Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Joshua's Friend Talks About Loss Through Suicide
Dana McGregor, a missionary for the youth, is featured in this high school graduation photo with his best buddies, dubbed The Crew. Shorter than Joshua, Dana stands to Joshua's left, his arm slung around him. Joshua holds The Crew's signed soccer ball.
Dana has agreed to this interview about his loss of a best friend, Joshua Williams. First, though, we want to understand who Dana is and what makes him tick.
What do you like to do for fun?
I really Love Life! I really enjoy Surfing and playing soccer and making people laugh and living a life that is completely free in Christ.
What sport did you play in college?
I played soccer at Fresno State University in California.
Has playing soccer changed your life?
Playing soccer has given me a purpose to exist, a desire to excel, and makes me come alive when I play. So yes! Soccer has had a huge impact in my life.
How far did you advance in the sport of soccer?
I played Professional Soccer, Indoor and Outdoor, for four years. The Lord has allowed me to play and coach soccer in over twenty countries throughout my life and many more to come.
Could you tell us where God prompted you to go after graduation?
I went to Beirut, Lebanon for seven months and played with a Palestinian team. Then, I moved to South Africa and played nine months over there and worked with an Orphanage and did Prison Ministry.
How old were you when you first met Joshua? Could you tell us a favorite story about what you did together as boys?
I met Josh when I first moved to the Central Coast of California in 4th grade at Shell Beach Elementary School. We really became close in 7th and 8th grade at Judkins Middle School where together we grew our hair long. And of course in high school we hung out all the time causing a lot of mischief.
But most of all, I just loved being with Josh. He was comforting and peaceful to be with, and I loved making him laugh. In high school he became a Christian, and I use to curse all the time and it would make him chuckle. After we would surf in the ocean, I loved sneaking into hot tubs at different hotels. During those times, we had great conversations and laughs. I would have probably gone off the deep end if it were not for Josh. He kept me taking a second thought about what I was about to do.
What did you admire most about Joshua? What did you admire least?
What I admired most about Joshua was his love for Jesus and his love for his friends. He loved us, and we all benefited from his love, life, and friendship.
What I admired least was sometimes he hid the intimate relationship he had with the Lord. I believe it was because he knew his high school buddy’s hearts didn’t want to hear more about Jesus. In high school, my heart would not let Jesus in, because I was into soccer, my friends, and myself. It was not until my freshman year of college before I came to know Jesus, after I asked a lot of questions about God and life and purpose, etc.
Where were you when you got the phone call about Joshua’s death, and could you tell us what you thought or felt?
I heard the message Jean Williams left on our answering machine from a hotel room in Fresno. My mom said, “You need to hear this message it is very sad.”
I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. I started weeping uncontrollably and hugging my mom and asking God why this had happened. After a while I called Andrew Elliot and Chris Edgerton, good friends of Josh. We comforted one another and wept together over the phone. We were so taken back. It blew us away. Never would have expected it.
How long after Joshua passed before you decided to teach young people suicide is not the answer?
Josh’s death hit me several times throughout the first two years, and I could not stop weeping over him. It took a while to be able to share Josh’s life with kids, because I was still going through the grieving process. But now I share Josh, and The Song the Lord gave to me for Him. People are moved by the song and are touched by the life of Josh.
How did your idea surface to help young people overcome thoughts of suicide?
I figure everyone goes through thoughts of suicide at some point in their life. Whether it is for a couple seconds, or when you entertain the thought of it as in Josh’s case. So, I believe everyone can relate to what he did. What I loved about Josh was his no compromise lifestyle. It was all or nothing. There was no way he could live a life of being lukewarm. Josh loved Jesus!!! Go big or Go Home way of living!!! Maybe this is what he was thinking, not understanding how his actions would hurt those that loved him.
What do you tell young people about the pitfalls of this world?
I share a testimony of my life with how soccer became my identity, but when I had an experience with God’s love my life changed radically. I also share that at times there are trials and pain and hurt and sadness in life, and the Bible says, “. . . we must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) NIV
Also, I share that it is important how we respond to life’s difficulties. Because Paul said, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) KJV
We can turn to God who gives strength through impossible-to-handle situations. If Life were easy we would not need God. He wants us to depend completely on Him for everything because He wants us to, “Trust Him with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) NIV
Where do you think Joshua went wrong?
I don’t hold anything against Josh for what he chose to do, and don’t blame him, or pass judgment on him. The only thing I could say went wrong was entertaining the thought of suicide and acting upon it.
I had not heard from Josh for quite a while because it was my 2nd or 3rd year of College. As I look back, I really wish I could have been there more for him. I wish we had stayed in closer contact, so I could have known his heart and how he struggled. It seems when we share our struggles with our friends it gives us an opportunity to pray for them. It helps bring into light what is in darkness and the temptation loses its power.
You’ve written a song about Joshua. Has writing the words helped you to heal from Joshua’s decision to end his life?
I would say definitely! I felt the Lord gave me the song for Josh and for all his friends and family. For anyone going through the death of a loved one. The Last Lyric says it all, “I will always Love you and I will always remember you!!!
Has losing a friend to suicide affected your life?
Yes, I never, ever want to lose a loved one to suicide again. It hurt terrible. However, I feel like Josh’s life helps me remember to go big for God and lay my life down completely!!! His life and death has been a wake up call for me to live for Jesus one hundred percent. As we would shout when surfing, “Charge it!” I want to Charge Life with Jesus and with everything I am and have.
What are your future goals?
My goals for the Future are to be wherever I am most fruitful for Jesus!!! This is my heart’s desire . . . to live for Him!!!
Do you have any parting words of encouragement to our readers?
I believe that verse in Romans 12:2 being “Transformed by the renewing of our minds,” so key to living a daily lifestyle. Our minds fixed on things above, with our hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus. We are in a battle where Satan wants to destroy our lives. We must work to block any thought or word in our heart that is not of God.
I Love you Josh and Jean and Jim Williams!!! Josh this one’s for you . . . “Freeeeeedoooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmm!”
Thank you Dana for taking time to share your life. God bless you as you take up the cross daily and make a difference for others.