Yesterday, I attended the funeral service of Reverend Francis Ayuk. He was my colleague in ministry. More importantly, he was my friend.
In our various interactions, whenever I would ask Francis how he was doing, he would always (and I do mean always) offer the same response: “God is good.”
“How are you, Francis?”
“Oh, my brother, God is good!”
“How is ministry going, Francis?”
“Let me tell you, my friend, God is good!”
“How is it with your soul, Francis?”
“God is so very, very good.”
In our conversations, Francis always seemed more comfortable affirming God’s goodness than he was elevating his own accomplishments. I loved that about him. I intentionally tried to sit near Francis at district gatherings and meetings. I knew that, even if things became tense or tedious, Francis could redeem the day with his contagious spirit of joy and his relentless affirmation of the goodness of God. That is a rare and beautiful gift.
Francis and I once roomed together at a Jumonville retreat. It was then that I discovered that Francis snored as loudly as he laughed. It was what I like to call a Pentecostal snore—a swirling like the rush of a mighty wind, filling the entire house! The next morning, Francis greeted me.
“Good morning, my brother!”
“How are you, Francis?”
“Oh, my brother, God is good! Did I snore last night?”
“Uh…yeah…a little bit.”
“Oh my. I am sorry for that. People tell me that I snore loudly. I give them this reply: It is my nighttime way of praying without ceasing!”
Yesterday’s funeral service, held at Washington First United Methodist Church, was a beautiful celebration of Francis’ life and ministry. We remembered his devotion to prayer and worship. We remembered his laughter and vibrancy. We remembered his love for people and his stubborn refusal to overlook the broken and the marginalized. We remembered his passionate devotion to Jesus Christ and the counter-cultural ethics of his kingdom. We remembered his regular affirmation of the goodness of God. We remembered the courage with which he dealt with the aftermath of his stroke—a stroke that left him incapacitated for the last 2 1/2 years. We remembered his radiant eyes that always seemed to sparkle with the joy of a man who knew the grace and love of Jesus.
I will miss him in the life of our annual conference. I will miss him in my personal life. I find comfort, however, in imagining a conversation between God and Francis in the heavenly realm. Perhaps that conversation goes something like this:
“How is it with your soul, my child?”
“Oh, my gracious God and Savior, you are so good!”