Sorrow and grief are apart of the human predicament.
Adam and Eve were warned by God that when they partook of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, that there would be consequences.
That act was a sin against God's direct Word to them, and a sin against themselves, and the human race, and they, along with us who are all a part of the human race, would be plagued with sin, sickness, and death, both physical and spiritual. However, Jesus Christ, the last Adam (éschatos Adám), has redeemed us with His own precious blood, and the blessings promised to Abraham might be ours, too (Galatians 3:13, 14).
If our precious daughter, Stephanie Ellen Morgan, had lived, she would be 49 years old today, Wednesday, August 3. However, we believe she is more alive now in heaven and will never die again. We believe in the resurrection of the body according to the holy Scriptures.
Stephanie was born at Madigan Army General Hospital at Fort Lewis in Pierce County, Tacoma, Washington on November 18, 1966. Melvine was blessed by God and had the Chief of Obstetrics to deliver Stephanie by Caesarian Section. I was a chaplain at McChord AFB, and assigned to an F106 Fighter Interceptor Squadron as their chaplain, although I had many other assignments and opportunities to minister to the men and women and their families at this strategic Air Force installation in the Air Defense Command, to preach in the Protestant Chapel, and to be the director of religious education and a Sunday school of some 450 students, as well as the sponsor of the Airmen and WAF Ministry to some 75 young men and women in the Air Force in Bible studies, field trips, and weekend retreats. In fact, my office was in the chapel which was one of two twin chapels that had been completely made new through a complete renovation prior to my assignment there. The ministry that God gave me there at McChord AFB was accomplished by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
We knew well in advance the day Melvine would give birth to Stephanie. So, we purchased airline tickets for Melvine's mother, Mary Frances Shropshire Stewart, to fly from the Greensboro/Winston Salem Airport to Seattle, Washington, to what is called Sea/Tac (Seattle/Tacoma International Airport). We would have flown Melvine's father too, but he was afraid of flying, and quoted a Scripture to hide his fear. Here is how it reads: " . . . lo [low], I am with you alway . . . " (Matthew 28:20, KJV). I guess anyone can justify what he or she wants to believe by taking a Scripture out of context. Paul exhorts us how we can be approved by God by"rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). Russell Stewart was a student of the Bible, and knew he was using that Scripture to assuage the intensity of his feelings of fear. He was full of humor and loved to laugh. He was indeed a father to me and helped make me laugh.
Frances Stewart came a few days before the scheduled surgery so she could be familiar with our home, connect with Greg, our son, and get orientated to our military base, which was McChord Air Force Base. No one is better suited and prepared to take care of a new born baby that the mother of the mother giving birth to the child.
Melvine is a planner, and had purchased a special gift for Greg that was given to him by his newly born sister when she came home from the hospital. Melvine wanted Greg to continue to know he was very special too even with the birth of his baby sister, Stephanie.
Gloria Moon, who resides in Franklin Springs, Georgia, and is the daughter of Pastor Phillip and Inez Hart and is married to Dr. Tony Moon, a brilliant professor at Emmanuel College, sent a lovely birthday card to remember Stephanie's birthday a couple of years ago. Here is what Gloria Moon wrote:
"Bro. & Sis. Morgan
This beautiful card makes me think of your beautiful Stephanie--so lovely, so radiant. As her birthday approaches, my thoughts and prayers are with you two and Greg. May God continue to comfort you, as Stephanie continues to sing, rejoice and maybe even "teach a few kindergarteners" in heaven.
Tony and I love you.
Gloria Hart Moon
Gloria Moon is the daughter of the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Hart (Inez) who are the highly loved and respected retired pastors of the Georgia Conference (LifePoint Ministries) who pastored the Flatwoods Pentecostal Holiness Church in Elbert County, GA for some 57 years. Melvine and I were privileged to be a part of a small group of 17 people who made a Holy Land Trip a few years ago with Phillip and Inez Hart along with Greta Campbell and Pat Welch, our tour leaders.
Melvine, Greg and I will drive to her burial in East Athens at Athens Memorial Gardens on US Highway 75 East which has a family granite tombstone with Morgan engraved in large letters on it. It has the name of Gregory H., Hugh H., Melvine S., and Stephanie Ellen. It has our birth dates. Of course it has Stephanie's birth date and the day he died. It has two large flower vases on each end of the monument with artificial flowers in each one which Melvine has arranged. She changes the flowers with the seasons of the year. I drive her and we work on this project together. Melvine purchased three large balloons to celebrate Stephanie's birthday last November. She anchored the balloons with a plastic stake in the ground to hold the helium filled balloons in place.
Today, I want to thank God for allowing us to have Stephanie for 45 years. She was almost perfect. She was joy to be with. She loved to sing and worship the Lord of Glory. She was a student of the Word, and I think could preach at the drop of a hat. She was an inspirational speaker, and never uttered a negative word, although, she knew how to correct me, her dad, when I was wrong.
One day we will see her again in heaven. She is there enjoying the beauties of that heavenly home. That is where I want to go. I want to see Jesus. He is there and that will be glory for me.
Thank you, my dear readers, for allowing me, Stephanie's father, to share my love for our daughter, Stephanie Ellen Morgan. Melvine and Greg join me in thanking you for sharing with us in our grief. We still love God. He has never failed us. He was present when Stephanie breathed her final breath. The Holy Spirit helped me to tell Stephanie how much we all loved her, and as her father, I gave her permission to allow her soul and spirit to be released from her body and go to be with the Lord. She breathed her last breath shortly after I released her soul and spirit from her earthly body. She will one day have a glorified body.
John, the beloved apostle, wrote these inspired words concerning the death of the saints: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them" (Revelation 14:13, NKJV).
[Editor's footnote: It is interesting that I completed my three-year enlistment as a Marine at Quantico, VA, on August 3, 1956. My best friend, Eddie Dong, a clarinet player in our band, drove me in his Cadillac the Train Depot in Quantico. As I recall, I had everything I owned in a duffle bag, a suitcase, and my trombone in my trombone case. That passenger train took me to my home in Birmingham, Alabama. I never saw Eddie Dong again. His father was the well-known American-Chinese water color artist who taught at Columbia University and was a judge for many years in the Miss America Pageant. It is little wonder that my best friend was Chinese. My mother, Julia Payne Morgan, was a missionary to Hong Kong and Pakhoi, China from 1920-1929, prior to Julia Payne marrying the Rev. Hugh Henry Morgan in Oklahoma City in July 1929 at the General Conference. Bishop Dan T. Muse, a friend of my father conducted the wedding ceremony. They were in love and had a successful marriage until death separated them when my mother died in April 1972. She was almost 83 at the time of her death. My father lived to be 94. My older sister, Mary Evelyn Morgan McDuff died this year.]