Graham Staines' widow comforted by one thought
THE widow of Queensland missionary Graham Staines says she is comforted by the thought of seeing her husband and young sons in heaven.
Gladys Staines shared her reflection on the deaths of her husband and young sons, Philip and Timothy, on the 20th anniversary of their deaths in India on January 22/23, 1999.
Graham was born in Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast and grew up around Ipswich before working for years with lepers in India.
He and his sons were burnt alive by Hindu extremists while they were sleeping in their Willy jeep stationwagon.
"That night changed not only our lives and the lives of extended family but also the community in which we lived and served,'' Gladys wrote.
"The ripple effect extended to the whole nation of India in some way and to countless others around the world. We have been deeply touched by wide public acknowledgement of our family throughout India, including by many institutions and the government (even the Padma Shree Award!).
"Those violent events were used by God to show his message of peace and forgiveness. We are very grateful for people's prayers and care since that time.
"I do miss my children Philip and Timothy, I miss seeing them grow up, and who they might have been. I miss my husband Graham whom I dearly loved.
"At the funeral Esther and I sang Bill Gaither's song "Because He (Jesus) lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone, Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living because He lives".
"That is still my experience even if life seems hard and a struggle, when sadness and evil seem to abound, I know that I can continue to trust God to be with me each and every day. This is the hope we have in Jesus.
TRAGIC EVENTS STILL OCCURRING
"I am reminded that such tragic events as our family experienced are not confined to just the past, but that there still are many people around the world experiencing trials and severe suffering through no fault of their own.
"It brings me great comfort to know that God can bring good even out of evil deeds.
"Indeed, over the past 20 years God has comforted me as I read the Bible.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of
all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble ……. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4.
"I am confident that my husband and sons are now in heaven with Jesus. This brings me peace and the hope of meeting them again.
"A verse from the Bible that my son Philip loved is from Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble".
"God knows what each of us is going through and continues to strengthen us.
"In His refuge and strength God enabled Esther and I to forgive. Forgiveness does not take away all the consequences for the victim or perpetrator.
"Unforgiveness brings bitterness and it affects our health and relationships, while forgiveness brings healing to the person who forgives.
She urged people to keep supporting the work she and her husband had been involved in for decades.
"Please remember the Mayurbhanj Leprosy home in Baripada where Graham worked.
"For 120 years the home has and continues to treat and care for persons affected by Leprosy. Leprosy is not a thing of the past, but it still affects people and causes deformity if left untreated."
The Graham Staines Memorial Hospital inaugurated in 2004 continues providing health care to people from all walks of life.
The Philip and Timothy Community Hostel at Rajabasa village, a short distance from Baripada provides a place for boys from the interior villages to be cared for and to study at a nearby school, also providing tuition.
Rajabasa Rehabilitation Farm and 2 girls hostels also help a wide range of people.
"While I have no ongoing role in the management of the Leprosy Home and associated activities, I keep those in Mayurbhanj close to my heart and in my prayers.
"North Queensland, Australia is now my home where I am close to my growing family. My daughter Esther and son in law Reuben with their four children live close by.
"It is a real joy and special privilege to be near my four beautiful grandchildren.
"I now work as a nurse in a local hospital and volunteer as a Christian religious instructor where it is wonderful share Jesus as part of a local government school community."
Graham Stuart Staines was born on January 18, 1941 he was 58 when he died. He arrived in India on January 18, 1965 at the age of 24.
Philip Graham Staines was born on March 31, 1988. He was 10 when he died.
Timothy Harold Staines was born May 4, 1992. He was just six when he died.