The Wishes Of A Dying Brother

Jeremy Young

After a year long battle with mesothelioma, John (JL) Toney III, passed away July 9, 2009.

JL was a member of the Lord’s church at Buffalo for the last few years of his life and dear brother to us all. I was at the hospital the day that JL was told that he had very little time left and that he would most likely be dead within a week or two at the most. After being told this, he wanted to talk with my wife, Laura, and me. JL wanted to say some things that he thought were very important and things he felt were necessary to be said before he spoke with anyone else. Some of the things we discussed were the arrangements of his funeral, but that was only a small portion of what he had to say. The following paragraphs are a brief summary of our brother’s dying wishes for the church at Buffalo and for all Christians who would seek to be pleasing to God and to have eternal life. 

JL began by telling me to remain sound in preaching the Word of God. He specifically asked me to remain strong because there is a lack of sound preaching in the brotherhood today. He pointed out the generations that came before us, men like Bob Kessinger, who have passed on, and few have picked up the mantle that fell with them. JL pointed out that many congregations, which are struggling spiritually, are doing so because of a lack of sound doctrine being presented. In 1 Tim. 4:1-4, Paul reminded Timothy as a preacher to proclaim the word no matter what the circumstances were. Whether people desire to hear the truth or not, preachers have the obligation to preach sound doctrine. JL understood that it is the Word that has the power to save man’s soul (Rom. 1:16), and that is why Paul instructed Timothy to remain sound (1 Tim. 4:6,7; 12, 13, 15,16). 

JL also wanted to tell the church to remain sound in practice. Several times in the hospital, he mentioned the need for the church to be working and for the church to be busy doing God’s work. He was echoing the very words of Jesus in John 9:4, “I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is still day, for the night comes when no man can work.” JL understood that, for the church to be pleasing to God, they must be doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22) and they need to take every opportunity to carry out the work and do good to all (Gal. 6:10). He also pointed out that part of remaining sound in practice meant the church needed to remain true in her worship to God. John 4:24 requires our worship to be in “spirit and truth.” JL had seen many good brethren turn away from faithful worship to questionable and sinful practices in his life, and he did not want that for the congregation in Buffalo or anywhere else. He reminded me that day of the need to stand against error always, whether it is the popular thing to do or not, to buy the truth and sell it not (Proverbs 23:23). 

Finally, JL wanted the church to stay in the promise of God. He longed to see the church live in love for Christ and for one another (1 Jn. 4:7,8; Jn. 14:15; Jn. 15:13; Jn. 15:17. 1 Jn. 1:7-9). He understood that by walking in the light of the love of Christ one could have hope in facing death. When JL faced death, there was weakness in his voice and in his body. This was the result of the illness that had made him physically weak and the sadness to leave his loved ones behind. However, what was missing in our brother’s voice and in his words was dread or fear. JL did not dread death, but, instead, he viewed it the way Paul did (Phil. 1:21-23): “to die is gain.” JL faced death knowing that he had eternal life because God Who promised is faithful (1 Jn. 2:2,3; Titus 1:2). JL knew that if the church walked faithfully in the love and light of Christ and His Word, that he would see us again one day. The final message JL gave me to tell the brethren at Buffalo, and all Christians for that matter, was he loves you and wants to see you again. 

We can learn a great deal from the wishes of our dying brother. JL departed this life for something much better. If we heed the Word of God and our brother’s advice as it was based upon the Word of God, we too can have the hope of eternal life and see him again. -Rt 2 Box 207-C, Red House WV 25168. (304) 444-1432

Return to West Virginia Christian