The following was written by Lonnie Melashenko on Friday, June 21, 2013.
My dear Dad just passed away this morning. A prince and a great man has fallen in Israel. He left like he lived. Quietly. Graciously. With gentle dignity. Without demands or harsh words or even a frown, he surrendered himself—a tired, frail, humble gentleman—into the waiting arms of his Savior. Death, selfish and cursed enemy of man, won another battle.
But wait! Psalm 116:15 clearly states, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” And Revelation 14:13 adds, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth...They rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”
Rudy called at 3:24 this morning and left a message on my cell phone (we’re here in South Lancaster, Massachusetts for camp meeting appointments this weekend) – “the dreaded call,” he indicated. “He’s done. He’s done. Our dear Dad just passed away.” Rudy was with him at the very end at 2:15 singing songs. A precious time. A sacred time. “A time to keep.”
Dad’s works do follow him. For millions of radio/TV listeners Dad was a special “basso profundo in excelsis” as HMS Richards used to call him. With his big bass voice and giant bear hugs he came into our lives; he left footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same. He was my hero. Larger than life. What a great father. I salute the life of this Herculean spiritual giant, a modern ambassador for his best Friend, Jesus. His integrity and magnanimity, his deeply spiritual faith and old-fashioned values. His incredible gift communicating Jesus through sermons in song together with his wife and five sons—Lonnie, Joedy, Dallas, Eugene and Rudy—the “Singing Joe Melashenko family.” His ministry as “The Gospel Singer” bridged culture, age, gender, ethnicity and reached across to audiences spiritual and pagan alike. Hard working. Honest. He loved his family. He loved his wife Anne. He loved his church.
Rudy called me from the Hospice Center in Paradise Tuesday night and put the speaker phone in Dad’s ear for me to “say Good-Bye” and hear Dad attempt to speak. Just heavy breathing with a deep rattling in his throat. Not the Dad I remember. But now he is finally at rest. Asleep. Taking a well-deserved nap from the Kindergarten of this life before he hears the call of the Lifegiver and resurrection to the University of the Hereafter. That’s the next voice he’ll hear: “Joe! It’s time to wake up!” Yes, Jeannie and I are weeping, but we thank God for “The Blessed Hope” without which we would be most miserable. Thank you Dad, for being a living legend and for your generous life’s testimony. You touched my heart. You touched my life. And I am eternally grateful.
Good bye, Dad. Sleep well. See you in the morning.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5345