“When I saw the announcement in the Food for the Hungry (FH) newsletter, I did a double take: David Evans and his family become Hunger Corps staff in Guatemala.
I wondered how such an erroneous announcement could have possibly made it through the editors of the newsletter. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that neither I nor my family was moving to Guatemala.
So I emailed our human resources (HR) team, and they sheepishly apologized for forgetting to inform me that another David Evans had joined the staff of FH. That was 2009.
In the ensuing years, I would sometimes receive emails that were intended for David, and I assume he also got some emails intended for me. It was intriguing to have a sort of alter ego in FH that I had never met. So I was thrilled in November 2012 to finally have the opportunity to meet David at an FH training in the Dominican Republic. I instantly liked him. He loved the Lord, loved FH and loved helping the poor. He was hard-working, committed, empathetic and friendly.
But he was quick to point out that his wife Melinda was really his better half and that he was looking forward to the time when I would meet her. Tragically and unfortunately, that time never came.
I only know of Melinda through what I have read (I was deeply impacted by her final blog post and wept uncharacteristically when reading it), what I have heard (David and others have told me amazing stories of her courage, love, selflessness, giving spirit, and her very huge heart for those in need), and what I have seen (the pictures of her show an incredible warmth beaming from her eyes and smile). And reading, hearing and seeing these things are enough for me to know that here was a true servant of the Lord. Someone who willingly gave up the comfort and wealth of a very nice middle class life in America and took her family—including several special needs children—to seek, serve and save the lost and broken in Guatemala and most recently the Dominican Republic.
Her death came so suddenly, like a thief in the night. One day praying that her husband and daughter would shake off the effects of the dengue fever that they had contracted, and a few short days later taking her last breath—most likely a result of the same disease.
We in FH weep with David and his children. We weep for the loss; for the years of ministry and service that could have been, but now will not be; for a world that remains broken until Christ returns to breathe new life into it. But in the midst of weeping for Melinda, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica when he says that we do no grieve as those who have no hope. Because of the Resurrection, we know that her face shines much brighter now than any earthly photograph ever captured. And in another very real sense, Melinda’s impact continues in the people she touched, the lives she help to mend, and the places that she called home for a time.
Melinda was a Proverbs 31 woman, one who gave up her comfort so that her family and everyone else she touched would have better lives and be drawn closer to Christ. We celebrate her life. We pray for her family and friends. We give thanks to the Lord for His special daughter and the legacy that she leaves in FH and the world at large. Our prayer is that we can faithfully carry the torch that she has passed to all of us.