|August 25, 2004 -A MOST
UNUSUAL Funeral! That is what my family and I attended last evening. The
Apostle Paul was so right when he penned the words, "But I would
not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep,
that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe
that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus
will God bring with him." (1 Thessalonians 4:13,14).
The person who had passed on to
his reward was a black policeman who served the Honolulu Police Department
for almost 25 years and was within weeks or a couple of months of retirement.
He was also married to a very fine Japanese lady for about the same length
of time and had some to know the Lord also about 25 years ago. When I first
knew him in the first week of February 1983, he was still driving a motorcycle
or Cushman scooter with the police department and attending every service
possible at the Calvary United Pentecostal Church then pastored by Rev.
W. E. Scott.
The funeral of our Brother and Policeman
Isaac "Sonny" Veal was anything but a time of weeping and sadness.
This was so noticeable that the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper article
- the top bold headline article on page B2 of their Wednesday, August 25
edition included the sentence, "Although Veal's life ended tragically,
last night's celebration of life was upbeat and those who eulogized him
spoke not of the accident, but of a man who loved his job, his family and
mostly his God."
Apart from the huge number of policemen
and women present, the funeral began much like any other, though the actual
beginning was a police "Fallen Comrade" ceremony. Then came the police
eulogy of their fallen officer and all the honors and commendations and
how liked and respected he was both by the community, persons he went beyond
the call of duty to help and commendations of both officers of lower and
higher rank. Then an assistant pastor at Abundant Life United Pentecostal
Church in Wahiawa, where Bro. Sonny was a worship leader, spoke of how
Bro. Sonny was not just a "praise leader, but a real worship leader."
He explained to that crowd of policemen, firemen, sinners and saints that
the difference between simply praising the Lord is that anyone can praise
the Lord for blessings and good things, but it requires true worship when
it seems that everything is going wrong and you still praise and honor
the Lord. Bro. Sonny was said to be one who could praise the Lord when
things were going badly as well as when all was great.
|When Pastor Kerry Wasson
spoke of Brother Sonny, he said that Sister Donna had called him
to tell him of the accident as soon as she knew and asked him to go to
the accident scene. There, he asked the police if Bro Sonny had spoken
any last words and he had not, but later, on the seat of his vehicle and
scattered all around inside were double-sided business cards which had
a beautifully colorful scripture, "Love the Lord your God with all
your heart, and with all your soul , and with all your mind..."
This whole scripture passage was
included in the news article with Pastor Wasson's comment that Brother
Sonny DID leave some last words, after all. Copies of the card were
made and given to all guests who registered.
So in his passing, Bro. Sonny, who
had brought and invited many to church through many years, may have reached
even more by his funeral.
Because of the multiple chapel configuration
of the Funeral Home, the newspaper made no mention of actual attendance
figures, but far more than 100 police persons in uniform attended
plus the City Prosecutor (Who is in charge of virtually ALL criminal and
misdemeanor prosecution on the island of Oahu) Police and Fire Chiefs and
Police officials from the other Islands of Hawaii, Emergency Medical Technicians,
and hundreds of friends and relatives. Based on my own past experience
as a news correspondent as well as minister, I would guess the total figure
at close to 800. There could have been more, but I doubt there were any
Oh, by the way, the Funeral officially,
I guess, ended with hundreds of Police men and women, firemen and women
EMT's and other City and County of Honolulu employees and officials filing
in a somewhat formal manner past the casket, making a slow and ceremonial
salute as they passed.
But then began a celebration of
praise and worship which never did end. Gradually folks had to leave
and did, but the worshiip service was never dismissed, so far as I know!
Initially, it was Donna's family that led in the final worship service.
Frankly, I was greatly blessed.
I hope you are, too.
For Jesus' sake,