I have been out of town and out of e-mail contact this whole week, so I could not respond when I was informed by text message that Grace Wolgemuth had gone home. She is Aunty Grace to many people of the worldwide family of Youth for Christ, who consider her a friend but who want to follow the cultural practice of giving affectionate titles to elders whom they love. I received the news with both sorrow and joy. The sorrow was over the passing of a dear friend and encourager. The joy was because now she is released from the restrictions she had these past few years and because she was going to meet the Saviour she loved so dearly and her beloved husband Dr Sam, the father of the internationalisation of Youth for Christ. How often she has told me over the past few years, both verbally and in writing, that she missed her beloved husband so much.
What I will never forget about Aunty Grace is her smile. It reflected a deeper joy that made her an example to my wife Nelun and I. This joy was the result of trusting in God and knowing that God is good, of having experienced the smile of God upon her life. The ministry brings many blows with it. And the hardest blow is when your spouse dies and leaves you at a time when you need him or her most. But the God who was good all through life does not cease to be good when one’s spouse dies. The experience of God’s goodness in the past gives courage to face the challenges of the present. This is what characterised Aunty Grace even after the death of Dr. Sam. Her smile did not leave her.
A person who knows the smile of God and the joy it brings becomes an agent of healing and refreshment in the lives of others. The joy of the Lord gives strength for the service of the Lord. That is what many, many people experienced through Aunty Grace. What a joy it was to see a wife who was fully and happily behind her husband’s ministry. What a model this has been for us. For me this joy has also resulted in experiencing the blessings of hospitality. The rigours of travel are greatly reduced by havens of rest where one is pampered by love but is also allowed to recoup with the Lord from the strains of travel. To be in the home of an unhappy person would not be a rest. Peace is infectious. The joy of Aunty Grace was always a source of rest to me.
Many Christians today are angry and hurt about what has happened to them. That anger and hurt find their saddest expression when one is old. Aunty Grace demonstrated that the love and sovereignty of God is greater than all the misfortune and unkindness one experiences in life. You can be a happy person because God is good. May the memory of Aunty Grace encourage us to bask in the smile of God until it brings a smile to our faces, so that we in turn can be agents of healing and joy in the lives of others.
National Director, Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka.