Yesterday wrapped up a series of events celebrating the life of Jelani Dante Brinson. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for his family, his friends, and for us.
For those of you who don't know, Jelani was a dear friend of ours who went missing on April 17th, 2009. The friends he was with say he just left the house in a hurry. His body was found in a pond in Anoka a week later. You may have seen it on the news. We still don't know what happened. There are theories and speculation, but they are no more than that. We'll never know, but we DO know that God had Jelani's days numbered from the day he was born, and we know that we can trust Him.
I've known Jelani since elementary school. He was in my brother Joseph's grade, and they've been buddies since kindergarten. He grew up around our house and has always been like another brother.
JP met Jelani a number of years ago through our family. Not long after, Jelani gave his life to Jesus. He started coming to church and was water baptized. Jelani and JP quickly formed a great friendship, and it wasn't unusual for Jelani to stop by our house at any time of day or night to hang out, eat candy, share new music, and talk about Jesus. He was a great friend. You couldn't help but love to be around him. Last July he became the proud daddy of a beautiful girl named Zion. He adored that baby, always smothering her with kisses and bragging about how beautiful and smart she is.
There's no way to answer all the questions we have flying through our heads. Why Jelani? Why like this? Why now? When I first heard the news, I was absolutely destroyed. I've never hurt like that before. I cried until the blood vessels burst around my eyes. The following two days were gray, rainy, and dreary, as if the earth were weeping for losing him. Every time I thought of him, I wept.
But then something happened that I'll never understand. As I watched the rain fall and then begin to clear, I noticed the grass turning green and the trees budding. The verse that came to mind was "weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." And at that moment, God gave me peace. I had never experienced that "peace that passes understanding" until now. We always hear the cliche, "He's in a better place now," but this was different. It was as if in one moment God revealed to me the reality of Jelani's situaion -- he's home! All he ever wanted, all he ever struggled for was to be with God. And now he's there! He has actually met Jesus! That's so GREAT! How could I be sad about that? Of course we miss him; we'll always miss him. But we can rejoice because Jelani partook in Jesus death & burial (baptism), and now he's taking part in His resurrection!!!!!!
He gives us beauty for ashes and a garment of praise for our heaviness. Thank you Jesus! And thank You for allowing us to be a part of Jelani's life. He has left an impression on our souls that we'll never forget, and we're honored to have called him "brother."
Hope you're having fun up there, Jelani! Can't wait to see you again!