Thursday, December 29, 2005

Prayers for Our Friends

Last night I received word that a very close friend of Kimberley and myself had died suddenly yesterday morning of a heart attack in his sleep. Our brother in Christ, Derek Liebenberg, was only 40, and leaves behind his dear wife Heather and their long-awaited 1st child due to be born in April. I got to know them first in Calgary, where I spent many a weekend at their peaceful log cabin (often having theological conversations with Derek while chopping wood). They have been evangelical 'urban missionaries' of sorts for the past 15 years, living in great simplicity and faith. They poured their hearts and lives into work for the needy and oppressed, especially widows and orphans in North East Calgary. Kim worked for them helping run their office for some time, and I did various volunteer stuff, but mainly they were just like a brother and sister to us both. We spent Christmases together, and went on long car trips. Derek & Heather returned a few years ago to South Africa (where he had grown up) in order to establish a centre of hope for victims of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Bhekulwandle, Amanzimtoti, near Durban. Krista and I were blessed in May to have Derek and Heather attend our wedding. It is hard to believe that he is no longer with us. His mischievious sense of humour was only overshadowed by a great zeal and love for God and neighbour. So your prayers are very much requested for the soul and blessed repose of the servant of God Derek, and also Heather in these last months of her pregnancy, as she grieves the loss of her husband and partner in God's work.

May his memory be eternal!


Simply Victoria said...

oh matthew, this is such sad sad news. we were seated together at your wedding and spoke with both derek and heather. what great people. I'm so sorry for heather and will keep her and their child and derek in my prayers; we all will.

May our gracious and merciful Lord, who rose from the dead, Christ, our True God, through the intercessions of His Holy Mother and of all the Saints, establish the soul of His departed servant Derek in the mansions of the righteous; give rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number his soul among the just, and have mercy upon us and save us"

Matthew Francis said...

Thank you so much, Victoria. I'm really glad you got a chance to meet them.

pasivirta said...

yes, memory eternal.

elizabeth said...

so sorry for you loss--will pray, thank you so much for the honour of praying for Derek, Heather, and thier unborn child. Lord have mercy on him and his family.

RW said...

my prayers are with you Matthew, Kimberley and Krista, for Heather and the baby within and for all of Derek's family.

how very sad.

the Lord gives, the Lord takes away... blessed be the name of the Lord.

Matthew Francis said...

Amen. Thank you all for your prayers and encouraging words.

Krista's Dad, Fr. Phillip, led us in praying the Litany for the Departed for Derek last night at the Akathist/Jesus Prayer service here, and we sang "Memory Eternal" for both Derek and Krista's Gido (Grandfather) who passed away on Dec. 29, 1998.

If you would, please keep on praying for Heather & their child, esp. over the next week or so.

kimberley said...

thank you for your prayers, and for being a remarkable loving community. perhaps one day heather will pass through and you will see why we love her so much. (in fact, she visited st hermans with me a few years ago. they were enroute to South Africa, and Derek had a terrible cold. It was during the SARS thing. He kept us laughing even while being so sick.)

it's been a difficult few days; shock, then unexpected waves of sorrow, i've never experienced this firsthand. I can't fathom what heather will go through.

i'm grateful for the daily prayers that become the natural response. they prepare the mind when these unthinkable things come.

i'm grateful that our community is one that truly shares both the joys and sorrows of life. we all take our turn.

(i might need some extra hugs in the next little while.)

thomasw said...

woe this brutual....what a kick in the head. but i know that this must be somehow for the greater glory of christ....just hard to see it from my limited perspective. i pray that this heather and her unborn child will be comforted and move on and continue to bless His holy Name. this is a brutual test like those of job in times past.