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.
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’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.