He believed that God would keep his promise, even though he never received the land during his lifetime. Those who have the same faith in God as Abraham are called children of Abraham (Rom 4:16).
Arwen Mallay’s difficult journey was 4 years long. It began with stomach pain and a cancer diagnosis when she was only 10 years old. Her family was serving as missionaries in Togo, West Africa when she developed her symptoms, and after trying treatments in the States, she desired to return to Togo knowing that she would likely end her days here.
Like Abraham, Arwen persevered in faith to the end, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:16). Arwen left the United States for Togo, but she left Togo for an even better county. And she left behind a testimony of faith in the promises of God that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. She demonstrated a life of inspiring faith to all those around her; family, friends, Togolese, missionaries, and fellow MKs.
Arwen’s final weeks were hard to endure. Our Lord did not give her an easy path to walk. But she was blessed to be surrounded by friends and family who cared for her and encouraged her all the way.
Since Arwen passed away on Tuesday, February 8th, her parents, Seth and Becca, have received many visitors to their home to encourage them, share memories of Arwen, and thank them for their faithfulness. Many of the Togolese, who work with Seth at the mission hospital, came to pray and sing hymns with them.
On Friday the 11th, fellow missionaries organized a viewing and funeral gathering that highlighted Arwen’s and her family’s trust in Jesus. In Togolese culture, large funerals are usually only given to elderly, high-profile members of the community. Children are often given only a small family funeral, or none at all.
But at Arwen’s funeral, the gospel that she clung to was preached to an overflow crowd at the mission hospital campus. The text of the sermon was one of Arwen’s favorite passages, Psalm 23. We can see that the Lord was Arwen’s shepherd, and when he led her through the valley of the shadow of death, he never abandoned her. We should, likewise, put our faith and trust in the Good Shepherd.
Finally, we held a small burial ceremony for her friends and family on Sunday the 13th. We sang her favorite hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” and shared testimonies of her faith, kindness, and joy. As that hymn states, Christ is our king and our victory, and we pray that we would have the same heart as Christ no matter what befalls us. Arwen truly believed and lived by those words. Before she passed, she recorded a message to strengthen all of us in our faith and encourage us to rest in the promises of God.
Her body was laid to rest in Tsiko, Togo, but her spirit is with the Lord. Arwen’s family and friends are certainly grieving, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope (I Thess. 4:13-14). We know that Jesus is our resurrection and our life. He has promised to raise to life all those who come to him in faith. He will not lose one of them. He will not lose Arwen.