We're enormously privileged to have Charles and Joanne Hewlett sharing their story in our services this Sunday. Recently they published their book, 'Hurting Hope: What parents feel when their children suffer.'
Their story is deep, raw and honest. Charles notes, "Often church and pastoral leaders don’t have a good theology of suffering and it’s important people do. What happens when the difficult times come? How do we make sense of God and our faith? Over the years we’ve met many people who have had difficulty come into their lives and have walked away from Jesus, which has been hard to watch… We need to learn to value suffering. While we never wanted this to happen to our kids, we have learnt over the years that maybe there are some positive things about suffering as well."
The Hewletts will be sharing 10 reasons they now value suffering. Copies of their book will also be available for purchase.
Jonathan Dove, Lead Pastor, Mt Albert Baptist Church, Auckland.
I just got back from an action packed 5 weeks in hot humid tropical Singapore and Borneo. I survived on adrenalin, and had little sleep as their time is 5 hours behind New Zealand. Then just as I have adjusted, I am back to freezing cold New Zealand.
The MABC email came to in inbox. I didn't want to open it, I wanted to sleep, so I can be ready to start work on Monday. God had different ideas, I read the newsletter, Hmmmm! I wonder what they have to say?
I was up till 5 am on Sunday, I definitely wasn't going to church that morning. God woke me at 10.15am. I might as well go to church and catch up with my friends.
They were awesome. Their story paralleled mine. As Joanne started telling why she wrote their book, I felt that she was reading my mind. It was refreshing to hear from Charles' point of view. Most of these stories are written by women.
I am sure there was not a dry eye, including Jonathan who himself had buried a son.
I am with Sands and have met many bereaved mums and dads, so many of them have been struck by lightening more than once. Joanne and Charles' affliction is more intense than mine, none the less, we are all members of that awful club, club of the bereaved parents.
At the end of the service, I had to go up to tell Joanne how she had inspired me, and I am sure their book would inspired many others. A friend who delivered her son at the same prematurity remembered that daunting time. She empathized with them. She praises God that her son is now a healthy adult, loving God. I didn't control my tears, Joanne would understand.
I wanted to give her a copy of my book, "Dairy of a bereaved mum, Goodbye my baby." When I went to buy their book, after paying for it, it has been sold out.
God Bless you , Joanne and Charles. From an older bereaved mum,"It is OK to cry."
Charles is the Principal of Carey Baptist College, Auckland.