“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Ps 116:15)
Elder JT Joseph was called home to the Lord on 9 May 2021. The vigil services on May 10 and 11 were conducted by the Rev Dr Jose Lagapa and the Rev Zhu Jianwei respectively. On May 12, pastor conducted the funeral and buried Elder Joseph at the Choa Chu Kang Protestant Cemetery.
On the same day, pastor also buried his beloved wife—Mrs Jemima Khoo—whom the Lord called home on 11 May 2021. Jemima’s homegoing service was held on May 12 at the FEBC Hall. Burial was at Choa Chu Kang Lawn Cemetery.
The burials of Elder JT Joseph and Mrs Jemima Khoo were conducted one after the other under overcast skies and gentle weather just before sunset. The homegoing services for both were precious moments of remembrance and reflection of their lives lived for God. More importantly, they were a blessed time of worship and adoration of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
Here are the eulogies given by their respective eldest children—Samuel Joseph and Khoo May Ann:
Sam’s Eulogy for His Father
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor 15:54)
It is usual for death to be associated with defeat. We think of all the things left undone: the work unfinished, the plans unaccomplished, the dreams unfulfilled. This is perhaps especially so in the case of a sudden death ‒ and my father’s passing was quite sudden for us. None of us expected, when he first went into the hospital, that he would not be coming back. There were many things I wanted to say to him, and do with him, which I will not be able to do or to say.
And I know there were many things which he wanted to do. He was a quiet man, but he always had big plans and big dreams. He wanted to complete his degree in mathematics. He wanted to play “T-Rex” with his grandchildren ‒ a game he used to play with me and with my sister, where he would pretend to be a hungry dinosaur, and we would pretend to be dinner.
He was not able to do any of those things. And we never had the chance, really, to say goodbye. I had my last conversation with him without ever imagining that it would be our last. I cannot remember now what we talked about.
Yet, for all this, I cannot think of my father’s death as a defeat ‒ not for sentimental reasons, but because of what God reveals to us in His word. For the Christian, because of what Jesus Christ has done, “death is swallowed up in victory.”
Death is the penalty for sin: which is rebellion against God and refusal to submit to His law. On my father’s death certificate the cause of death is listed as pneumonia; but in spiritual terms, the cause of death would be sin against God. Ultimately, my father died because he is a sinner. The same goes for us as well. Death is common to us all, because sin is common to us all.
But the sin that is common to us all was laid upon one man, Jesus Christ; and the penalty of death that is common to us all was suffered by Him in our place. Not only did He suffer death on our behalf ‒ He conquered it. He rose again victorious from the grave on the third day. And when we put our faith in Him, that victory becomes ours. We become not just sinners, but sinners saved by the grace of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is my father’s victory: not a victory which he achieved for himself, but a victory given to him by God. The light that shone so brightly in my father’s life was not his own, but the light of the Saviour, Jesus Christ, in whom he lived. This is the truth he taught me, and the faith he exemplified for me. This is the victory I will always remember, when I think of my father. He lived a victorious life and died a victorious death, because he lived by the faith of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in whose presence my father now dwells. This is the victorious life he would want us to live as well ‒ a life described here in verse 58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Or, as my father used to say, “One day at a time, and every day with Jesus.” That is the only way to victory, in life and in death. My father would have wanted all of you to know that.
(Ruth is daughter of Elder & Mrs Joseph)
If we never meet again, this side of heaven
As we struggle through this world and its strife
There’s another meeting place somewhere in heaven
By the side of the river of life
Where the charmin’ roses bloom forever
And where separations come no more
If we never meet again this side of heaven
I will meet you on the beautiful shore
To this amazing man, who taught me to ride a bike, the difference between a Phillips and a flathead screwdriver, how to use algebra. You will be dearly missed, but know you are safe in the loving arms of the Lord. Rest in peace, and we will meet again one day.
May Ann’s Eulogy for Her Mother
Dear family and friends of my mother. Thank you for being here with us today.
Whether you are with us in person or virtually, we thank each and every one of you for coming. I know we are all together in one spirit to remember how good God is, and how I am sure he has used my mother to bless you in one way or another.
For this eulogy, since Mother’s Day has recently passed I thought it would be fitting to share a letter that I wrote to my mother for Mother’s Day. I managed to share the gist of it with her yesterday. I pray that the Lord will give me the strength to read this to you and to glorify His name above all else.
1. You are a person I will always remember for being so full of love, life and affection.
2. First, I will remember you for your love. You showered me and May Lynn with much love and affection since we were little and, above all, you taught us about God’s love, always reminding us with such assurance that God is good and that he has never failed to provide for our needs.
3. Second, I will remember you for your life. You always looked to the needs of others. Like the woman who looked to the needs of her household in Proverbs 31, you always thought about Pa’s needs above your own. You cared for us, you cared for the students in FEBC, organizing trips for them and activities to make them feel welcome, you cared for the members of the church, as well as the little ones.
4. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, you were like a “merchant ship that bringeth food from afar”. You were resourceful and would always observe the things that we needed, like how you got FEBC a steady supply of eggs by chasing the man who supplies eggs to the hawkers at Newton hawker centre – persuading him to supply the college with eggs etc.
5. Even when you were sick and in your suffering, you would think about the needs of those around you. We would attend the children’s Sunday School together every week. Even though you were weak and could barely listen, you made it a point to ensure that the Sunday School teachers could procure the paid zoom service so they would not need to be stressed about rushing the classes for the children.
6. You even thought about me on one particular day when I was feeling stressedabout work and not being able to take care of you – you said that God would take care of you and I didn’t have to worry. Then, you proceeded to think about what food you would give me to cheer me up.
7. Most of all, I will remember you for your great love for the Lord. Even after wave after wave of bad news over the past year about your condition, I never saw you cry. You just reminded us that we were pilgrims on this earth on a journey. You reminded us that God who numbers the hair on our head, knows our minutest need.
8. The only thing that you had constantly asked for is prayer. Caring for you during the past month has made me realise the depth of your unconditional love in caring for us. Though I often fail, you were a great source of comfort to me. To me it is a testament of God’s love towards us. I am comforted by the reminder that “as One whom His mother comforteth, so will [God] comfort [us].”
Love, May Ann
To close, I would like to thank God that the night before she passed, my sister and I had the chance to speak with her. When we asked her if she had any final things she would like to share with us, she shared Revelation 3:20 with us. I will read the verse shortly but her purpose for sharing it with us was to remind us of the day of our salvation and to swiftly return to the Lord if we ever go astray.
Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
“The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21). Pastor and family are grateful for the love, prayers and support of church members and fellow brethren. Thank you for all your very meaningful cards and comforting words of sympathy, and your love gifts. All proceeds to Far Eastern Bible College.
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