Snowboarder’s Second Last Sermon
Desmond John Prins
It was just another Sunday evening church service and a young Christian man had been asked to preach a Gospel message. Spiritual issues are so real and so serious, you just don’t wing it. You prepare beforehand and that’s exactly what this young man did. His handwritten notes make it obvious: the burden of his heart was the brevity of life. He wanted to remind his audience that life is extremely short.
Older people often reflect on life and realize it is just like a vanishing vapor from a kettle. But this young Christian was only twenty two. That Sunday night he chose for his Bible texts:
"O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah. Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! "And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
The other Bible verse on his heart came from the Epistle of James:
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life?
It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Desmond Prins on Sunday evening, April 13, 2008 spoke on the ‘brevity of life and God’s offer of forgiveness based on the completed work of Christ.’
Nine days later, on Monday, April 21, 2008, Desmond was snowboarding with two of his friends when he fell about 50 meters over Maintenance Cliffs, below the famed West Bowl just outside the boundary of Lake Louise Mountain Resort in Alberta. He was no amateur snowboarder but he wasn’t invincible. No one is.
It doesn’t just happen to other people. Life isn’t just brief and fragile for others. For Desmond his 22 years of life came to an end the next day – exactly ten days after his second last sermon.
Desmond (far right) was the eldest son of John and Ann Prins of Sarnia, Ontario. He was big brother to David, Seth, Brennan and Lenie.
As you read this – think about what others will say about you when your short life ends and you become a memory and a cherished photo on a mantle piece.
900+ people gathered for the funeral of Des but there was an upbeat tone to the service despite the buckets of tears shed. His young friends (and old ones too) all stood and sang the hymns Desmond loved so much. Have you ever heard 900 people singing with all their heart?
“How could there be an air of triumph on such an occasion,” you ask.
There were many questions about ‘why’ such a tragedy happened but there was no question about what had become of Desmond. Before the funeral home morticians touched his body, Desmond was in the presence of the Lord. Desmond was in Heaven - where all who know the Saviour go when they die.
When he was just nine years old, he personally trusted Jesus as His Saviour through the words of this famous Bible verse:
For God so loved the world
That He gave His only begotten Son
That whosoever believeth in Him
Should not perish
But have everlasting life.
What does that verse mean to you? Desmond realized he was a sinner and that Jesus died for him. That’s when he became a Christian.
Are you a Christian? You see, just because Desmond’s parents are Christians and he was brought up in a Christian church did not make Desmond a Christian. No one has always been a Christian and no one evolves into being a Christian. Becoming a Christian is consciously entering for the first time into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by placing your trust in Him as your Saviour.
Are you a real Christian? Do you have the real thing?
Desmond had a tight circle of friends. They dirt-biked, snowboarded, fished and camped together.
They did their road trips and had their crazy times together as well. But the circle now has been broken. Death does that. One friend reflected on Des this way:
“We all know Des was a great guy...a little on the quiet side, not that he was shy, just....quiet mannered. The guy was a workhorse as well, if it was a Saturday, Des was putting in at least a few extra hours while the majority of us were slacking on the beach somewhere. If there ever was a word to describe him, it would be DETERMINED. Whether it was a stunt, or trying to build something or do the impossible he was GOING to DO IT. (Bruises always followed as well.) Des was also one of the few guys who would show up at a prayer meeting before the gospel was preached, even when he was not a member of the local church. I remember listening to him pray for others.”
Other friends spoke of his generosity and sensitivity. One of his friends said: “Desmond was always the one in the group who had a smile.”
Of course, Desmond was not perfect. He had his rough teen years. He had his struggles just like you but what Desmond had that maybe you don’t have was - he had a personal relationship with the Lord. Christ was more than a piece of Christian folklore or a religious fact with Des. He had a personal relationship with Him and it was real and growing.
You know about the Lord but do you have a real relationship with Him? You may know of Tiger Woods or Britney Spears or Oprah but do you ‘know’ them? Do you have a relationship with any of them? Do they text you or keep you in their loop?
This entry from Desmond’s journal attests to the reality of the relationship he had with his Lord.
If your life abruptly ended today or in ten days time, what hope would your family and friends have? Would they be able to say for sure you were in Heaven? Or would they only ‘hope’ you landed there?
The bottom line is – Desmond was ready to go. Are you?
151,000+ die every day. Not every one goes to Heaven. The other place is Hell. That’s where those who don’t trust Christ as their Saviour before they die end up. There are no re-runs or second-chances after death. There is no forgiveness of sins after this life.
You read about Desmond’s second last sermon. But what was his last sermon? His last sermon was his death. There is no stronger sermon than the reality of death. It’s a wake-up call for those of us who are living.
It was awesome to know that when Desmond’s life ended – it ended clean. How would your’s end? When his room was emptied out, there was no trash or secret stash of hidden things for secret enjoyment. No drugs. No secret pieces of paper. No questionable receipts. No dirty movies. No empty beer bottles. And no questionable websites in his computer history as far back as could be checked.
Will you think about your life, your relationship with Christ and your eternity? Will you allow Desmond’s last sermon to get through to you?
When flowers cover your gravesite where will you be?
Wherever you will be, you will be forever.
Will you receive Desmond's Saviour?
The Bible says:
"Yet to all who received HIM, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."
A Tribute To A Best Friend
There used to be a group of Seven
But now One is gone to heaven
Desmond Prins was called Home
By His Lord who is on the Throne
Were thankful for the time we well spent
The beach, the volleyball, the camping trips
The fuseball and the conferences
Des we'll miss you sleeping in the tent
I miss you Des so very much
Your smile there to cheer me up
But I know your happy where you are
Sitting there above the stars
Why was he taken so very fast
We will always have this question to ask
but God controls each breath we take
And wants Des home to stay
Des I cannot wait until the day
I get to see your face again
Until then on earth I will wait
And miss you more and more each day