Today, two lights have left the world - but they shine brighter than ever before.

Yesterday, I got word that one of my great friends, Chrisjan Jordaan, and his girlfriend, Alexis Still, had passed away in a hot air balloon accident in the Lower North Island - Carterton, to be exact.

The media keep labeling it a tragedy, and I can say that it truly is. Having known Chrisjan as a friend, as someone I looked up to, he was an incredible man. An amazing, incredible, awesome, and inspiring man of God.

My strongest memories of Chrisjan are at odd times. One is in the back of a truck. I suppose this one is more a mixture of memories, a montage of the times that we spent together, packing, unpacking, shuffling the gear around, to get it all to fit into the back of the truck. Every event we went to we’d do this, we’d build a way to communicate the message of God and the Gospel into the hearts of many, from the biggest conference rig for over 2000 people to the smallest prayer meeting, with only 70. 

It’s the times of joking and symphony, when we both knew what needed to go where, when we could simply look at the cases and know where to stack them, lifting and hauling, finding pleasure in the work and friendship in the silence. 

The second memory I have of Chrisjan is simply walking down Victoria Street in Wellington. I was going one way, he was going another, and I bumped into him. He’d just come off a 12 hour shift at the hospital where he was studying for nursing, I think, and had done a full setup and packdown the day before - yet the characteristic light that was the joy of his life was still there, the joy of meeting someone he knew on the street, the enthusiasm, even when exhausted, it just shone through. 

Chrisjan Jordann was a man of joy. He was a man of strength, a man who embodied the verse Nehemiah 8:10.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.“

No matter what, you knew you could come to Chrisjan and find him joyous. You knew you could find him, smiling, enthusiastic, beaming about the simple thing of being alive - because he had that joy in Christ.

It’s my loss, I feel, that I never knew Alexis Still, his girlfriend, better. But one thing I know, is that it wouldn’t be an easy heart that captured him. In all his joy, he had a depth of knowledge, borne of learning and being in the word of God, that made him far more complex than the outside appearance of a rugged South African. She must have been an incredible star to capture his heart. 

And I will mourn their loss, even though I know I will see them again. Though they are gone now, though they have died, the grave couldn’t hold them. Yes, it will hold their earthly remains, but as C.S. Lewis says:

You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.

And it’s true. I know that they have passed on, passed from the bodies which served them so well, passed into eternity, to worship, to partake in the banquets of Heaven, to occupy the rooms in their Father’s house that He prepared for them. 

And it is not that which I will mourn, but I will mourn for the loss of this world. I will mourn for the people who will never meet them, who will never know their smiles, and enthusiasm, and love. 

But, overall, this one thing I must remember: That weeping may remain for a night - but joy comes in the morning. 

This morning, I choose joy. I choose the joy that Chrisjan showed every day of his life. I choose the joy that he spread in his midst, the joy that rejoices in the knowledge that we will meet again. 

And even in the dark, I will praise Him. I will praise You, God, for causing me to meet such an incredible man of God.