19 Oct Day 11
Fernando: A Great Loss
by: Philip Smith
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20
In last year’s 30 Days, we dedicated two days writing about Fernando, our residential coordinator, describing the impact of his ministry. Just a few days later, Fernando was taking his 14-year-old son to soccer practice when their car was hit by a bus. Fernando was killed instantly. Nicolas remained in a coma for 7 days.
It is difficult to fathom the impact this had, not only on my family and the children, but on the future of Hope Unlimited. Fernando was a key candidate for top leadership succession in Brazil. My pain and disbelief knew no bounds.
At 42 years of age, a 10-year veteran of Hope, he was a father at heart, not only to our kids, but also to our staff. He modeled positive feedback and making prayer an integral part of every decision.
On that Sunday, Fernando taught Sunday school, and then got in his car to take his son to his soccer game. He was joking with Anderson as he left, saying he’d be home by dinner. His wife, Silvia, was away in Rio de Janeiro, helping their daughter Nicole with preparations for her upcoming wedding, which was coinciding with her graduation from Law School.
When Fernando didn’t return, people worried. He didn’t answer his phone. It turns out, their belongings were stolen out of their car, even as he lay dead, and Nicolas unconscious.
My fear was that the staff as well as the Hope Mountain boys would respond in anger at God. Why was yet another father figure ripped out of their lives with no chance to even say goodbye? Who could ever fill his shoes? And how would his family react? We had recruited them to uproot from Rio and now they were displaced on the Mountain, far away from their family.
My fears were unwarranted. After a week in a coma, Nicolas finally woke up. His sister, by his side, finally told him his father had passed. Nicolas, assimilating the words, closed his eyes for a minute, saying he was saying goodbye to his father. Then he opened his tear-filled eyes and said, “but who is taking care of Hope Mountain?” Well done, Fernando. Even your 14- year-old son had that selfless concern for others before himself.
Even in death, Fernando’s legacy ministered to us. His death was wretched and evil, but “God intended it for good.” His words and teachings became immortalized. The staff reflected on how he had changed them, and vowed to love the children even more deeply, care for each other more unconditionally, and to trust God more completely. By now, he has heard those glorious and crowning words: well done, my good and faithful servant, well done.
During this pandemic, many have experienced tremendous loss, and are searching for meaning. Pray for all who have lost loved ones, including Fernando’s family, who are now back in Rio, and for continued healing for our children and staff. Thank God that in all circumstances, we can trust HIM, knowing that HE can make all things work together for good.