A conversation from Monday, May 8:

“Peter, are you ready to see God face to face?”

“Yes.”

“Are you ready to meet Jesus?”

“Yes.”

Peter Irenaeus Nelson was unafraid to the end, which came at 6:15pm on Tuesday, May 9. He died in the confidence that he would enter the presence of God, where there is fullness of joy. We are grieving, but comforted in the knowledge that he is with our Lord Jesus.

A memorial service will be held for Peter  at 3:00pm on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Gateway Community Church, 353 E. Donna Dr, Merced, CA 95340. For those unable to attend, a recording of the service will be available online shortly afterwards. As a pastor I preach, but Peter’s life itself was a better sermon that I could ever give, a testimony to the power of the gospel to disarm death itself. Join us in sharing Peter’s story, grieving his tragic loss, trusting in the great love of God, and celebrating the resurrection.

As we are expecting a large number of people at the service, there will not be a time for public sharing. We would like to hear your memories and stories about Peter though, and especially what you might have learned from him (I learned a lot from him). Anything that you would share publicly at a service you can share in the comments here for all to read.

If you are thinking of giving flowers or a gift, Peter would have liked you to give to children with needs in other parts of the world. Peter often prayed for children without access to medical care like he had. Consider giving through Partners International or Unicef.

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The Funeral

56 thoughts on “The Funeral

  • May 10, 2017 at 5:49 pm
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    What an amazing boy. Thankyou Peter for encouraging me to stregthen my relationship with God through reading your story.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 5:52 pm
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    Dear Zeke,
    So very sorry for your heavy loss. Thank God that we don’t grieve without hope. Don’t know what we would do. And well done. The strength and grace that Peter had was certainly only there because of the grace of Christ and all that you and your wife had poured into him. Tears & prayers for you all.
    Rick Andrew
    London

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  • May 10, 2017 at 5:57 pm
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    My heart breaks for you, Zeke and Rebecca and family. It was an honor to have met Peter. His life and death preaches the gospel.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 6:25 pm
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    I am so sorry to hear of your loss, but joyful that Peter is no longer in pain and is communing with our Savior, Jesus. Peter will be remembered by me as one who was courageous and taught me that I should not be afraid because God has already determined our destiny. No matter my time on Earth, I will be with Jesus and Peter and many others when my time on ERth is done. See, Rebecca and family, you will be in my prayers. I can’t even imagine the feelings you are experiencing.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 6:43 pm
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    My heart aches and my tears flow or your loss, but I am confident it is Peter’s gain. Thank you for sharing his last months with all of us. We have prayed for you all faithfully and while we are sad that God did not see fit to heal Peter here on earth, we are joyful that He has ultimately healed Peter for eternity. We will continue to pray for your family as you go through this frenetic time and as you deal with life after. When everyone else has gone on with life and you are left wishing the world would slow down for a while and let you grieve. Give yourselves the time you need, keep your trust firmly in Jesus, and be kind to each other.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 6:49 pm
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    I remember when you guys first got back from your vacation and every time you tell us a story Peter would interrupt you and tell it different he was so funny that day I’m going to miss you Peter…. I love you Pastor Zeke

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  • May 10, 2017 at 7:25 pm
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    So sorry Gordon and I wish it were not so. Blessing for you and family
    Sharon by buchanan

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  • May 10, 2017 at 7:27 pm
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    Thank you Peter for providing such a great example of faith, strength and relationship with our Heavenly Father. May you rest peacefully now in your permanent home with him.

    Zeke and Rebecca, you did such a wonderful job with Peter. The courage he showed through his journey is quite an example you both set for him. He was taught well and I’m sure it gave him great comfort.

