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Five Years … But Who’s Counting!

 

 

Not unlike other years, this August and especially this week has been difficult.  Yes, it has been five years since Joshua passed away but time is pretty meaningless when we lose someone significant in our lives.  Hours at times feel like days, feels like months, feels like years and vice versa.

I’m sure you can all relate to some degree. But we’re still here and God continues to bless the foundation by furthering Joshua’s creative work and acts of mercy through The Joshua Casteel House.  His book, ‘Letters From Abu Ghraib’  Second Edition is out and we’re in the process of trying to promote it.  The first event will be at the Univ. of Chicago on October 25th with Jim Forest as main speaker.  How fortunate we were that he planned a trip to the States and was available and willing to speak at our event.  The second promotional event will be the weekend of Oct. 27th at the Joshua Casteel House in Alliance, Ohio.  I will fly to both events. Some of his other work is being organized to hopefully create a teaching manual of sorts to use on the college level and potentially High School or alongside his other productions. His play ‘Returns, The Opera’ has been completed and is in the final stages of production in the UK and is getting a very positive response from the artistic community.  We’re also discussing the possibility of taking the play Returns, as is, on tour again as well as working more closely with Catholic Peace Fellowship, a great organization that Joshua worked with as well.  And finally we should also have the official website up and running by late September.  Be sure to check it out still at joshuacasteel.com.

So all of this is definitely enough to keep me busy and at times overwhelmed.  But, knowing that I needed some additional encouragement , especially this week, I will share one other significant gift that God gave to me and ultimately I believe to the Foundation and all of you.  It is living proof of how God revealed a part of His plan for Joshua and now the JC Foundation right prior to his deployment to Iraq.  It shows us clearly that God’s hand has been directing and guiding Joshua from the beginning and still is.  This encouragement came by way of a letter from one of Joshua’s friends from a church he attended while in Monterrey, CA for language school while in the military.  The letter is quite self explanatory and I believe gives us reason to continue to work hard to carry on what God started through Joshua’s writing and life so we can experience together what He has planned, which I’m trusting will be far and beyond what we might think or expect.  While this letter sat in an e-mail account (which Rebekah set up for the foundation about a year ago) for nine months before either of us saw it, I have a feeling the timing was also exactly as it should be.  PLEASE READ IT!!  I think you’ll be blessed and encouraged, as were we.

Blessings on us all,

Kristi

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My name is XXXX, and I attended church with Joshua in Monterey CA. Everything I wrote in the accidentally sent email was true. On Joshua’s last Sunday at our church, he seemed troubled. As we gathered as a faith family to pray for him, I felt this urgent / oppressive need to tell Joshua that his writing would be important. More important than he could ever know. That he had to write and find time to write.
I didn’t know Joshua very well, but we had a lot of mutual friends and saw each other at church functions and gatherings once or twice a week. Although our Real Life group was tight knit, our schedules didn’t often allow us to hang out together all the time.
That’s how I knew without a doubt the message I was to deliver to Joshua was from God because I could never have come up with that ex nihilo. That was the first time God “spoke” something to me and it was the first time I was given a message to give to someone else. And it hasn’t happened since.
Despite feeling like I could be misconstrued as a person who is out of her mind (!!!), I quietly and dutifully delivered the message as we gathered in the hallway to give Joshua hugs and pats on the back. He received it warmly, and I think by the wetness in his eyes, the deep swallow, and his resolute nod that the message God delivered through me was merely a confirmation of something already in him that he already knew.
I stored that memory away, deep, and wrote if off as a practice of obedience… until one day, maybe five years later, when I saw Joshua on tv. It must have been CNN, and again, it could only be divine that I happened to be flipping through the channels at just the right time. I felt like it was a little nudge from God to me. God saying something akin to, “Look what I’m doing. Be awed.”
Ten years later…
This morning, I was sitting in my van, desperately trying to finish up a Bible study that should have been done days ago. The question in my workbook inquired if I had ever “heard” God speak and if I had told others. I instantly remembered the night, now 15 years ago, that God had me tell Joshua to write. I thought, “Let me Google him because I’m sure he’s written a book that’s going to be a movie by now…”
Wikipedia is where I landed, with his date of birth and death right up top. My mind reeled as I raced to read what had happened. That was not what I had expected God to do through Joshua. That is not how I thought Joshua’s writing was going to be used. Even now, hours later, I’m still processing, but mediating on “to God be the glory”. As I relayed the bits of Joshua’s story to the women in my Bible study, one of them suggested I write to Joshua’s mother to tell her the anecdote about the message I got to deliver. I don’t know if that will be helpful or what… but again, in obedience, I will. I did. Hello.
To Joshua’s family and friends, I’m so sorry for this unimaginable loss. I hope you are still finding his memory alive and are comforted by how God is STILL using Joshua’s life to further His kingdom. It’s funny; I’ve been at a crossroads, personally, and had only yesterday decided to finish my B.A. in religion so that I could work full-time in ministry (primarily as a writer). Just as God had nudged me all those years ago to deliver a message to Joshua, I feel that God is now using Joshua to nudge me and affirm His work in me. Thank you for your continued work toward his cause.
With highest regards and deepest sympathies,

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How can you help?

