewood needed to cook for all the people at the wake and the funeral!
Charlotte, and her oldest son Désiré-Michel, were given a print out of Question and Answer #1 from the Heidelberg Catechism, translated into French.
The group from Iowa, who supported this partnership over the years, gave me a copy of the Q & A #1 of the Heidelberg Catechism when Bob died - it now hangs in my living room.  This statement of faith, which now Charlotte holds as well, has brought comfort to so many people over the years.  If you are not familiar with it, I have copied it below. 

Q. What is your only comfort
   in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong—
body and soul,
in life and in death—
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.

He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.