    My deepest condolences and prayers are with your family.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 7:38 pm
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    Zeke I’m so sorry for your loss. Peter was an amazing boy, a fact I know you’re well aware of this fact. I’m praying God reveals His plan for your life in a bold way. I’m also praying for God’s comfort and strength during this difficult time.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 8:00 pm
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    Zeke and Rebecca, Marjorie and I grieve for your earthly loss, never was privileged to meet Peter, however, Zeke your story’s of the last few months have touched my heart in that Peter was a lovely example of loving Jesus to the fullest and believing in the promises of our GOD. Thank you Zeke and Rebecca for carrying that message and raising such a wonderful person as Peter.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 8:08 pm
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    Zeke & Rebecca, Sharing your sadness & grief as we pray for strength & peace in our Lord. I appreciate your deep hope shared with Peter & us all.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 8:14 pm
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    May God give your family strength and encouragement. I am so saddened by Peter’s death. However, I am glad he is no longer suffering. I pray for Rebecca and you as well as for the children. Sending my love to all of you.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 8:18 pm
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    We love you pastor, we are praying for your family. For strength and peace.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 8:26 pm
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    Dear Zeke and Rebecca, We’re so very sorry for your terrible loss. May your family feel the arms of Jesus wrapped around you as you grieve.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 8:30 pm
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    I am so sorry for your loss. Even though I never knew Peter I’m rejoicing that he is now with the Lord in heaven and is filled with his grace. May God bless you in this time of grief and may he give you peace.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 8:34 pm
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    Do you think Peter is singing “If you could see me now…”? We hurt for your loss.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 8:50 pm
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    I can’t help but think about when you came to preach in Ripon and had lunch with us after. Our children jumped in the pool together after lunch and played like they had know each other forever. I can just see Peter not wasting any time jumping in with new friends in glory! What an incredible young man he was and the legacy that such a young person could leave for us to know without a doubt that there is no fear in death when Jesus has won the victory for us all. Zeke and Rebecca, you and the rest of your family are in our constant prayers as you grieve the loss of Peter and we with you.

    With sympathy,
    Scott & Jill De Jong and family

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  • May 10, 2017 at 8:59 pm
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    Zeke, its melissa (one of the twins) from band and honors in junior high and high school. I found out about this through Facebook and just feel terrible for your family. Just no words for such a time as this. No parent ever wants to ever imagine even thinking something like this could be possible. Praying for your family and your peace as you grieve the loss of your son on this earth. What a beautiful boy.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 9:21 pm
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    Dear Zeke and Rebecca,
    It was such an honor to have met you both and cared for Peter. What a wonderful young man with enormous courage and faith. It was my great privilege to participate in his care, if only for a few short weeks. I am so sorry for your loss and send my thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy. I wish peace, love, and comfort for you and your family.

    Daniel West, MD, UCSF

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  • May 10, 2017 at 9:23 pm
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    Dear Zeke and Rebecca, Randy and I are praying for your family. Peter sounds like he was a young man made up of all the love, wisdom, humor you both are made of plus plenty of spunk all his own. What a blessing to read all of his comments – so filled with courage and faith and love.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 9:50 pm
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    A little while ago Erika blurted out, “he is at the banquet now.” He is. Hallelujah. No more pain. We are deeply sorry for yours however. So much so. We love you all and grieve with you. You remain in our prayers. Accept God’s embrace. He is with you now and Peter with him. You are close to each other.
    Abrazos. Besos. Bendiciones. Siempre en los brazos del Señor, Padre, Dios Todopoderoso.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 9:52 pm
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    Praying for you all as you grieve Peter’s loss and yet celebrate a life well-lived. I have been encouraged by your honesty and willingness to be so transparent during this journey. Peter was an amazing young man and his story inspires me. God bless you all.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 9:54 pm
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    Zeke–Even though we have not been in touch since high school, my heart breaks for you and your family. I’m so very sorry. I hope your faith and the light memories will help you all through this darkness.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 10:27 pm
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    My Condolinces Pastor Zeke and Rebecca …Peter was a strong young man I will never forget his smile He is with the lord now Peter will always be remembered …Prayer for the family

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  • May 10, 2017 at 10:53 pm
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    My condolences to the family. I’ve never met Peter but heard about him today through a friend, Arlene. Even without meeting Peter, I could see and feel that he was a brave and loving boy. He has touched my heart and my spirit…and I will not forget. His story has moved me to help others in need through Partners International. Thank you for sharing & God bless.

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  • May 10, 2017 at 10:57 pm
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    Thinking of you and your family during this time and sending love. Amanda (Rough) Bredlow, (JHS class of ’99)

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  • May 11, 2017 at 3:59 am
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    Dear Zeke and family,

    We heard the news today, and it hit me like a ton of bricks – we are deeply saddened for your loss. Peter seemed like such a special, courageous little boy – and we know He’s in the Father’s arms now. What an incredible testimony as you have been saying of the power of the gospel and the power of God’s love to conquer fear and death. Praise the Lord! Will pray for you in your grieving

