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Message of the Month
A Most UNUSUAL Funeral
Volume 6   No. 09                                                                                                                 August 25, 2004
This message was first written  by Samuel M. Smith  August 25, 2004 in response to the funeral of our beloved Brother in Christ Jesus, Isaac "Sonny" Veal, who died in the line of duty while responding to a call as a member of the Honolulu Police Department. Not only was the funeral unusual in the huge volume of police  department members in attendance , but also the  celebration of his entrance into glory in a way that I am sure pleased Brother Sonny's beloved Lord Jesus and also Brother Sonny as he  looked down from glory.                  ©2004 Up Way Publications.
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 less. 

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,

Bro. Sam

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