“Actions speak louder than words.” We have all heard that statement, and if anyone doubted the truth of it, then I would encourage them to consider the life of my friend Jeremy Heath. Jeremy was a kid that I met over a dozen years ago when he and his family started to attend the church I was ministering at as a youth pastor in New York. As a member of our youth group, Jeremy was a quiet kid, but he had a great smile and laugh. He loved hunting, fishing, riding four wheelers and snowmobiles, playing paintball and Xbox. He went on countless youth activities, and participated in several mission’s trips with me.

After graduation I watched Jeremy fall in love with a girl who also attended the youth group, and he eventually worked up enough courage to ask her to marry him. I had the privilege to work with them on their pre-marital counseling, and then to perform their wedding. During this time, Jeremy began to work at our local Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, where his consistent and hard work was noticed and rewarded with promotions to different management positions within the store. As with any young couple, Jeremy and his wife Megan, desired to have children, and God blessed them with two beautiful boys. Life was breezing along for Jeremy until late August of 2012. It was at that time that Jeremy, at the age of 29, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He immediately had surgery to remove the tumor, but was unable to receive any treatment following the surgery. The tumor grew back, at which time he underwent another surgery, and this time began treatment. Unfortunately, the tumor grew back a third time, and the doctors were unable to do another surgery. As a result, Jeremy lost his battle with cancer and was called home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Monday, April 1, 2013.

My family and I returned to New York, where I had the privilege to minister at Jeremy’s memorial, but more importantly, where I was ministered to by Jeremy’s life. Over the course of the two days of Jeremy’s calling hours and memorial service, I learned that even though he was soft-spoken, it did not mean that Jeremy did not have an impact on people in which he came in contact. At his viewing, over 600 people showed up and shared their condolences with the family. The average wait time in the line was an hour and half, and no one left. The next day over 350 people showed up to his funeral, and celebrated Jeremy’s life and the God he loved and faithfully served, to the end. One of the most incredible testimonies to the impact that Jeremy had on people he came in contact with, was the number of co-workers from Lowe’s who took the time off, as well as the income from that time, to attend the calling hours and memorial service. In fact, there were so many co-workers impacted by the quiet life of Jeremy and took the time off, that the Lowe’s store they all worked at had to call in workers from other stores 30 minutes or more away in order to have enough workers to keep their store open.

Jeremy lived out the command of I John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” And at the end of his life, it showed the kind of impact that loving in deed and truth can have on others. I never sat and listened to Jeremy teach a lesson on this passage. Instead, I watched him live it out, and I learned so very much. Thank you Jeremy for teaching me this, and many more lessons, in your life lived here on this earth.