Joey worked with us last summer at Camp On Wheels. We’ve known his family for a long time. They came as campers to TWR and Joey was one of Stuart’s campers. Joey worked with COWs their first summer as well. He is a upperclassman at IBC in Phoenix. Last week a group from IBC hiked the Grand Canyon as they do each year. Joey and his younger brother Mark and sister were with the group. Details are sketchy from where I sit at this point, but the fact is that on Thursday 3 people went into the Colorado river at the bottom of the Canyon and didn’t come back out again. Among those three were Joey and his brother Mark. I’ve spent the greater part of the last 2 days asking “why Joey?” I ask it because the Joey that I know loves God with all of his heart. He was training for the ministry and had already made a huge impact in a church work he was helping with in Phoenix. He treated people with respect and compassion, especially the kids at camp. There was always a BIG grin on Joey’s face, he loved life, and loved to have fun. I wonder why him instead of so many others?? Why take one who’s heart was so bent on serving Jesus instead of one of the many who have turned their back on him, or even shaken their fist in His face? Why Joey when we were so happy to know him, and looked forward to working together with his ministry in the future? Why Joey when now there will be a void that it will take many to fill? Why Joey?
I don’t have an answer to the why exactly, but I do have a thought that helps it. Stu reminded me about how much Joey loved God. Quite honestly he puts me to shame! And the thought came to me that like Enoch, God wanted to be with the one who loved him so much. I think of how it was when Stu and I were engaged but apart while he was in school. I loved him so much and just wanted to be with him. Now Joey is with His Jesus, the One he loved so much. I need a reality check. Too often I think that this here is our reality, but it’s not. Our reality is eternity, and there’s only a very thin veil between us and God. For Joey that veil has been removed. I know he is having fun, and is filled with joy beyond compare, and I can see that big ear-to-ear grin on his face even now.
I can’t change what happened. I still wish it hadn’t happened, but I know God can see the bigger reality of the situation. I’m so glad that I got to know Joey. He and Mark are safe now in the arms of Jesus. We will miss them here, but never forget that we will see them again! Joey has left a lasting legacy in the lives that he touched. I would be thrilled if our boys grew up to be godly young men like Joey. We’ll miss you, but hopefully learn to be more like Christ through your example. Thank you, Joey!
Please join me in praying for both families who have lost their loved ones. At this time Joey and the other young man have not been found. Pray that they would be recovered quickly. Thanks!