As you think of Joshua today I hope you will also consider ways that you can continue to help us “fight against evil and pray for healing.”  God knows it’s all around us throughout the world and we need healing like never before…at least in our lifetimes!  (I’ve listed a few practical ways you can become involved below just to give your mind a jumpstart)

* volunteer to host a short book promotional event for his recently published 2nd edition ‘Letters From Abu Ghraib’.  (You’ll receive a personal copy and helpful guidelines on how to organize a simple event)

* Spread the word about his book on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever your favorite mode of internet communication is.  We can forward you a picture of the book and brief description if you’d like.

* Pray for the success and expansion of ‘Returns, the Opera’ debuting in Yorkshire, England in Sept. 2018 and potentially in Northern England, Denmark, and eventually in the U.S.  Funding is a huge project for its expansion.  Initially we hope to break even as it is not at this point a ‘commercial’ project.  James Cave has done all the fundraising in England to produce the first production at the York Minster but we are hoping to help him in that effort in order to expand its audience and bring it to the U.S.  The hope is that it will eventually become self supporting but that is not the case yet.

* Volunteer to help the foundation in fundraising efforts for the book promotional events and for the Opera and Play.  We will also be looking for venues to take the original play Returns on the road. This will take some expertise in putting together an acting troupe that will be able to travel to different locations and is a big endeavor though not out of reach.  Pray for the right people and the funds to make it happen.  If you have any experience or knowledge in fundraising/grant writing etc. we would love to hear from you and use your expertise.

* In addition we are working to get our new website up and running in September which also requires a significant investment.

* Donate towards any or all of these projects as all of them require a significant investment to continue to get Joshua’s work and message out there.   (With every donation of $25 or more we’ll send you a copy of the new edition ‘Letters From Abu Ghraib)

LASTLY…

If anyone has good resource material for the website please consider sending it to us on an ongoing basis… writing of Joshua’s, photos of him with or without you,  recorded talks that he has given, e-mails or letters that reveal his heart and passions or any content that you believe may be of interest on the site.  This might include:   Resource material on the topics surrounding, non-violence, issues of justice and reconciliation, effects of war on individual soldiers, countries and society as a whole, Peacemaking efforts, etc.

Some of you ‘writer and/or professors friends’ of his we know have excellent thoughts on these subjects and we would love receive submissions from you.  This also goes for some of Joshua’s artistic friends.  We’ve received some art already and will attempt to use this on the site with your permission but we would like to see as much creativity as we can in getting out his message of love and mercy championing over violence and war.  And we would also love to receive music or beautiful photography from those of you whose gifts reside there.

As you all know Joshua was an artist at heart and loves all forms of expression to speak to the world and to simply bring joy!  So please, jump in and join us with the offering of your gifts.  Don’t be surprised if you feel a nudge from him.

We’ll look forward to hearing from many of you and sharing in this exciting journey that God has us all on, looking expectantly for Him to do above and beyond all that we can think or imagine in the years to come.

August 28, 2017 - 4:24 PM

Karla Goettel - Hi, Kristi. I think of you often and hope your work inspires and continues to heal you. I know I feel inspired by Joshua often. Instead of retiring I have become the vice chair and next year the chair of the board at Horizons. We work hard to help seniors with Meals on Wheels, child nutrition during the summers, mental and financial counseling, Neighborhood Transit System that provides rides to work for people without transportation and to all the homeless children in the area and the Survivors Program, which provides support to family, friends and witnesses to homicide. I applaud all your efforts and am curious about “Returns, the Opera.” I would love to know more about it and to see if I could promote this work with the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre.
I send my love to you!
Karla

September 25, 2017 - 3:26 PM

Elle Oh - Hi – I have something I wanted to email to the family. Before Joshua passed away, I was making collecting videos from his peers at Middlebury. I only have two videos, but they were meant to cheer him up while he was receiving treatment. I’d love to send them over if you can send me your email address.

Thank you!

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