To live is Christ, to die is gain

Alan Lester

As many of you, my friends, already know, it pleased the Lord, at 21:45 on 17 October, to receive my beloved wife and companion, into glory unspeakable. I praise Him for the wonderful 19 years I was privileged to enjoy her. My daughters and I will miss her very much.  –Alan Lester’s Facebook post, Oct 18, 2012

Living Hope Church suffered a heartbreaking loss last week as God suddenly and unexpectedly called Charleen Lester to her heavenly home.  Charleen was a loving and devoted wife to Alan and mother to Hope (age 10) and Chyreece (age 16).  In the short time that we have known the Lester family, we have grown to love them dearly.  We vistited their farm last month and were so moved by their passion to make much of Christ.  We posted about their dream and prayer for their property, Grace Manor, here.  After church on the Sunday before Charleen went home, I stood in the church parking lot chatting with her, making plans to have their family over for dinner the following Sunday.

Charleen, Alan, Chyreece and Hope

My dear friends, I have been overwhelmed by your love. We are broken but enthralled by Charleen’s gracious home call. She began to feel unwell just after 9 last night. She deteriorated quickly and I put her into the car to get her to the hospital. I was only on the road for 10 minutes when she died in the seat next to me. – Alan Lester, Facebook, Oct 18, 2012

The news of Charleen’s death was a devastating shock to the members of Living Hope and many members immediately drove the hour and a half to be with the Lester family.  Our sweet Marissa is close to precious Hope Lester, and that first day her grief was inconsolable.

This past Sunday, our first without Charleen, was an emotional church service as Pastor Josh addressed the congregation and Alan stood up front at the sound system as he has faithfully done every Sunday with tears streaming down his face.  When Josh asked for prayer for the family, the first to rise to his feet and lead us in prayer was Alan.  His rock-solid faith and assurance in the hope that comes from faith in the Solid Rock, the One who conquered sin and death, amazed and moved us all.  He was undoubtedly one who was grieving, but not like one who has no hope (1Thess 4:13)!

Preaching with deep conviction, Josh assured us that God is on His throne and that He is always for us and loves us.  He reminded us to look at the cross as proof of this glorious truth.  The church worshiped in song with “It is Well with my Soul” not once, but twice and before the second singing, Newton reminded us of the story behind this beloved hymn. Read this amazing story of faith here.

Charleen

Charleen’s funeral service will be this coming Saturday, and Alan plans it to be large and loud, a joyous celebration of a faithful saint called into her glorious home!

It has been so beautiful to witness the body of Christ stand together and weep with the Lester family.  Charleen’s passing has reminded us all that we are merely sojourners in this life and that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Cor 4:16-18

 Thank you, dear friends, who responded to our email sent out last week requesting prayer for this beloved family.  Please continue to pray for them.  It is so obvious that their hope and faith in the living Christ has sustained them and carried them.  Please pray that this continues for the long road ahead as they make a new way.

8 thoughts on “To live is Christ, to die is gain

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this – you helped us feel like we were right there, weeping with you all and also clinging to the hope of Christ together. So intense.

  2. Hi Clarks — thinking of your new family — such a sad story about Charleen. Do they know what actually happened to her so suddenly? Praying for you all!! Daria

  3. Thank you so much for the update. Our hearts were broken with the news of Charleen”s passing last week. Our concern has been for her family and you guys as well, so it was so good to have this post. We love you all so much…words don’t express what we are feeling for you and the Lester’s. We wish we could just be there to sit with you and comfort you at this time of grief.
    Know however that our prayers continue. Give Marissa an extra hug from Miss Melo, Julia too.
    Love you guys, miss you so much!

  4. Pingback: Charleen Lester with the Lord « The Drews' News

  5. I can’t imagine losing my Valerie. This is so heartbreaking, yet it is so encouraging to see a man whose faith is so strong, that he can still love and praise the God who saves even in his time of mourning. My faith is tiny in comparison and I can only hope to achieve a faith like his someday. Our love and prayers are with you all and OUR (it’s still yours too) home group prays for you regularly.

  6. Wow, what an amazing witness to the overwhelming love of our heavenly father… to have such strength and peace and assurance in such a sudden and painful loss… My heart aches for Alan and his girls, of course I think of your girls as well. Give all your beautiful kids a hug from their cousins… Praise God for he is the Great I AM, he is our everything. Loving you and your new family from across the sea… the Melonis

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