    David Hamburger

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  • May 11, 2017 at 4:20 am
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    I was thinking of Peter last night before I heard the news. My daughter just finished Voyage of the Dawn Treader and it led to some great conversations. Later in the evening I found a long- lost mango in my coat closet (of all places! ) I thought of Peter. God has given us so many promises in Christ. So many of us, as we get older, find ourselves anxious about the future and about death. Peter is an encouragement to me that, In spite of the pain, we can take courage, for the Lord is with us. He will fight for us. It was an honor to see (albeit second hand) the faith God gave Peter. Seeing God’s face and being with Him… bearing that eternal weight of glory. Peter was built up by His suffering to be able to uphold that weight. May I be faithful with my much smaller trials until God calls me home. And if God calls my children before me, I will be desperate for His giving of mountains of grace to grope through that cavernous dark place. May He sustain you, Zeke and Rebecca , and your children, as you walk the valley and look for the Son.
    He himself is our peace.
    Love,
    Shelby (Dresback) Miles

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  • May 11, 2017 at 5:52 am
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    Peter showed us how to live life for Jesus. He created opportunity for people to see more of God through his strength and courage. Our hearts are ache for your family but rejoice with you that God is on the throne and Peter is sitting at His feet completely healed. Thank you for sharing your pain, your honesty, your love, your faith, your son.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 6:21 am
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    Thank you for sharing your family’s journey. I grieve and rejoice with you. I ache for you knowing there is an absence felt in your family, but celebrate the hope and knowledge you have in knowing Peter is with his Lord.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 6:45 am
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    Sorrow
    Lurks at every door frame
    An unwelcome house guest.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 7:08 am
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    And once again Jesus crushes cancer under His feet as Peter walks on golden streets.
    AND.
    How can there be so much packed in the space of grief and joy at the same time…… only He knows how to navigate that journey always
    so that is all we can do right now for you ,near or far, asking Father,Daddy God to continue sailing you victoriously through those deep waters, Nelson family…

    We did not get the privilege of meeting Peter this side of the wave of eternity, but just like everyone who could read your family’s journey, ours was challenged and crazy blessed to feel connected nonetheless to your story… Thank you is not sufficient for your transparency and process made available for the world to step into. Peter has so many more people now that will want to meet him in heaven when we all get there, and tell him how his faith strengthened theirs.
    The morning I read the news about Peter gone it was the strangest weather outside, SO uncommon looking for central Washington where I live, that it completely reminded me of Costa Rica. Which appropriately was where I got to know you, Zeke. All that to say, it randomly triggered the memory of the song ‘Father of Lights’ that we sang there. Do you remember that?
    The song came from James 1:17 (ISV) “Every generous act of giving and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father who made the heavenly lights, in whom there is no inconsistency or shifting shadow.”
    As every gift from Peter’s life, and his life itself is remembered and keeps on giving throughout your lives, may Holy Spirit continue to blow you away with His stalwart strength and faithfulness like a rock. Peter and your process were just that. Living testaments to His faithfulness and goodness, and consistant care and love,like a ROck. He lived the very meaning of his name for God’s glory! Praise God from whom all blessings flow and continue to heal your hearts completely.

    with Christ’s love,
    the Lewis family

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  • May 11, 2017 at 8:40 am
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    With you in prayer, Zeke and Rebecca. God’s embrace as you walk through this valley. ??? Susie and David

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  • May 11, 2017 at 9:40 am
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    My condolences for you and your family. I’m so thankful I got the chance to meet such a joyful kid full of energy. He had a big bright smile. My kids shared such great times with all your kids. My kids are lucky to have shared great memories with Peter. He will be greatly miss by everyone. Rest in heaven Peter.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 12:40 pm
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    Me uno a la profunda pena que embarga al pastor Ezequiel y familia, por el sentido fallecimiento de su hijo Pedro ..descanse en paz y Dios lo tenga en su santa gloria

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  • May 11, 2017 at 12:59 pm
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    “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
    2 Corinthians 5:8
    David and I cannot tell you how much we grieve for you. Knowing Peter was always a witness for The Lord and is now in his presence is our only consolation. We are praying for your family.
    David and Anne Pingenot

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  • May 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm
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    Having just lost my beautiful mother at the age of 69 unexpectedly on Good Friday this year, I pray that they may come to find one another rejoicing for they are both now free of pain and suffering and the confines of the body from this world. I will be praying for you and the family…for his siblings…and the strength of you, the parents, for each of us bears a specific burden in the loss of such a love. I will pray for you to find comfort and peace, because much the time if will feel like an unbillable void. But, fear not, Christ has over come this world…and, yes, He is still Good…his plan perfect, and his grace relentless. And, just yesterday, Christ reminded me of his steadfastness, that he hears me, he is still answering prayers, and encouragement will come for you as well. To every thing there is a season,
    and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    Ecclesiastes 3:
    A time to be born, a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
    A time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

