I lost my most frequent commenter this week. More than that, I lost my brother — half-brother, to be precise, but really my brother.
Arthur Dash was born in 1950 in South Africa. When he was four years old, his mother died of pneumonia. Shortly after, his father remarried, but the marriage lasted only six months. When Arthur was nine, his father remarried again. When he was 17, his father kicked him out of the house, right around the time I was born to his step-mother.
Arthur had a hard life. For some years, we had no contact with him. He viewed himself as the black sheep of the family. I met him for the first time as a young adult in 1988, and we began to see him more frequently, along with his wife Patti.
Arthur was what you’d call a complicated personality. He had a deadly and shameless sense of humor, often at his own expense. He was kind and generous. He loved the Lord. But he also had his issues with churches, occasionally struggled with depression, and he was honest about his hurts and struggles.
In 2006, a month before our father’s death, he travelled to England to pay his respects. After the trip, he wrote:
All in all, I enjoyed the trip. I am much more at peace with myself and Dad, having had the opportunity to see him and tell him I love him. When we left him on Saturday, and I repeated that last statement, he actually said, "Me too!"
Arthur was a frequent commenter on this blog. More recently, he would email his comments. When I moved from pastoring to church planting, he expressed surprise that I would “start a church from the ground up” and “be the jack of all trades.” But then he wrote:
It is God who gives us the desires of (in) our hearts, and He who calls us to travel the paths He has chosen for us. It is also God who made the maps and leads and guides us on our journey, and He who has promised to supply us the necessities along the way. All I can do is stand in the gap and support you as you follow the calling on your life.
He gave me this advice: “Just remember that your very survival in your new adventure depends on your dependency upon God, His Son, and The Holy Spirit.”
When we were going through a difficult period, we emailed him, along with other family members. Arthur replied:
I was up most of the night, thinking and praying. Maybe I have found my purpose after all? Even the marines need tactical support, you know! I may not be capable of front-line ministry, but I am capable of prayerful support of those who fight in the trenches!
He would regularly encourage me in our church planting efforts:
Bro., I wish I lived closer to you. This is the kind of church I would love to be a part of, at least judging by your Mission Statement.
I pray that you continue, successfully, to be weak and helpless, and to be the church that God has called you to be.
His last email to me was characteristic of his humor. He described a recent fall in which he hit his head. When I told him I was sorry to hear this, he told me that he thought it was “hilarious” and that “At my age one no longer has any pride…And, no my head did not hurt. There would need to something in there for it to hurt.”
I was going to see Arthur this coming Saturday, but sadly, I’ll have to wait longer now. Arthur died in his sleep this past Tuesday, June 23.
He wrote this poem eleven days ago. “Not particularly good, but it's the best I could come up with during my personal worship,” he said.
I loved you because You first loved me.
Savior. Redeemer. You are everything to me.
My Fortress, my Banner. My hands towards heaven I raise.
My Healer. Provider. You are worthy of all praise.
I loved you because You first loved me.
You became a Man, and died upon a tree,
And conquered Death, Almighty God,
Joint Heir, Son of Man, dare I make You Lord?
Yes, we loved You because you first loved us.
Upon a cross You were nailed and trussed.
A crown of thorns upon Your head.
You died that we may live instead.
Oh, What A Wonderful Savior!