REPORT ON THE FUNERAL OF CYNTHIA MULLAPUDI (1991 to 2016)
We received the tragic news of the shooting death of Cynthia on the morning of April 30, Saturday. The incident occurred just a five minute drive from the church in the Parkway Plaza parking lot.
New Life Church was asked to do the funeral.
Several of the church family visited the family over the week leading up to the funeral, providing care in many different ways.
On May 6, Friday evening, the church opened its doors for visitation from 6 PM to 9 Pm without the casket. Several media outlets were present in the church parking lot by 5 PM. John, Shoba, Shirley and Susan came at 6 PM, accompanied by close family members.
Mourners came and went expressing their grief and condolences. Three of our men kept singing hymns of comfort, interspersed with Scripture readings and brief prayers. Many youth were visibly shaken and mourned openly. At 8.30 PM we all went to the parking lot for a candlelight vigil. Around 200 had gathered for the function. The media had all their cameras focussed on the front doors of the church from where the family emerged. John Mullapudi read from a script to the media but couldn’t finish as he was overcome by emotion. His wife Shoba stood by his side holding on to a large portrait of her deceased daughter. Someone finished reading the script. I was then able to declare the Gospel and pray, with all the gathered youth listening intently. Everyone lighted their candles and then balloons were lit and let to float in the sky. It was quite a sight to see all these lit lanterns fill the sky. The cameras captured it all and later shown on TV channels. Then we all went inside for refreshments and coffee. The girl who drove the ill-fated car, Ravina, came into the church at this time and wept uncontrollably for about 15 minutes. (She will need extensive counselling)
On Saturday, May 07 at 9 AM the casket was brought to the church and kept open for the mourners to file past. The church was packed out and the parking lot overflowed with vehicles. At 11 AM the service began after a very emotional closing of the casket. It was a simple service, the highlight being the two sisters sharing with great composure the memories of their sister. There was live streaming of the service and relatives and friends in India were able to watch it and follow the service. We then travelled to the graveside where the body was committed to the ground and the soul to the Lord. Again, it was heart breaking to see the family kneel by the coffin to bid a final goodbye to their loved one.
As I watched the mourning and the youth file by laying a flower on the coffin, it was another altar call to rededicate my life to winning the youth for the Lord Jesus Christ. Please pray for ALL the youth who heard the Gospel that they will open up their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.
We came back to the church where lunch was served for all who attended the funeral.
The family was amazingly strengthened by the grace of God to endure the worst nightmare of anyone’s life.
Cynthia and her two sisters had been baptized in another church last September. Cynthia knew the Lord. I was also powerfully reminded of the need to disciple those who turn to Christ lest they fall thru the cracks.
The New Life Church family performed admirably and it was beautiful to see all the gifts of the Spirit in full operation over the week of the funeral. Everyone did their part often going the second mile to ensure that all the bases were covered.
Yesterday, May 11th, I visited the family with one of our board members and spent nearly three hours with the family. They talked openly and freely and of course all the questions keep coming up in a tragic death as this one. I read the Word and prayed and had a meal with them. They are planning to come to New Life this Sunday for service. We are committed to caring for this family over the long haul and the road ahead is very difficult for them. When the trial comes up of the murderer it will be very painful to go thru the trial.
God willing, we are planning on a memorial service on June 04 PM.
Please keep praying for the family.
The same week I had two other funerals – one of our international students, Ami by name, got tragic news from India to say that her first cousin, a young man, had been burned to death. We had a private service for her in a relative’s home.
One of my walking buddies, Hector, died suddenly. His wife cam in search of me to the Mall to tell me the news. I went to the funeral home and had a great opportunity to share stories of Hector, proclaim the Gospel and pray. There was a large gathering present at that time.
I will be officiating at another funeral on May 21, at the invitation of a church without a Pastor (I have already done two funerals for them this year)
On another note, Mahad our convert from Islam to Christ, is making great progress in his faith. On Mother’s Day, (last Sunday), his mother Farzana came to church. We were all overjoyed and showered her with love. Mahad’s dad is a medical doctor serving in Saudi Arabia, and will be in Toronto on a vacation in two week’s time. This is when Mahad is planning to tell his parents that he has become a Christian. So please pray for Mahad in this very difficult challenge ahead of him.
Thank you for all your words of encouragement and prayers during this challenging time for the church.
This story was submitted by Benjamin Devadason, Pastor at New Life Christian Church in Toronto, ON.