Celebrating the Life and Faith of Shawn Kuykendall (1982-2014)
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24).
I have been putting off writing this blog about our young friend Shawn Kuykendall, who passed away March 12th of cancer at 32. The thought has been too painful. Just last October, I wrote of the “royal fellowship of death” our church has experienced over the past 18 months, and now we have one more name to add to that roll. I also posted a poem I had dedicated to friends whose sons had died too young, and now I have one more friend to add to that dedication.
I’ve known Shawn since he was born. Shawn’s parents and my husband and I have been friends since we were newlyweds; and Shawn’s dad has been an elder in our church, a soccer mentor and coach to our family, and one of my husband’s closest friends. Our children grew up ten minutes from the Kukykendalls and were buddies through home-school, public high school, college, church, soccer, etc. They played together as children and hung out together as teens and young adults. The ties are so deep that they’ve been in each other’s weddings and two of our sons and their newly-wed wives have even lived in the Kuykendall’s basement apartment. Walking through Shawn’s eight month battle with cancer has been heart-breaking for our entire family and our entire church family.
Shawn was known for his joie de vivre, his panache, his style, his outrageous sense of fun, his considerable soccer prowess, his zest for life, but most of all, for his love for the Lord. Shawn continues to touch lives; his life and legacy have made an incredible and far-reaching impact. USA Today, the Washington Post, and even Brett Baier’s Special Report on Fox News paid homage to Shawn’s courage and faith, touching literally millions. Others have written and spoken far more eloquently and poignantly about Shawn than I can, and so I’m listing some of those links below.
However, I’d like to add two things. Because of the flurry of these heart-felt tributes and because over 850 people came to celebrate Shawn’s life at his memorial service last Saturday, many, many people have heard the Good News that “God so loved the world that He sent his only Son; that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have life everlasting” (John 3:16). Shawn is with the Lord, and his desire is that we too will be with Him for all eternity. The greatest tribute anyone can give Shawn is to give serious consideration to his Savior and Lord, Jesus the Christ.
The other wonderful thing to come out of this earthly tragedy was to watch the church, the Body of Christ, work together so beautifully. Our church, The King’s Chapel, is a medium-sized congregation. My husband, the senior pastor, and his staff were frankly concerned how we could handle the huge crowd anticipated for the memorial service. But the Lord raised up gifted people who could organize every aspect of such a large service, and many others stepped up to bring and serve food, direct traffic and parking, run a shuttle bus service, decorate, clean-up, etc. Someone provided a tent for over-flow attendance, and God provided a lovely spring day for our comfort. The event went seamlessly. Shawn’s life was celebrated. And God receives all the Glory.
We all feel incredible pain at Shawn’s passing; nevertheless, God has done amazing things through the pain and, I trust, has more amazing things in store.
Some links for more tributes and information about Shawn Kuykendall:
http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/03/12/the-junkies-pay-tribute-to-friend-shawn-kuykendall-who-died-of-cancer-at-32/ (click the Junkies radio reel).
From his sister-in-law: http://alliekuyk.blogspot.com/2014/03/legacy.html
From my daughter: http://younglifehouse.blogspot.com/
Shawn even has a Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawn_Kuykendall