Training … and a Transition to Heaven


Looking back on the first half of 2019, we are grateful for the training and trips we have taken to Nepal twice (January and May), Israel (March), and Ethiopia (April). All of these trips were fruitful. In addition, the leaders we have trained in Uganda and Brazil are training others, who are training others, who are training others. We rejoice that much fruit is being born.

Another training is scheduled this month (July) to Nepal (Phil Graf will lead this one), next month (August) to El Salvador (I will lead this training along with Stan Gerlach), September to Europe (Traction retreat for at risk missionaries, plus visit three churches, two of which we planted), and October back to Nepal.


As I was putting the above report together (July 5th), I received a phone call from my friend Rod Stiling to tell me that our long-time friend Gary Edmonds had drifted into a coma due to a lingering battle with colon cancer. His family and friends knew his condition was grave but thought that the end was several months away. Along with others, Sharon and I were shocked at Gary’s sudden turn for the worse.

Yesterday morning (July 6th) his wife Tricia replied to an email I sent the night before,

“Thank you, Linus! There is not much change today, but they tell us he is progressing towards the end. I am doing ok. Our kids are all here, Gary’s mom (93yrs Old) and [two of his brothers] Dave and Jim.”

Then, last night she sent the following message:

“Our beloved Gary just took his final breath. He’s in the arms of Jesus. No more pain or suffering, only joy to be in heaven.”


I met Gary when he was a first-year student at UCLA, and he became involved in our campus ministry. He spent the Christmas school break in our home, recovering from surgery due to a football injury. His leadership gifts and sincere faith in Jesus surfaced, and in 1971 we put together a basketball team and travelled to southeast Asia, sharing the good news of Jesus at the half-time of the 54 games we played.

Sports Ambassadors, Gary first row, second from left

The next summer we organized a second team, played games, and shared the Gospel from West to East Africa, as well as in Israel. Thereafter we began playing and reaching out all over Europe summer after summer.

News (Good News) Release Basketball Ministry

During the school year, Gary and by then his wife Tricia, attended the Light and Power House biblical training center. This is the ministry Sharon and I helped start just off the UCLA campus. Gary and Tricia then moved to Europe to follow up the contacts we had made during our summer basketball ministry trips. They were soon followed by fellow UCLA and Light and Power House students Chris and Debbie Hall and Vince Leong, and Fuller Seminary graduate Jeff and his wife Donna Berkheiser.

After a decade of basketball-ministry, we felt God impressing upon us that Europe needed new style churches. Churches that were Biblically-based, Christ-centered, Grace-oriented, Spiritually-vibrant, and Outreach-focused. The Edmonds, Halls, and Morrises then felt God leading us to move to France just across the border of Geneva, Switzerland, to launch the Crossroads church (I was the one most reluctant to move but was coaxed by Gary and Chris to join them).

What an adventure it was to move three families to a new culture and start the church.


Sharon and I spent four years in France, helping launch the Crossroads. Chris and Debbie stayed on another year, and Gary with Tricia remained and pastored and stewarded the church for a decade. After transitioning the church to a new pastor, Gary went on to become Senior Associate Pastor at Mariners/South Coast Fellowship, and carry out executive roles at Interdev, Churches Together, the World Evangelical Alliance and Breakthrough Partners. Most recently he served as President of Food for the Hungry.

Gary leaves behind his beloved partner Tricia, four children and their families. Here is one of my favorite photos of them when the children were young, while still living in France.

Karina, Matt, Kimberly, and Andrew with their mom and dad

In his years of ministry, Gary touched thousands of lives. I’m thankful I met that UCLA freshman from Oregon in 1968. Our world will miss him…his friends will miss him…I will miss him…most of all his family will miss him…but just for a little while.

A number of artists, including Johnny Cash, have done versions of a song entitled “Ain’t No Grave.” The chorus of the version by Molly Skaggs says,

“There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down. There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down. When I hear that trumpet sound. There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down.”

The reason “there ain’t no grave gonna hold Gary’s body down” is because, as the song’s lyrics go on to declare,

“there ain’t no grave could hold His [Jesus] body down.”

The musician Crowder’s version says it even louder,

Oh my Lord I can barely sing
Waiting for You and Your reckoning
Angels hummin’, can you hear the sound?
Ain’t no grave gonna hold me down
Ain’t no grave gonna hold me down
I will rise, I will rise
I will rise, I will rise
Troubles come for everyone
Death has no respect for love
Roll that stone I won’t be found
Ain’t no grave gonna hold me down

Tricia said it perfectly,

“Our beloved Gary just took his final breath. He’s in the arms of Jesus. No more pain or suffering, only joy to be in heaven.”

Ain’t no grave gonna hold his body down. He left this world in pain, he entered heaven to the sound of cheering upon his arrival, unlike anything he had ever heard on earth.

Grateful for the Savior’s servants Gary and Tricia,

Linus and Sharon

One thought on “Training … and a Transition to Heaven

  1. Dear Linus and SHARON- Sad news indeed yet we rejoice in the upward call of God, the transition to heaven—ain’t no grave going to hold Garry down! love you guys and condolences to the Edmonds. GARY & Tricia Were always gracious and kind to me and welcomed me as part of the CA family out in Thousand Oaks after being on campus at UCLA. One of our beloved founding families of CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL, where first NEWS RELEASE🏀🏀🏀 basketball brought about a full court press to bring the gospel around the world And then through Christian Associates👍 Church planting.


    Mark F. Dodd ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, SECURITY GUILD HALL 158 Main Street East Hampton NY 11937 631-324-0806 631-276-7925 cell


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