Pastor Tim Challies, a popular Reformed blogger, announced the unexpected death of his only son, who died suddenly on Tuesday.
Challies' 20-year-old son, Nick, was playing a game with his sister, fiancée, and other students at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky when he suddenly collapsed and never regained consciousness. Many tried to resuscitate him to no avail.
"He’s with the Lord he loved, the Lord he longed to serve. We have no answers to the what or why questions," a heartbroken Challies said on his blog Wednesday.
"Yesterday Aileen and I cried and cried until we could cry no more, until there were no tears left to cry. Then, later in the evening, we looked each other in the eye and said, 'We can do this.' We don’t want to do this, but we can do this — this sorrow, this grief, this devastation — because we know we don’t have to do it in our own strength. We can do it like Christians, like a son and daughter of the Father who knows what it is to lose a Son."
The Toronto-based couple traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to be together as a family. Nick Challies was a student at Boyce College, an institution affiliated with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. A memorial service will be held outdoors on the campus of SBTS.
A second memorial service will be held in Toronto after a mandatory quarantine period due to COVID-19 restrictions, likely in two or three weeks.
"Do [you] know how much I and my family appreciate all the love and kindness we’ve been shown," Challies wrote in a Thursday post.
"We often haven’t known how to pray or haven’t been able to find the words to pray. Yet, we’ve known that we are being upheld by your prayers. Those prayers have given us the strength we just haven’t had. We are so very grateful."
Challies spoke with Boyce College students telling them how much his son loved them, the faculty and the administration.
“Our hearts and prayers are with Nick Challies’ loving parents, Tim and Aileen, his sweet sisters Abigail and Michaela, and his devoted fiancée, Anna Kathryn Conley,” wrote SBTS President Al Mohler on Twitter.
“In the mystery of God’s infinite kindness, brothers and sisters in Christ know that our earnest prayers and anguished sympathy really do matter in this time of grief,” he wrote in a letter to the SBTS community.
“They matter to us because we matter to God.”
Challies is a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario and a co-founder of Cruciform Press.