11 July 2008

Endings... Mark Grings Home-going

Mark in Congo

On June 12, 2008, Mark Grings was promoted into the presence of his heavenly Father, ending his earthly ministry as a missionary first in Congo, Africa, and then in Johannesburg, South Africa. He joined his mother, father, and brother Roy, who had all gone on many years prior, to sing in Heaven's choir that day, which was also his sister Louise Grings Champlin's 80th birthday.

I was privileged to deliver the sad/glad news to my mother that day, interrupting a lively, surprise birthday party in her honor. Her response took a few moments to put into words, but then she reacted as I had expected. She said, "He wasn't supposed to get to heaven before me, I wanted to welcome him." Louise and Mark were unusually close, due much to the fact that my mother was eight years old when their mother died of blackwater fever in the interior jungles of Congo, and Louise became mother to him in many ways.

They went to Bible college together, went out as young missionaries to Congo together, with her new husband and son, Darrell and David Champlin, and remained extremely close even when their ministry paths separated in 1963. The Champlin family was led to Suriname, South America after the Simba rebellion in Congo and their evacuation from that area made returning there impossible for an uncertain length of time. While separated for years at a time by oceans and ministry responsibilities, the bonds of love and family ties never lost their strength.

We spoke by Skype in April and May, even getting to see each other on our computer cameras, not knowing that those conversations would be our last times "together". With the Champlin families ministering in Suriname, and the Grings families ministering in various countries in Africa, family get-togethers are rare and far between. With computer technology constantly improving our ability to communicate "live", the opportunities to talk have become more accessible, giving us contact that in years past would never have occurred without costly flights to the respective countries of ministry.

We thank the Lord for providing computers and access to the technology that has allowed us to be more fully in contact with our respective families regardless of how far apart we may be. In years past, it would have taken weeks by snail mail to learn of the homegoing of a loved one, and while none of us could be in South Africa for the funeral, we will benefit once again from improved technology in having a DVD of the event. The service was attended by hundreds of people whose lives were touched by Uncle Mark's selfless and sacrificial service to His Father, and whose death was a testimony to God's grace.

We miss him, but we thank God for sparing him a lingering, painful death from a malicious form of leukemia. He is survived by his siblings Robert, Elisabeth, Louise and their families, his wife Wyla, his daughter Esther and her family. Louise is preparing a memorial letter of tribute for his life of missionary service, which will be posted in this website, so please return soon for what will be a very special recounting of a life well spent in the service of the Lord.

Please pray for the families who remain behind, for Wyla, whose health is not good, and for the broadcast radio ministry, Nsango na Bomoi, which will be carried on by his son-in-law, Robert Marsh.

Thank you for the opportunity to spread the Word, and share what the Lord is doing in the lives of our families. The heartbeat of God is missions, and the Champlin-Grings Heartbeats website is dedicated to keeping others informed of how God is using our heartbeats to further His.

Rejoicing... Debbie Champlin

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