It was Sunday, February 21st, 2010 at 11:55 a.m. and I had just walked into our house from a quick trip up to our cabin to grab an entertainment center that we were going to have painted and placed in our newly remodeled great room and kitchen. As I walked into our house with flooring missing, walls unpainted, and day to day “stuff” all over due to the remodel, my little peanut, Josiah, came running over to me and grabbed my leg begging me to pick him up, “dada up?” I rubbed his beautiful little blond head and responded, “give me a second, buddy, I have to go move the truck.” I proceeded to go out the front door. A few moments later Josiah followed me out.
When I pulled the truck out into the street, I glanced into my review mirror and saw what changed my family forever. In the center of my mirror was Josiah’s little body lying in the middle of our driveway. My heart broke. I knew I had hit my son.
I threw open my door and ran out from the truck to pick up his fragile little body, struggling instinctively to breath. I cried out for my son, Andrew, to have Mom call 911 as I prayed and prayed and prayed for my son’s survival. I brought our little boy into our house where Julie proceeded to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive him. Soon, First Response arrived, taking over our efforts and bringing him to the hospital. Though desperate, we stood on our faith and believed that Abba was going to heal our son. Julie climbed into the ambulance with Josiah and I climbed into our mini-van with my two older sons and we raced to the hospital, hoping for a miracle.
I walked into the hospital to a scene of medical doctors and nurses moving in organized chaos trying desperately to revive Josiah’s little body. There were wires and tubes protruding from his little body as he laid lifeless on the hospital gurney. My beautiful and heartbroken wife sat next to Josiah grasping his little hand, fighting spiritually and believing for a healing miracle that would rescue our son from death. As I looked at the scene before me, everything began to move in slow motion. I knew my son was dying and nothing in this world could stop it. A flood of emotions began to hit my soul as my mind filled with how all this happened at my hands, how I was responsible for my son’s current condition; I, his dad, who was to be his protector, sustainer, and nurturer. As I looked over the frantic emergency room, I noticed my son’s little sock lying on the floor, all alone, out of place. I couldn’t help but think how that sock represented my son in this whole situation. My heart was broken, but my faith stirred. I bent over to pick it up and I kept it in my pocket desperate for my son’s restoration.
At 1:15 p.m. the hospital staff pronounced my son, Josiah, dead. They gave his body to us to hold and say goodbye. As friends and family converged onto the hospital in faith and love, we continued to pray and believe God for a miracle…a resurrection…a healing. We prayed over Josiah until 5:00 p.m. when the nurse, following protocol, was instructed to take Josiah. At this moment, Julie and I resolved to continue the fight for our son. We focused our faith on Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection, resigning to the truth that Abba is bigger than our circumstances. We believed a miracle was going to happen.
We warred with friends and family in prayer for the next four days and nights, believing that a miracle of resurrection would occur. We embraced each other as a family and declared that no matter what happened, our family was going to remain strong and united. Julie, Josh, Andrew and I prayed and committed ourselves to unity and trust in Abba. We kept our focus on His overwhelming goodness, not getting caught up in mental and emotional lies experienced during this battle. It was during this time that the Holy Spirit put on my heart that I would pastor the “funeral” service for my son. I knew that it was not going to be a traditional funeral or celebration of a life, but that I was going to stand before family and friends and declare the truth of Abba’s Word and the power of His resurrection.
The service was called “The Awakening.” The message focused on the goodness of God and the power to be raised. When Josiah did not rise during the first service, we decided to continue worshipping and praying for a miracle throughout the entire night. We corporately believed that Abba was going to release His Kingdom upon us and totally change the circumstances around us. We were given permission to keep Josiah’s body all night as we stayed in the church, worshipping, praying and believing.
It was an amazing scene. Sixty to one hundred people throughout the night would join together in song and dance, praising Abba and all of His goodness, declaring His life-giving truth, and standing together in unity and faith. The children waved flags and danced around Josiah’s coffin, spiritual dance and joy filled the scene as child-like faith and love was displayed and glorified our King and Savior. True worshippers arose that night. We defied religion, traditions, doubt, fear and unbelief as we stood in a place of complete surrender and trust in our Redeemer and our King. We worshipped until 12:00 p.m. on Friday, February 26th, 2010. At that time the mortuary attendants needed to seal the coffin and prepare it for burial at 1:00 p.m.
A shift occurred in my heart and in my faith. I realized that for the first time since Sunday at noon that my son was going to be with Jesus for eternity. There is an emptiness that occurs in a parent’s heart when you have a child die before you. There are many thoughts and lies that begin to fill your head painting pictures of inadequacy and unworthiness. There is a realization, a disconnect that occurs where everything you are experiencing does not feel real. The warfare that was raging in my head and in my heart is difficult to explain, but I realized that at this moment, my faith could not be about what we had experienced, it had to be fortified upon the Truth of God’s Word.
