Important or Famous?

Posted on 08.29.2012

Earlier this month, along with my two sisters, I had the privilege of singing at the funeral of a family friend who had died. He went to be with the Lord, as he had lived his life serving Christ.

We heard that he died. Although he was a man who was well known in the Black community of our city, I do not think his demise was announced in the paper. When we were informed of his death, no one had any details: How did it happen? When did it happen? We finally found out the circumstances of his death after the funeral services were over. His daughter told us he had died alone in his home. No one found him until some time much later.

We were contacted by his wife, who requested that we (The O’Neil Sisters) sing because he had known us all of our lives. He loved our musical family. His precious wife told us that he even had our cds in his car and in his home. I recall him showing up for our concerts. He was always himself—happy, smiling and encouraging. “Everyone” knew him and respected him.  As children, his two daughters played with us girls and he was a good friend of our parents. As life went on, he became like a father to one of my brothers, especially since our dad had died in the early ‘70’s.  The significance of this was that in these latter years, he came alongside my brother at a time when my brother needed it most.

Funerals have a way of bringing people together and causing us to reflect on what is important in life. We reflect on the memories. We laugh, we cry and we encourage each other at funerals, often using the life principles and examples of the person we come together to remember. This funeral service in this unassuming church was beautiful. There was a young man who shared a very touching story about our deceased friend:

He told us that his life had taken a very bad turn and that he had become a drug addict. He could be found at a house in the “bad” part of town where all of the addicts hang out. This man stated that one evening our family friend went looking for him, as he had known the addict and his family for years. When he finally caught up with the addict he asked him if he needed money. The addict said “yes.”  Our friend pulled out a one hundred dollar bill and showed it to the young man and asked him, “Do you want this?” The young drug addict said, “Yes.” The family friend then crumbled the one hundred dollar bill, dropped it on the ground and and stepped on it, then, picking the money up, asked the young man once again, “Do you still want this money?” The young man said, “Yes.” Our friend then told him, “Just because this money is dirty, crumpled and stomped on doesn’t mean it has lost its value.”  As the former addict shared this, everyone in this church was in tears. That young man, accepted Christ as a result of our family friend’s care and concern for him as a valuable person. This man now lives for Christ. He was saved. Our friend was his mentor.

Our friend loved and cared for his community and made a difference in the lives of others. He gave food to the poor and faithfully served his church. He was an important person who took time to help a young drug addict.

Though he died alone and was not famous, he was important to his family, his friends and to God. As someone said, “You do not have to be famous to be important.” Let us live our lives doing what is important.