Today we buried a good friend of mine and my family’s. He was taken before his time, and I want to honour him. He was one of those rare people who, while you have known them a long time, and have probably annoyed the CRAP out of them, they never stop being true champions and cheerleaders for your ministry. My heart is truly heavy in me today at the passing of one such precious person.
The best way that I know how to honour my brother is in writing. What follows is an edited version of what I shared at his funeral.
Four weeks ago, my brother Jason stood up on the stage at our church and publicly honoured me. Today, I want to write and share this with you to honour his memory.
We often joked that we were brothers – both called Jason, both from West Auckland, both went to Avondale College, both have last names starting with ‘H’, both married Brazilian women who are younger and far better looking than we are, who look so alike that they could be sisters. We were basically twins – despite the fact that he was 16 years older and Maori!!!
The truth is that, while we may have been joking, it was true. My wife and I first met Tati and Jay (as he was known to everyone) about 13 years ago, and we were instant family. We suddenly knew what it meant to be SO bound to people with love and common purpose who, while they weren’t related to you, might as well have been family.
Jay WAS my brother, in every sense of the word. He WAS uncle Jay to our kids, he was family. We have so many wonderful memories of him, simply because he was the sort of person who easily created those memories in people’s lives. In our house Uncle Jay is the ultimate authority, when the kids get too unruly we tell them that we will call Uncle Jay, and he will have a chat with them!
“Uncle Jay doesn’t like it when people do that sort of thing!”
“Uncle Jay doesn’t like it when people say those sorts of things to their brother or sister!”
We shared Christmas, birthdays, New Years Eve parties – he was always impressive on the dance floor! But we shared quiet moments too – picnics in the domain on a sunny New Years Day, BBQs – watching him wrestle with the charcoal, trying to get it lit, going on holiday and debating the merits of a film we were watching while he and my wife secretly ate all of the Tim Tams!
My brother was larger than life in so many different ways. I remember the first time that I saw him rip a phone book in half, or bend an iron bar with his teeth, or snap a baseball bat with his bare hands, or blow up a hot water bottle until it burst!
But, the thing that stands out for me, the thing that most impresses me about Jay, was the size of his heart. The amount of genuine love that he felt for everyone he met, the way that he could connect with anyone instantly, he could make them feel welcome, he could laugh, or cry, or pray with, or give a world of wisdom, exactly when it was needed. That is the part of him that I will miss the most – the huge bearhugs, the massive belly laughs, the sacred hongi, the straight up talk, the huge heart for anyone and everyone, and his deep, deep love for Jesus which flowed out into every area of his life.
My brother, you are home now, you are where we all long to be, you have finished the race, you have run your course, and you have been called home. Thank you for all of the wonderful moments that we had together, you have blessed my family and I more than you will ever know. From all of the Heale family, we love you, and we will mourn you until we see you again in that great resurrection of the dead.