My family and I resolved that we were not going to allow this experience to hinder our faith; instead we decided to pursue God’s Kingdom with more zeal and passion than ever before. We committed Josiah as a seed to the revival movement throughout this earth and began to stand upon the phrase, “on earth as it is in Heaven.” We committed ourselves to be a part of Abba’s great revival movement in these last days declaring and living out His love and power in all that we do.
The morning after we buried Josiah’s body and said goodbye to him for now, I was in prayer at our cabin. The Holy Spirit asked me, “Why don’t you name it the Josiah Center?” Immediately, I understood the mandate. It was now time to establish a revival/worship center in St. Paul to begin establishing God’s breakthrough presence; His dominion in His land. Josiah’s destiny and legacy was to usher people into God’s presence through worship, and the Josiah Center would be an extension of that purpose.
The Holy Spirit has made it very clear over the last three years that the resurrection and awakening that we expected through Josiah’s experience was actually bigger than my son. God is reviving His body and His Church. God impressed upon me that through our faith and trust in Him during Josiah’s accident, He was breaking through the bedrock of generational doubt, traditions and fears. He was releasing a Spirit of faith that would empower His Church to usher in our Lord and King in these days to come!
Josiah was twenty-two months old when he went home to be with Jesus. We long for him each day. However, through his life and his death, we have learned that we cannot ask the questions “why” or get caught up in the “should haves” and “could haves” of circular thinking. The Holy Spirit showed us early in the grieving process that by asking the question “why” the only answer that could come would be one that would sacrifice the absolute truths of the Word of God through our human reasoning. We had to turn our faith toward Christ and all that He accomplished trusting in the residing presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We could not flinch during this great tragedy and trial, but stand united and resolved.
We have stayed focused on Abba’s goodness and live with the expectation of a greater reality in our lives. We have received the mandate to establish a place of worship where the ministry that flows from this center will co-labor with the Holy Spirit and release His love to all that will come. We believe that we will see the sick healed, the dead raised, the tormented set free and the lost saved because that is the truth of the Word of God! Our experience with Josiah and the perceived unanswered prayers change nothing, but rather has ignited a fire for more of Abba’s presence than ever before. Many have tried to answer the question “why” for us, but we are not interested. We know what the Word of God teaches and it is time for the captives to be set free. Jesus Christ did not die in vain!
We praise God every day because we are beginning to see the fruit of this truth as we pray for those who are sick and tormented, and they are set free. We believe that Josiah’s life and his death is a revival call to all those who will hear. It is time for the Bride of Christ to arise and be who Abba has created her to be, living in the New Covenant that the blood of Jesus Christ has established and the Holy Spirit has sealed. It is time for revival in the Church and in the world! Now is the time for true worshippers to arise! Upon the death of one little boy, many will find their heart captured by the love of Jesus Christ forever!
There is a peace and truth within the Word of God that when grasped and believed becomes the foundation from which all experience and all of life will flow. The Bible says that we will face trials, tribulations and tragedies in this world, but to be of good cheer, for Jesus has overcome this world! We have learned through Josiah’s accident that life is fragile and should never be taken for granted. Yet in this frailty lies this dormant, expect excitement for Jesus Christ to reveal His glory at anytime. There is a constant joy found in this place of expectancy that begins to heal the wounds of the broken-heart found in our experiences. We can either live our lives in defeat allowing our past to control our present, or we can put our eyes on Jesus Christ and truly believe His Word, His Blood, His Spirit and His Truth!
As children of God and Christians in this world we are continually engaged in spiritual warfare. The Bible is clear that the battles we face are not flesh and blood but they are spiritual in nature. Therefore, the question remains, how do we live out our lives as Christians in a world that is chaotic, full of death, corruption and darkness? Do we respond in fear and regrets, or do we live by faith expecting the Kingdom of God to invade our lives and heal our land. We, as a family, have decided to embrace the latter. Our family will one day be reunited in glory, but until then there is a dying world before us that needs the love and power of Jesus Christ! It is time for the Church to awaken and truly be Heavens example to a fallen world. There is a greater reality that is expected of Abba’s redeemed and this greater reality was revealed to us through the life example of Jesus Christ. I guess the question still remains will you live out your Christian life in defeat and agony allowing your circumstances to dictate your faith, or will you live in victory and freedom trusting the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ? Will you choose faith this day?
Josiah, son, we will see you soon. We wait for the day of the great reunion in Heaven, but until then…Abba release your GLORY, release REVIVAL and set the captives free!