I found out that a young man whom I haven't spoken with in a few years passed away this weekend. It was from a brain aneurism that hit him Saturday morning without any warning or medical history in this genre. By Saturday night, this literally healthy and highly athletic 18-year old kid's body died.
His name was Dustyn Mogdis... although he has a new name now. He graduated from Belding High School in 2005 with a 4.0 (even though he had ADHD), played football, worked at Clarion, and was saving up money to move out on his own as well as attend college in the fall. He lived with his dad Scott and stepmom Kim, and has two brothers - Jeff and Shaun.
And he l-o-v-e-d Jesus Christ.
I remember when I was his youth pastor (at the church I currently interim teach at) that this middle school kid and his brothers would come in every week because he hitched a ride with one of our volunteer leaders. (Side note - if you have ever been a volunteer youth worker, thank you.) He came from the downside of life with a lot of things against him... simple economic background, middle child, ADHD, and so on. Not to mention he was about to do what most high school boys do to prove their identity - go out for football.
Only he thought much deeper than finding his identity in sports. We'd talk after our youth programs... he'd ask questions, and I'd do my best to answer them. One Wednesday night we stood by the part of the multi-purpose room that has an open window into the kitchen. With his eyes darting all over the place as he was deep in thought and consideration, Dustyn knew that receiving Jesus to be his Savior and Lord just had to be done. So we prayed together and celebrated like it was 1999 (even though it was actually 2001). I reached into the kitchen and gave him a free candy bar and Bible of his own.
Soon after that, Dustyn wanted to go public with his faith and so he signed up for a baptism service. He invited every family member and friend he could think of... and they came. He asked me to be the one to baptize him, and I happily and humbly did. When he came up from the water the cheers were deafening... it was like someone spiking the football in the endzone during the Super Bowl, only better.
He received a cross necklace that night from his family. In every picture he ever took for school he purposefully would have it dangling out as a statement of faith.
Time moved on, and without going into too many details I eventually left this church. It was abrupt and awkward for everyone, especially the students. It's hard enough for adults when a pastor leaves, but it's even harder on students... especially ones you're close to. For many teenagers a youth pastor is their incarnational link to God - "always there." They expect to be the ones to graduate and leave him or her behind (which some teens do with God, too). When it's the other way around and the youth worker leaves, they don't take being alone very well... sometimes they even interpret it to mean God has abandoned them, too (or "maybe he never really was there to be counted on in the first place").
The church brought in a couple of guys to lead the ministry after I left. They were great guys, but somewhere in the shuffle... Dustyn and his brothers stopped coming. Pretty soon the momentum continued and it became a long break away. Ironically, I also found out from Dustyn's girlfriend that he wanted to go back and was planning on attending somewhere today.
Then his body died... yesterday.
Although he lives on.
Amazingly, though, he was also an organ donor.
As of today he has not only joined God in heaven but has also helped five more people extend their life on earth. Even though you may not know Dustyn, you may know one of these people. And so maybe you know Dustyn after all. Five lives all around the state and country.
Perhaps you and I will run into one of those people...
perhaps you and I will share Jesus with them.
Please be in prayer for the Mogdis family and friends.