I was deeply saddened to hear about the drowning death of a friend's 15-year-old son Saturday.
My friend is Georgia State Patrol Trooper First Class Rich Fishel, who lives in Augusta, but who is assigned to the GSP's post in Thomson. His son, Stephen, who enjoyed drawing and never met a stranger, lost his life while swimming with a friend.
I attended the funeral on Wednesday at Curtis Baptist Church in Augusta. During the service, I learned much more about the life of Stephen Fishel - the biggest being what a tremendous believer he was in Jesus Christ.
His parents wrote in their son's obituary that Stephen "was the perfect example of what a Christian should be."
I personally don't think a family could pay a finer compliment to a loved one. It quickly told me something about my friend and his wife's Christian beliefs and how they wanted their sons to be raised - walking with Jesus Christ everyday.
Stephen had a profound affect on others. He wanted them to be the best they could be, too, in God's sight.
We all, no matter our age, can learn much from how Stephen lived his life.
His family said he enjoyed drawing and had a zest for life. They explained that one of his biggest goals in life was to draw people to the Lord. What a wonderful goal! I'm quite certain that God was most pleased with Stephen.
His death has touched many, many people, including those who work with his father at the local patrol post.
After covering an assignment at a church in Thomson last Sunday, I stopped by the GSP post to offer my personal condolences, as well as to extend them on behalf of the staff of our newspaper. Since I cover a lot of news stories that involve state troopers, I know many of them and consider them friends - not just troopers. They are wonderful, caring people. Trooper Fishel and his wife, Melanie, are examples of some of those fine people.
Stephen's death even touched a Grovetown man to the point that he brought to the post an Easter Lilly on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier this year, that same man had been arrested by Trooper Fishel for driving under the influence and a seatbelt violation. The man shed tears at the loss of the trooper's son.
When I was told about that by another friend, I thought what a compassionate person that man must surely be.
When I discovered what a fine young Christian boy Stephen was and that one of his biggest goals in life was to draw people to the Lord, I wondered whether or not Jesus Christ was working to draw that man closer to Him.
I think it very well could be that He did, because through God, many wonders often unfold. What an awesome, merciful and forgiving God we serve!
I pray that God will continue to comfort my friend's family through their grief and make them even stronger Christians.