The past three days, I have tried without success to process the loss that I, my friends and family, my church, and my university are currently suffering. But as I sit in the airport waiting for a plane to take me to Lynchburg, I realize this is the first time since Sunday that I’ve had a spare moment to turn my grieving into words.
Jonny Gregoire has gone to be with The Lord, and I still cannot believe that I’m saying it. It is rare to have a friend that you walk with through youth group, high school, and on into college, much less a whole group of friends. So many camping trips, hikes, sleepovers, dinners at Gio’s, fourth meals at Taco Bell, youth group events, missions trips, Friday night wiffleball games at Rowley stadium, jam sessions, trips to Guitar Center and Sun Sun’s, daily events at Addie Way, leading worship alongside him, organizing bible studies, and most importantly, countless conversations and prayers with a coffee in one hand, and God’s Word in the other. What a privilege it was to know this man in such an intimate way. So many memories that I hope to review and celebrate in the coming weeks.
The beauty of knowing Jonny as a kid and as a man is that we’ve had the opportunity to see Jesus absolutely transform his life. Many of my earlier memories with Jonny include inside jokes, goofing around, playing pranks, and focusing on what made life fun. But for the past few years, Jonny turned that same passion, vigor, and impulse toward a very different existential purpose: furthering The Gospel.
Jonny had something called tenacious faith, and it was what set him apart in his walk with Jesus Christ. When God got a hold of him in college, EVERYTHING became about Jesus. He shared The Gospel with anyone and everyone who would listen, often times putting his own life on hold to share this good news. He was an exemplary Christ follower, and an ambitious vessel for this message: that Jesus loves you, died for you, and rose from the dead so that through faith in Him, you would not fear death, but rather rejoice in the hope of new, eternal life.
So if you’re ever wondering if 21 years was enough time, just look at how Jonny spent it.