    There once was a boy named Peas, and when he died they buried him beneath the flowers and the trees; but Peas is no longer just the pod, for Peas has gone to be with God.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm
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    Zeke and Rebecca,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You are a wonderful example of loving parents. Peter’s passing and your courage throughout this ordeal have touched me deeply. I hope you feel the love that we have, even from a distance, for Peter, you and your family.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 2:01 pm
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    Peter and Rebecca we didn’t know you and your family personally, but from afar you all radiate the light of Jesus. Being parents ourselves, we ache deeply for your loss and pray for your lifelong comfort. In a society today where many don’t get exposed to Jesus we celebrate that Peter knew Him intimately at a young age. Thank you for silently yet boldly ministering to us so that all experience the hope, the faith, and the love that Jesus brings.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 2:46 pm
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    Zeke & Rebecca,

    God’s glory is found ultimately in heart’s that choose to surrender to His grace and majesty, and although I was not blessed to know Peter – I sense a young man covered in God’s glory. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. Be strong in your faith, I know that God will continue to use the life of your son to be an encouragement to many who may a similar trial to walk though. When God extends such an overwhelming level of grace, He often brings venues to extend that same grace to others. May the Holy Spirit given you everything you need and more to glorify Jesus.

    Larry D. Andrews
    President, Partners International

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  • May 11, 2017 at 3:04 pm
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    With tears in their eyes, many of my students at DHS shared sweet heartfelt stories about Peter. Every single story included how strong Peter was and how much he loved God. He sounds like an amazing boy who touched so many lives.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 3:31 pm
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    So saddened to hear of his passing. I’ve been praying and wondering how he was doing. My prayers are with you. Wonderful boy I’m sure GOD came out to welcome him personally. God bless you as you heal and move forward in your ministry. Your former mail lady Kelly.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 3:57 pm
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    Zeke and Rebecca: After reading what has been posted by your many friends I can only say AMEN. I do want you to know that many of my friends on the East coast prayed for Peter and are now praying for you. By the way my son is named Peter.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 4:19 pm
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    Zeke & family, I have NO words…the Lord will give you STERKTE and let you feel His love.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 4:25 pm
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    Grieving with you. Praying, too, as is our whole church. God’s peace to all of you.

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  • May 11, 2017 at 6:34 pm
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    “Mama can you hear me
    Daddy can you feel me
    I’m made whole
    I’m at home
    I’m dancing on streets of gold
    Don’t stop holding on” (Jonathan David Helser)

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  • May 11, 2017 at 8:11 pm
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    My daughter Jordyn said Peter was one of her true friends and she is very sad to lose him. Prayers to the family as they heal from this tragic loss.

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  • May 12, 2017 at 6:31 am
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    Our heart are broken. Peter was such a sweet boy. I will remember the fun we had camping and at church. We look forward to seeing him again on that day that will never end. All our love to you Rebecca and the children.

    Ben Lovelace

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  • May 12, 2017 at 10:57 am
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    Dear Zeke, Rebecca and family, my heart truly goes out to you at this time. I still remember Peter from when I visited you in Delhi and I know how earnestly he was loved and prayed for by everyone at Church of the Cross and Church of the King. As you experience profound mourning and joy as a family, for years to come, I look forward with you to the eternal feast when – with Peter – God will turn ALL our mourning into gladness, and give us complete comfort and joy instead of sorrow (Jer. 31:13).

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  • May 12, 2017 at 11:35 am
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    Photos of his “Make a Wish” party, 2 weeks ago… his wish to taste exquisite and exotic foods from all around the world, including scorpions ? tarantulas ? and mealworms ?… perhaps this wish was actually his gift to us… ? of comfort and safety in our grief, to look at after he’d left. You have no fear in grief to see this kid eating bugs. Fearlessness, in Christ = Peter. The real deal.

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  • May 12, 2017 at 12:59 pm
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    Dear Zeke and Rebecca and family,

    We were deeply saddened to hear of Peter’s passing. We grieve with you’ll in this tragic loss. Tragic as his passing is, we pray that you might find Comfort and Hope in Him who in the event of Resurrection has paved the way for a better future of his followers (cf. Rom. 14:9). And Peter, no doubt, was one of them.

