Our daughter, Denise, was working at a coffee shop at the tender age of sixteen when she met Andrew. She was busy working on a Bible Study she needed to complete before the next gathering. He inquired as to what she was working on and Denise over the coming weeks and months shared the Gospel with him. She explained how Jesus had died for us because He loved us even though we were sinners. It was His desire was that we all come to know Him, ask forgiveness and live for Him. One day, Andrew did make that life changing commitment to live for Jesus.
He seemed much happier and a little more settled. Andrew had a rough upbringing. He was a sickly child with allergies and asthma and was in and out of hospital when he was a child. His father had left before he was born and his mother had remarried. His step father treated him poorly and was abusive at times. There was also distance between Andrew and his only brother. Although very intelligent, Andrew failed to reach his potential and struggled in life.
Andrew studied the Bible and was really trying to be the man God wanted him to be yet he still struggled with his past. He took courses on how to be a man for God and to be a Christian husband before they were married. After they were married, Andrew appeared to have settled down and worked hard but soon after their second child was born, he fell back into some old habits and life became very difficult for Denise. They separated for a while giving Andrew time to seek counseling and deal with his issues. Denise and the children moved in with us during this time.
Andrew tried to overcompensate for his insecurities with other things. He needed to be in control and show that he was confident. He was in his element when he refereed hockey because there he was the one calling the shots. He always thought that he was right and no one could tell him anything different which presented as arrogance. He certainly put others off by this attitude.
After much forgiveness and restoration, they recommitted their lives to one another and Denise and the children moved back into their home with Andrew. However, Andrew could never sit still and was often running from coffee shop to coffee shop when Denise and the children needed him. We knew He loved the Lord but life was just too difficult for Andrew. He lacked focus and concentration.
One day Andrew collapsed at a coffee shop and was rushed to the hospital. The prognosis was not good. He had esophageal cancer of the very worst kind. That evening, the decision was made to move Denise, Andrew and their two small children, back home with us. The doctors operated but the news was not good. Andrew’s cancer had spread and was given about a year and a half to live. They did what they could as he was so young, only thirty two years old.
During the next year and a half, Andrew had rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and our front door became a revolving one. During those months Andrew would often come to my husband just to chat and glean some insight into some of life’s challenges. He shared with Andrew not to allow his love for Jesus be overshadowed by some of his personal issues he was struggling with and feeling guilty about. He told him that God understood his struggles and not to focus so much on his guilt but rather on what was most important – his faith and family. God knew Andrew’s struggles just how he knows each one of ours.
In late April of 2002, Andrew’s cancer came back with a vengeance and soon he was taken to the hospital then moved to Lisaard house. He was only there for a few hours when he passed away. On his deathbed, Denise and a pastor friend of ours saw Andrew suddenly peer upwards, beyond Denise’s glance -far, far beyond. It was the moment that Andrew saw Jesus and went to be with Him. The pastor was so moved by what he saw and related that he had never before experienced such a beautiful moment with anyone on their deathbed. He knew that Andrew had been taken home and he could now sing and praise his Saviour. His earthly trials, pain and suffering were over and he could bask in the warmth of the Son forever. John 16:33 is written on Andrew’s tombstone. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Denise then found herself with the responsibility of raising two children without a father. Soon she and the children moved into their own home. She began working but wanted a career instead of a mundane job. Because she removed herself emotionally from Andrew when he was ill, she was able to attend to his every need; in fact, this changed the focus of her life. After Andrew’s death, she went back to high school to pick up her sciences even though she already held a university degree. She then went into nursing and graduated as an RN and now works as an ER nurse at a local hospital. Her favourite verse in the Bible is from Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Another entry by Anne Snider
Debi Snider... more