Have you ever met a REAL Christian?


Joshua Hernandez’s funeral this week was moving and inspiring.  Heartland Church took the challenge on and overcame, revealing the glory of Joshua’s life, and death.  Literally a member of the church from birth to his death, Heartland’s influence helped shape Joshua into the warrior he was for  Christ with programs like Elevate; providing a crucible for childhood and adolescent fun; fostering and nurturing his spiritual development.

It revealed itself to be courageous, asking at the service – “have you ever wondered if there are any real Christians?”  Answering the question with: Joshua was a “real” Christian – a rare example of a human being and an example for Christ, dealing temptation, while through his actions, representing Christianity.  Not proclaiming who he was, but being in Christ, through these actions (to mention a few)

  1. He was Safe – many stories were shared at the funeral, and many more have appeared on Facebook and the internet.  Joshua saying to the incoming freshmen last year “if anyone messes with you come tell me and I’ll deal with it,” interpreted by them as “I will help make this new high school experience safe for you” endeared and empowered others to confront their fears in a new, intimidating experience – high school.  Knowing he had their back they relaxed, enjoyed, and embraced a new experience transforming fear into courage.  Christianity revealed through empathy and care in asking what others are experiencing and in quietly letting them know that they were “on his watch.”
  2. He had Fun – You have to see the pictures of Joshua singing with an open heart (but not necessarily on tune…) at Heartland just days before his death and the videos of him dancing and playing around, juxtaposed next to film of him playing basketball and other “serious” endeavors.  He was having fun!  Not too serious, not mean spirited, intensely competitive – yet never willing to let the desire to win eclipse the respect and honor of the innate value of every person as a special creation.  This is captured brilliantly with the video by his brother Junior: My Brother Joshua Hernandez.       
  3. He was Humble – An impossible challenge for a teenager on the trip into adulthood.  Teenagers are supposed to be immodest and self absorbed.  For many these delusions of grandeur continues until well into our thirties, forties or even fifty’s.  But Joshua, grounded by his two older sisters, challenged and confronted this tendency.   Joshua said he wanted a BMW to Cheri, his sister, who replied “one day you can, but you don’t deserve it yet” (I hear her saying “that is normal, now get over it, and do what it takes to earn what you desire in life”).   As a result Joshua lived life asking “what can I do for you?” For Christians “what can I do to support a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,  gentleness and self control?  (Galatians 5:22) while avoiding idolatry, hatred, contentions, jealousies, wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, envy, drunkenness, and the like. (Galatians 5:19)  A mantra many “Christians” profess but fail to follow, one that Joshua lived and modeled, resulting in tremendous influence and respect.

I am inspired.  Inspired to live life, not in word, but in deed, to be a Christian.  To be safe, to have fun, and to be humble.  Inspired by Heartland Church for their contribution to our community.  Inspired by Cheri and Monica Hernandez for their grounding and courage in their Christian walk.  Finally, inspired by the young men and women that knew Josh and who are committed, like me, to Live Like Josh

Joshua Hernandez 1993 – 2012 When Bad Things Happen To Good People

Many of us are deeply saddened this morning with the news that Joshua died in a car accident yesterday.  Being his family doctor for the last 18 years has been special.  We have lost a kind soul, a committed Christian, a friend, and an athlete.  He will be sorely missed. I pray for his family, that they recover  quickly, and feel the love and support from all of us who care so deeply about them.  In particular Jesse his brother who was there and who has gone through a nightmare in the last 24 hours – I hope he knows how much we appreciate him, the challenge this has been, and how committed we are to his successfully working through this trauma.  For his parents, a child is a reflection of their home, and Joshua was a shining light.  They should feel nothing  but love and admiration for the tremendous job they did with him, and that they continue to do with Cheri, Monica, Junior and Jesse; in raising such wonderful children.

As a doctor, you can imagine that this is not the first time I have seen a young person taken from our midst.  My sister at 26, my brother in law at thirty six, and many patients over the years.  It never gets easier.  My first reaction is anger.  How could this happen?  How could God betray such a fine person?  How could his family be put through this?  It feels unfair and cruel.  How could a just God allow this?  How will other young people who are trying to stand in their faith be affected by one of the brightest being taken, despite doing the right thing?  What is God thinking when he allows this to occur?

But as the anger passes I know in my heart, as I stand in my faith, that God did not do this, and there is no way for me to know Joshua’s legacy and the tremendous positive influence he has been and will continue to be for those of us left behind here on earth.

What would Joshua want us to do now?

Be bitter? Angry? Frustrated? Upset?  Would that be the way he would want to leave us?  Would he want others to fall away from our faith because of his dying?  Who would really be the winner then?  God, or his adversary?  The One he dedicated his life to, or the one he turned told to get behind him in his declarations of faith, and his actions?

I am clear that Joshua would want us to step out in faith and to know he is experiencing the joy and love that he shared on earth raised to the 10,000th power.  This world will have less acceptance, less love, less compassion and less fun loving play as a result of Joshua’s passing.  I think that he would like this to be his legacy.  If each of us take on these traits, to show acceptance, love, compassion and to be more fun loving than we would have been had we not know him, then we will honor Joshua.

I am committed to smiling when I would have frowned, to accepting and caring when I would have tended to judge or scorn, to laughing and loving when I would have withdrawn or watched from a distance.  That is who Joshua was to me, and that is who I will be for him.  In my heart I know I will see him again, and I look forward to embracing and celebrating with him, probably sooner than I would like.  In the mean time, I will honor him and make the world more loving and compassionate because I knew him and I honor who he was in his 18 years on earth.

Thank you Joshua for your inspiration to me and to those you touched.  I am proud to have been your doctor, your friend, and your brother in Christ.  I will miss you and I look forward to standing together soon to celebrate your influence on me, my family, our community and this world.  Know that I am committed to being there for your family, and that your life mattered and will never be forgotten.