    We extend our condolences to you’ll and extended family.

    Gert and Grace Timmerman,
    The Netherlands

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  • May 12, 2017 at 3:40 pm
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    Zeke,

    Thank you for all you have shared in the past months about your son Peter and his final adventures on Earth. We were fortunate to have met him while he was still alive and were touched by his fearlessness, intelligence and kindness. His brave spirit will live on and he will be loved always. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote after the death of his son: “Hearts are dust, hearts’ loves remain. Heart’s love will meet thee again.” Peter has started a new adventure, free from pain and suffering. Maybe he is playing games with John, Ed, Claude and Jim. If he is, I am sure he is laughing.

    Lots of love to you and your family from all the Nelsons

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  • May 12, 2017 at 6:12 pm
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    Ohhhhh Zeke & Rebecca, I am so very, very sorry that you have to go through this. At the same time, please know that Peter’s incredible faith and his calm confidence in God’s promises, AND your willingness to blog about Peter’s experiences and everything your family has gone through, has been an incredible witness to me.

    Zeke & Rebecca, I witnessed your commitment to each other and to your kids during the short week I spent with you a few years ago. And I saw what a great job both of you were doing in raising your kids. I’m sure Peter’s incredible grace through all of this was in part a gift from God but was also to a great degree the result of how the two of you raised Peter and your other 3 children.

    May the Lord be with you.

    Elmer

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  • May 12, 2017 at 9:31 pm
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    Dear Rebecca and Zeke, we are so very sorry to hear of Peter’s passing. While we didn’t get to meet him (this side of heaven) we remember you both fondly (especially Karin Rebecca from Fuller Wives ) and send our heartfelt hugs and prayers.

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  • May 13, 2017 at 5:06 am
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    Zeke & Rebecca, Isaac, Elizabeth, Nathan – and all other family members in The Family of God (since we’ve all lost the direct presence of a Family member for now):

    Joelene & I are so very sorry for your loss. I’m also sad for you/us that God did not choose to heal Peter on this side of eternity…though happy, of course for him to be with Jesus and so many other heroes of the faith like him – women & men like Irenaus and The Apostle Peter and so many others whom God has used & is still using to build His church now that they have finished their parts on this side.

    Rebecca, I think I will never forget your fierce faith when you stood at the prayer service in Livingston to make sure everyone heard you say that even if God did not choose to heal Peter on this side of eternity, we all need to know & remember that God is still good! The fierce fire in your eyes & face & words were – and remain – one of the most authentic and extraordinary testimonies I’ve ever witnessed. May God continue to strengthen & re-strengthen your faith as He comforts & heals your mother-heart.

    Zeke, your honesty with us about how “crushing” it has been to watch one of your own sons go through this process has been so transparently filled with the faith that comes via honest wrestling, faithfully holding your son while being held by your Father, thoughtfully working past surface answers to the far deeper & truer wisdom of God while still somehow letting us in on the joys & sorrows & deepening of faith from the gift of Peter’s life as you followed God’s Spirit through this process.

    While you as a family were on sabbatical last year, I was impressed again and again by the adventurous/ taste everything/ climb into every challenging site/ live life fully/ full of spunk kind of approach Peter took to life. He may have lived more of life the way God intended during his brief time here than many do through decades more time. And now – we believe with you that Peter is fully alive in Christ Jesus, Who came that we might experience life to the full. And we are praying that God will fill your own aching empty places with His comfort & Presence. We are so sorry for all 5 of you to not have Peter with you for now! But we are also so thankful you did such an amazing job (from all we saw & heard) as his father, mother, sister, and brothers!

    Since I’m now on my own sabbatical with the grants you & I won, Joelene & I are not able to be with you at the funeral today – but our thoughts and prayers are for you, and I’m SO very thankful that God is with you. I really appreciated so many of the comments above and want to emphasize the one noting that as you let God embrace you…knowing also that Peter is with God…you are so very close still.

    Christ our Center. Christ our Brother in sorrow. Christ our Hope. Christ our Comfort. Christ our Strength. Christ our Resurrection. Christ our Life.

    – Al & Joelene Schaap

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  • May 13, 2017 at 9:53 am
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    Nelson family, we were heartbroken to hear the news of Peters passing. Your entire family is such an example of God’s hope, grace and love. You may never know all the people Peter and his story have and will touch. No one can explain the reason why, but know he changed lives positively through his life and now through his death as we watch you allow yourselves to be cradled in God’s arms. The Jordan’s

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