We recently lost a student at the school I work at. A loving, kind young man who was in the Special Education class that I assist in. Stephan “Jap” Thomas is known throughout Benjamin Russell High School and the town of Alexander City as a die-hard BRHS Wildcat fan. He cheered at every sporting event that he could get to. Jap graduated before this year but due to the policies for students in Special Education he was allowed to return for continued education with us, this would have been his final year under the policy.
Every student and teacher in the Alex City School System either knows or has heard of Jap. He was an honorary Wildcat football player the year he graduated and ran on the field with the football team. He is never happier than when he is at a pep rally and he has a great sense of humor that he shared with his classmates everyday. His teachers and the administration at BRHS thought of him as family and he was a beloved son or brother to all.
I have personally been struggling with the best way to support my fellow educators through this loss. I did not know Jap very well; this is my first year in the classroom and I am not a native of Alex City. I have been doing my best to offer my condolences, lead when the teachers need to mourn in their own way, and offer counseling to the students who want it.
I hope this small offering of words from Psalms will touch those who are hurting and remind them that God is always here and offers His comfort to all who ask:
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”(Pslam 34:18).
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
And perhaps the most important of all, in Revelation 21:4 Jesus reminds us that soon God will take away all of our pain, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’”.
Rest easy Jap…we will see you soon. I can’t wait to see you shoot 10 free throws, run 10 miles, and tell me how you weigh 10 pounds. We love you buddy.