We'll see you again, my friend
Last updated 3/17/2013 at 1:20pm
At one or more times in our lives, we will all receive news that we did not expect nor want. But nonetheless we must accept, like it or not.
Such a time occurred when I received a phone call from Wiconi International informing me that Richard Twiss had suffered a major heart attack. Richard was in Washington to attend the annual National Prayer Breakfast. The following day he was to meet with cabinet members at the White House. That was not to be. Three days later, we received another call telling us the news we had been dreading--that he had passed on. Richard had crossed over to the other side to be with his Creator and Savior whom he loved and served.
As news spread of his passing, people throughout the world began to send in messages of condolence and tell the impact this man had made in their lives.
“Richard was a dear friend and a truly wonderful man,” wrote well-known speaker and author Dr. Tony Campolo. “This is a deeply sad day and is an incredible loss to his family but it is also an incredible loss to all indigenous people who are struggling for identity within the context of their own cultures while holding firm to the Christian faith.”
Shane Claiborne of A Simple Way wrote: “This weekend I was set to speak in Detroit. A few hours before the event, I got news that our brother Richard Twiss had crossed over to the other side, after a massive heart attack a few days ago. With tears running down my face, we started the event by lighting a candle for Richard and putting his big ole smiling face up on the screen—and we carried him with us through the evening.”
Shane went on to write: “I went to bed staring at the ceiling, smiling as I thought of all the great memories of Richard...Though he left us much sooner than I would have hoped, his life was a full, beautiful, life well lived. A life that pointed to Jesus.”
Adrian Jacobs, author of The Meeting of Two Ways, wrote this about his friendship with Richard. “...the last couple of months we did reconnect. We laughed, we drank, we ate, we chatted, we talked about many things, just like old times...I grieve so deeply now and long for you still. This sadness provokes the tears that Jesus will have to wipe away because there is nothing I can do to dry them myself. Farewell, my dear brother Richard...I am your friend forever!”
“This is a profound loss for the Kingdom,” lamented Alec Hill, InterVarsity’s president. “Richard was one of those rare souls; he touched a deep chord in so many of us. His joy, wisdom, and kindness made a deep impact....”
Paula Fuller, InterVarsity’s Vice President of Multiethnic Ministries, said of Richard, “He was a partner and friend who journeyed faithfully with us, and contributed greatly to InterVarsity’s multiethnic development.”
I first met Richard at the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous Peoples in Rapid City, South Dakota in 1998. In the years since then, as I got to know him, I knew that he had a message that Native and non-Native people needed to hear.
Since 2004, I have worked for Richard as writer and editor in addition to serving as editor of Indian Life. Richard knew that Indian Life was of benefit to all Native ministries including Wiconi.
Our movie reviewer Willie Krischke and his wife Megan work with college students in Durango, Colorado. In many ways, Willie sums up my feelings about Richard—especially when I first met him.
“When I first met him,” says Willie, “I was terribly intimidated by him. Not only was he brilliant and willing to challenge everything I ever thought I knew about God and the Bible, he was 6-foot-5 with a booming voice. But the first time he teased me, I knew I was okay. I will always remember him for his earthy, often surprising sense of humor.”
Richard was fearless in speaking the truth but he always did it in love. From his unique Native perspective and his incredible humor, he made a powerful impact in the hearts of Native and non-Native people. Richard’s sole desire was that his people come to know Jesus and be all He created them to be as Indigenous people.
We are so glad we got to know Richard, work with him, and best of all, to call him friend. I can picture him dancing in heaven in his beautiful regalia, praising and worshiping the Greatest of All Chiefs—our Creator and Savior, Jesus.
In the Lakota tradition, there is no word for goodbye. So instead, we say, “Toksa ake (We’ll see you again), Richard—brother, friend, and uncle!”