I realized that my post yesterday made it seem as if Mesa had died from his tooth infection. Actually I first thought he had had an aneurism as the first piece of information we received about his death was that he had suffered a terrible headache and died in the taxi on the way to the airport. The cause of death is, in fact, much more complicated so that it was difficult for me to write about it yesterday without a cultural discussion. I also wanted to be fair to who Mesa was and not focus on his tragic behavior.
Results of the autopsy showed that Mesa died of alcohol poisoning. On Christmas night he and a good friend of his went out drinking and consumed too much too quickly.
In Mozambique Christians do not drink. While this seems legalistic to those of us from America and Europe, what must be understood is that the context is one in which there is no concept of moderation. When Mozambicans drink, they drink to get drunk. People here do not go out for a leisurely drink with friends or have a glass of wine with a meal.
Therefore the cause of death is more serious here than it might be in a Western context. It not only means a shameful death but also means Mesa’s life cannot be held up as a testimony.
Ultimately we do know that God is sovereign over all of this, and we believe that Mesa is with Him now. At the funeral today the director of Oasis spoke of Mesa’s life, not ignoring how he died, but choosing to focus at how he served in life.
Unfortunately, it will be a difficult healing process for his wife and family. His family are not Christians, and his father was drunk himself when we visited two days ago. (They are also likely spending the rest of today drinking.) It will also be a difficult healing process for those who served alongside him in Oasis and the church. It will not be an easy start to the New Year when the office reopens on Wednesday.