The 900 Project presents This scholarship in memory of
Sumith Jacob Alex Memorial - August 2018
As we were planning the trip this year, we had an abundant amount of interest from people to join our team. There was even a time when we had a waiting list. Last year we struggled to bring a big enough team. Although small in number we had an amazing trip last year. As we got the agenda for this year Matt and I knew we wanted to preach in the Loma church together. We were not sure of the topic but then our team experienced the unexpected. A curve ball that no one saw coming. A story of a life, a hero, and a brother of ours, a story that needs to be shared to other countries and we wanted to share it with you.
Last year we brought our good friend Josh and Tom on this trip. Josh was from Black Rock Church and our community group that met once a week at our house. Josh and his wife became good friends of ours. I remember him saying that their background was from India and their family does many missionary trips to India that He and Tom wanted to experience a new country and new missionary field. Both Josh and Tom came last year, I’d imagine you guys remember them, and fell in love with all of you. Josh and Tom both came home more passionate about DR and Haiti as well as The 900 Project.
As we began planning the trip for this year Josh desired to come but wasn’t sure if he could with his work schedule. But through his amazing experience last year encouraged his sister and brother in-law to sign up. Jana and Sumith are a young Indian couple, just Married, August 5, 2017. This August would have been their one year anniversary. They got their flights, filled out the forms and joined our team without hesitation. They lived In Michigan but were going to drive to CT to fly with us from JFK to Santiago. They were dedicated Christians who didn’t mind the sacrifice, time off work, and going out of their way to meet their family in Loma.
Unfortunately, on June 6, 2018. Sumith lost his life. He was boating with his wife and in-laws when they saw a boat nearby flip over. They saw a man screaming for help, trying to stay afloat. They threw out a rope, life vest but he couldn’t grab it. They kept saying we have to do something, we have to help him. Before Jana knew it, Sumith jumped into the water, without a life vest, trying to save a guy named Bob. Jana never thought that her invincible, superman, untouchable husband would not come up from the water that day, and neither did Bob.
We’ve all heard the Good Samaritan story a thousand times. The priest walks by and a Levite walks by an injured man, beaten and bruised on the side of the road yet a Samaritan man stopped and helped. He took pity on him, bandaged his wounds, put him on a donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. He paid his expenses and anything it would cost him in the future, without doubt. Yet Sumith, saw a man in danger, a boat flipped over, and drowning and chose to jump in to help him. He jumped into the cold waters of Michigan to save a stranger, someone he didn’t even know, a man who’s name we only know from his obituary. Sumith gave it all, he ultimately gave up his life for his friend. As John 15:13 states; “Greater has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
This is the unthinkable story for his family and friends. We were shocked to hear this news. We grieved with them for a man we didn’t even get the pleasure of meeting. We know Josh and Tom, their family, and our hearts grieved with them during this time. But through this grieving time I have learned so much about Sumith and his life. I have seen pictures of him and can’t help but think of the life he lived just as Jesus did. But nothing impacted me more than hearing the Eulogy of his wife, Jana. Five days prior she witnessed her husband’s death. She lost her soulmate, her husband, and best friend. Yet she stood up at the funeral with Peace, Poise and confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I could never imagine being in this situation and being so composed, confident and able to relate their lives to Jesus. She spoke of how they fell in love, their conversations, and their life together, and that she had the privilege of knowing him for the past 11 years. She didn’t harp on the time they will miss but on the time she had with him. She talked about Sumith’s passion for learning, reading, sports and most of the bible. He told her on many occasions that he knew God was with him. She even referred to him a few days before the accident that he was superman. He could do it all and not be shaken. She transitioned that it wasn’t about her love story or our love story anymore but it was about Christ’s love story. That Sumithwas not invincible but we know who is, Jesus Christ. It’s the love story of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf and that drew Sumith to do the same. Jana states that she grew up in a Christian home, knew Jesus her entire life but it wasn’t until June 6 that she fully understood His love for her. She knows what Sumith went through but understood that Jesus went through more. She is fully confident that Sumith was truly immortal now. He is with Jesus and dancing with Him in heaven. She stated it was truly a privilege, honor to know Sumith and that she will see him again. She closed by singing the song Oceans. She realized that even in the depths of the water that Jesus was there with Sumith.
I am completely floored and inspired by Jana’s strength and perspective on life. How could she be so composed and confident in her Eulogy that she wasn’t prepared for? How could she bring out so many positives of their life together when their marriage got cut short? I personally am inspired and questioning my own faith. How can I dig deeper into Gods word? How can I become someone that isn’t shaken by loss and grief? How can I be prepared for the valleys that are to come? The only answer is leaning on Jesus and his word. I know life will be different for her and that this experience was the most difficult one she has ever had to deal with but her faith has been tested and she is continuing to trust in God and run the race he set out for her. I pray that their story has touched your life to the point that when trials come they don’t turn you away from God but that your foundation is strong enough to lean on Him and continue to point others to him as well. May Sumith be dancing with Jesus for eternity and may we honor his life through our actions until we reach heaven as well.