Nicolas and his entire family came into our lives in Massachusetts in 1993 when his family became involved with our ministry. After a short time with us, his father, Nick ended up raising his five children alone as a single father. Our church rallied around him to help support this effort and give him some needed breaks from the daily strains of single fatherhood. Along the way my wife and I ended up getting very attached to the children and became almost another set of parents to them.
Our faith was brought to the ultimate test when tragedy visited us. Friday September 6, 2002, a precious little boy who we have loved as a son and raised and helped to raise, for the last eight years, died. Our son Jonathan’s brother Nicolas, died. On several occasions he had lived with us for extended periods of time. He and all of his other brothers and sisters had been living with us for most of the last year. In August their father, Nick, picked them up and took them to Florida to live with him. They had just moved into a new apartment in September. Nicolas had built a “fort” in his closet. He had been playing in his “fort” for about fifteen minutes. Someone discovered him tangled up in things in the closet and was not breathing. 911 – Police – Ambulance – Hospital … but they could not revive him. He was pronounced dead. We cannot tell you the shock, horror and grief that hit us. You’re just not supposed to have to bury ten-year-old’s! We can’t ask why any more. We can only rest in, and on, our faith. We can take peace in knowing where Nicolas is and who he is with! Yet, he truly has been a son to us and we just miss him SO VERY MUCH.
“The Nicolas Project”
Telling Jonathan that Nicolas had died was the hardest thing that we ever had to do. As we told him, you could just see the shock hit his precious little face. He shook his head from side to side and said “No sir! You’re kidding!” When we assured him that it was true, he just burst into tears. A couple of days later he was going to bed, on the bunk bed that they had shared. I was talking with him before we prayed. I asked him what he was thinking about. He replied “Nicolas”. Then I said “Are you thinking about playing video games or basketball or riding bikes with him?” He looked down and just said “No” very somberly. I asked him what he was thinking about. He replied “How much I miss him” with his little lip quivering. That just broke my heart all over again. Right then we decided to do something very positive in Nicolas’ name. And we launched it that Christmas. Allow us to explain.
Nicolas was a little boy who was full of life. Every waking moment he wanted to play. If he was around you, you knew it. When he walked into a room, you knew it. When he was playing, you knew it. We built a living memorial in his honor. It is not only a memorial to Nicolas, but it also has been blessing the lives of hundreds of children for decades.
Two of the teachers at that time that were teaching in Higher Ground Bible College, were John & Libby Moritz. They are from Upstate New York and taught a class here, called Compassion. John & Libby are uniquely qualified to teach this class. Ten years prior to Nicolas’ accident, three weeks after Christmas, their children were in a car pooling accident while on their way home from school. The car skidded on ice and was struck by a truck in the opposite lane. All three of their children were killed instantly. Having gone through the loss of Nicolas, I cannot fathom losing all three of your children!
You can almost believe that there is no recovery from that! That, however, was not the case with John & Libby. To make a long story short, they chose to accept the loss of their children and to regard them as seeds planted into God’s work here on earth. The Bible says:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat
fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if
it die, it brings forth much fruit”. (John 12:24)
John & Libby decided to “offer” the death of their children, to The Father, as seeds planted into His kingdom. They now have opened up orphanages around the world in memory of their children! They take care of 275 children, collectively in those homes. They are giving the gift of life, to children who would have no future, in memory of their children! These people have turned unimaginable tragedy into triumph … that makes them my hero’s.
John called me two days after Nicolas’ funeral. I shared with him what had happened and the idea that was taking shape in our minds for a living memorial. I asked him if we might work with his orphanages and build a room or something, a place where more children could be “loved on,” in Nicolas’ memory. He was very open to the idea. We built a large room as an activity room for the children at their orphanage in Mexico. We will call it Nicolas Hall. The recreation center makes the lives of the children much more pleasant. Since Nicolas absolutely LOVED to play, Nicolas Hall has been just the right memorial. Aside from being a place where children can play, it is also a place where Jonathan and many other volunteers come to “love on kids”, in Nicolas’ name. This has brought something very positive out of such a sad, horrible event.
We built a recreation room, to bless some very deprived orphans, in the name of a beautiful, precious little boy, who was and is so very dear to us.
We would give anything to have five more minutes with Nicolas to hold him and hug him and tell him how much we love him, just one more time. But absent of that, we have settled for loving the children in these orphanages, in Nicolas’ name. Though we have suffered a grief unspeakable, we are determined that it will not be in vain. Though the devil meant to cripple us with an unbearable pain, we have born the unbearable and turned this tragedy into triumph. Plan to come and be part of this ongoing project that “Loves Children Through Recreation!”