Death touches us all. But when a parent dies, we sense our own mortality. We sense our own passing of earthly time.

And we grieve. Oh, yes, we do. Not like those who do not have the hope of Jesus, though.

And that’s Mandla Kunene’s and his father Mfumbane’s story.

Wrote Echo VanderWal to The Luke Commission’s team of 350 last December 7:

“It is with sad hearts that we let the TLC family know that last night Mandla’s father passed away. Please pray for the family at this time.”

“On another hand, I want to thank Jesus for his amazing grace. Oh, what joy to know that on November 6, 2018, Mandla’s father came to the Miracle Campus, because Mandla asked the team to help him physically and most of all spiritually. Exactly one month before he passed away, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior! Today he is walking for the first day of forever in heaven.”

“We love you Mandla. Thanks for trusting us to journey with you and to minister to your father. It is a miracle we will remember for the rest of our lives,” said Echo.

Mandla leads the assets team, which includes the construction team and the security staff. He is a key DNA pillar who understands deeply the role of compassion and love in healing. He simply loves working for The Luke Commission, which he tells new recruits is a calling, not a job. He is the delighted father of two daughters and one son and the husband of one wife.

His father, Mfumbane, was 64 years old. Two of his daughters, Mandla’s sisters, died many years ago. Another daughter is still living.

We share here, in snippets, a few of many comments written on Slack, TLC’s internal communications platform, by staff who will be identified only by the initials of their first names.

We realize the remarks are more a tribute to Mandla than to his father who just passed away. Yet, the son reflects the father, as Jesus reflected His Father on earth.

…K. “Sorry, Mandla. Love you and your family. Thanks for your unending dedication to the work.”

…B. “We are praying for you and your family in your grief. We are thrilled your father received Christ as his Savior.”

…M. “Precious testimony.”

…R. “So thankful that we will see you dad again in heaven, but know he will be missed on earth.”

…H. “Such soothing peace to imagine him skipping down the golden streets of glory–even now. Love you, Mandla.”

…M. “Sorry, Mandla. You and your family will be covered in prayer.”

…S. “May the Holy Spirit comfort you in the time of loss.”

…N. “Condolence Madonsela.” (another part of Mandla’s surname)

…W. “May God be with you during this time.”

…S. “We know how painful it is to lose a member of your family, mostly your parent. Trust in God. He knew us even before we were born, and He loves us even in times like these.”

…L. “May you rest in His presence, knowing that you will be reunited with your father on that day in the presence of Jesus.”

…M. “May God comfort you and your family…”

…G. “So sorry, Mandla. We will continue praying for you.”

…T. “Prayers for God’s limitless love and rest in the months to come.”

…F. “May you find comfort in the Lord through this difficult time.”

…N. “May the Lord’s hand heal all open wounds and give you strength in such loss.”

…C. “May the Lord surround you and your family in the days to come.”

…P. “God’s love is with you and ours is, too.”

This is Mandla’s response:

“Thanks, team. I really appreciate all the support you are giving to me.”

“The one thing that is giving me strength is that even if my earthly father passes on, still I am not an orphan, as I have my Heavenly Father and my Luke Commission family, too.”

Continued Mandla, “Yesterday’s scripture at Staff Discipleship training was for me. (The training took place before Mandla knew this was his father’s last day.) Tough situations and challenges must not make you compromise who you are and Who you belong to.”

The lesson centered around the young men Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were thrown into a fiery furnace because they would not bow down to an earthly king.

Mandla noted, “These three men did not change. They said, ‘Even if God does not save us, let it be known that we will not follow the gods you have placed before us.’”

We share these photos of Kunene family. They were taken at The Luke Commission’s hospital on the day the elder Kunene went from spiritual death to life. And today Mandla knows, even in his mourning, that his father is more alive than ever.

(by Janet Tuinstra)


PS This story is a tribute to all those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.