Tears flow at funeral of SDA pastor’s wife killed by fire with 4 others
Under a gloomy sky and with rain coming down like tears from heaven, many wept at the burial service of the five family members of the Pastor of the Dansoman District of the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church, including his wife and his three-week-old baby boy, who died in an inferno at Dansoman in Accra on August 18, 2018.
The thousands of mourners from all walks of life who thronged the campus of the Methodist University could not hold back their tears, as tributes poured in, particularly for Linda Kessie, whom many described as a humble and committed servant of the vineyard.
In a tragedy comparable to what befell the Biblical Job who lost his properties and children in a test of his faithfulness to God, Pastor Ebenezer Kessie lost his 31-year-old wife; 65-year-old mother-in-law, Madam Grace Ampah; his wife’s niece, Precious Pokuaa; his two sons — Jaden, four, and Jason, three weeks, who was buried on the day he was to be christened.
The sorrowful eyes of mourners were fixed on two red and black canopies under which were the five white coffins containing the remains of the deceased, surrounded by their pictures and bouquets of flowers.
By 8 a.m., the usually quiet began to experience probably the heaviest vehicular and human traffic it had seen in years, apart from graduation ceremonies of the Methodist University.
Mourners ran out of sitting space, as the more than 40 canopies could not contain the large number of people who had turned up to mourn with Pastor Kessie, who is also the Assistant Communications Director of the Accra City Conference of the SDA Church.
Flanked by his father, Pastor Anthony Kessie, a former President of the Accra City Conference of the SDA Church, and other relatives, Pastor Kessie sat quietly with his hands folded on his laps.
Tradition would not permit him to shake hands with mourners.
Pastor Kessie’s emotions
In his moment of grief, Pastor Kessie was enveloped in a wave of emotions. With a white handkerchief in his hand, he occasionally wiped his face. Except for a few head nods and chit chats with his father and those around him, he said little.
As the choir sang some cheerful hymns, he occasionally tapped his feet, but as the sermon went on, he stared blankly, probably lost in his thoughts.
But whenever his eyes strayed to the canopy under which the bodies of his loved ones lay in caskets, he buried his face in his palms, clasped his hands, crossed his legs or simply shook his head vigorously.
Earlier, while he filed past the caskets, he was restrained from moving closer, as he was overcome with grief.
In his soul-touching tribute to his wife, he said it was hard to accept her death, especially when he did not have the chance to say goodbye.
“You were taken so suddenly and so shockingly in the most horrific manner at the prime of life and most especially when it seems like an irreplaceable part of my life is gone forever.
“Linda, your death has made me sit down to reflect. It has made me put things in perspective. I am still in a state of shock, wondering if these broken pieces can be put together for me to start life again,” he said.
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“I wish you could hear me, but you cannot. I understand you screamed painfully, together with Jaden, Jason, your mom and your niece, but your voices went so faint that no one could hear you as the fire intensified. I know I should have been home to rescue you but I couldn’t,” he said to “ and ” from the congregation.
Pastor Kessie said he felt empty without the woman he had on June 2, 2013, adding: “I get lost without you, but I am sure you are asleep in the Lord. I wish I could tell myself that you would be back with the children to be with me again. I guess this is the way life goes. God’s will must be accepted.”
About his children, he said: “I’m so unbearably saddened that I’ll never get to see you again. I will never be able to watch you sprout and grow and bloom into the persons I wanted so much to know.”
Love for mother-in-law
He described his mother-in-law as someone whose loss was painful to accept because he bonded so well with her to the extent that they teased each other.
Cecilia Kessie, Pastor Kessie’s mother, also delivered a touching tribute that got the mourners wiping tears from their eyes.
“The past few days have been filled with sorrow, emptiness silence. I guess we are still not recovered from your painful exit. Oh death, did you have to wipe off the entire family with the children? This emotional damage to us can only be repaired by the Almighty. He is the only one we can direct our anguished souls to,” she said.
There were also tributes from the Valley View University Basic School where Linda Kessie taught, the SDA Church Dansoman branch and the Shepherdess International SDA Church in Asante-Mampong,
A sister of Madam Ampah’s who read her biography and those of the children broke down in tears and had to be led away.
In a sermon anchored on the life and sorrows of Job, a former President of the West Central Division of the SDA Church, Pastor Prof. Jacob Jack Nortey, said the church was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the Christian community and the public.
He said while it was difficult to accept the death of the deceased persons, God had His own plans.
“It is hard and difficult but God knows what is best. Today, we may not understand, but tomorrow we will,” he said.
With the tributes and the sermon out of the way, the youth of the church took charge. Dressed in their uniforms, they marched with military precision, with teenagers picking the bouquets, while the seniors, known as the Master Guides, picked the caskets onto a waiting hearse.
While they marched off, scores of pastors lined up for the cortege to pass through in of the departed.
When the caskets of his beloved family members were being picked one by one, Pastor Kessie was embraced by his father, who kept an arm around his son’s shoulder.
When the caskets left the funeral ground, he was led out of the place, with his father’s arm still around his shoulders.