Part of my job as a newspaper reporter is writing what we call “news or feature stories” and at times I write postscripts word portraits of a recently deceased person’s life.
Last week I witnessed the burial of a renowned pastor who lost her life to brain cancer.
The day before her funeral, I went to Prayer Palace Church to meet her closest friends. We talked while they prepared for the after-funeral crowd of people who would come to comfort the late Kanyange’s family.
I was there as a newspaper reporter, to gather information about this woman I had known for more than three years. To my loss, I hadn’t known her very well.
When she got admitted at King Faisal Hospital a few weeks before her death over a terrible headache which indicated brain tumors, it was diagnosed as brain cancer, I thought of this abrupt health disorder that claimed this renowned prophetess.
A friend I talked to told me that the deceased’s goal was to live longer, so as she could see her daughter graduate from university.
On the day before her funeral, I followed Kanyange’s friends around with my notebook and voice recorder as they vacuumed. I was struck by how many friends were there.
I was also struck by the stories they told me about her, about the depth of her love for them. Even when she was sick and knew she was dying, she was all loving.
One friend called her a “nurturer.” She loved other people’s children almost as much as she loved her own, even letting troubled kids stay with her family for as long as they needed. She was famous for helping girls who changed their lives from prostitution.
Another woman said Jane Kanyange was warm and welcoming that all people who went for counseling poured all the truth about what was in their lives, their feelings, no matter how ugly or painful.
She counseled them with scriptures she had memorized, and she walked with them through their hard times.
She didn’t leave when things got tough. She stayed the course.
She was the type of person who showed up on your doorstep at the exact moment you needed a shoulder to cry on.”
In the months before she died, that’s when she truly lived, her friends said. “Every conversation with Kanyange was one that mattered,” her friend one Alice said.
Before she died, Kanyange told everyone to repent and come back to God but no one understood that it was her last message to her loved church congregation.
“Anybody can teach you how to live,” Alice said, “but she taught me how to die.”
Life is so short, and we, get so caught up in what truly doesn’t matter. I left Prayer Palace church grateful to have been reminded that what matters is how we live along the way to the finishing line.
The apostle Paul said, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).Her legacy is left behind. She lived well and she died well, because she loved well.
I hope it’s not too late for me. Because of her great love to the church, friends and relatives started what they identified as Kanyange Foundation and many contributed towards it for the betterment of her family.