Masthead header
Joshua Casteel (In Memory) bio picture
  • "If I am bound to the belief that God is in control of the cosmos, and miracles can and do happen, then there is no 'hypothetical situation' wherein God's ability to perform miracles through the faithful actions of the merciful ceases to be a possibility."

    Joshua's above words continue to resonate with us, his family, friends and acquaintances seeking to live out that same belief. Though he is no longer with us bodily, we strive to faithfully remember and testify to Joshua's witness among us, through the establishment of The Joshua Casteel Foundation and other initiatives on which we will continue to provide update through this website. Thank you for joining us.

    "The just man, though he die early, shall be at rest." (Wisdom 4:7)

    Joshua was diagnosed in early November 2011 with stage IV lung cancer (adenocarcinoma), which ultimately took his life on August 25, 2012 at the age of 32. The many of us who survive and love him will continue to pursue the heavenly justice to which Joshua (in life, and now in death) testified.


We wanted to make a slight revision to our Faith In Action project (please read the preceding post) in memory of Joshua during this month of August. We asked that you would consider one act of kindness and compassion or acts promoting peace and justice in your sphere of influence to help continue carrying on the ideals and life that Joshua lived and believed in so strongly. We suggested doing this on or around August 25th, the day that the Lord took him home, and then let us know by posting on this site directly or by sending an e-mail to Rebekah to post of what those actions might be and any responses you might receive, if appropriate, as an encouragement to all who keep up with Joshua’s site and support his foundation.

We would like to suggest, however, that you not wait until Aug. 25th to carry this out or to notify us but rather use the entire month of August to do so and let us know all throughout the month what you have chosen to do or what you plan to do. We will post all of the responses we get on a weekly basis with an example from Joshua’s life as well. Also please feel free to add your own thoughts and commentary. We have already received some e-mails and will be posting the first week’s responses at the end of this week. And please let us know if you would prefer that your name/names not be posted. Otherwise we will share them along with your post and enjoy hearing from the vast community of friends that surrounded Joshua throughout life and his trial.

To all of Joshua’s and our ‘pastor friends’ or those in charge of or directing larger groups of people, we would encourage you to pass along the idea or website to your people in order to help increase the ‘possibility for good’ taking place.

Enjoy reaching out, caring, and loving those around you or doing what you can to promote greater peace and justice in our world. We know that you will be blessed as “it is in giving that we receive”. We look forward to hearing from you.

August 6, 2013 - 9:57 AM

Gail Coleman - As an associate member of Veterans For Peace, I attended Joshua’s memorial service and was very touched. Our chapter is planning a week of events September 15-21, in honor of the International Day of Peace-we call it Peace Week. It can be found at our home page,

Any act of kindness or way that we can spread peace to our brothers and sisters here, and around the world, honors his memory.

Faith in Action: In Memory of Joshua

On August 25, 2012 Joshua passed from this world to the next after a life filled with purposeful actions to help make this world a better place.  It is not unusual or unexpected that he took the confirmation name of James (“faith without works is dead” James 2:17) indicating his great desire to live a life that revealed his faith in acts of love and compassion while working towards peace and justice in the world.  So the board of the Joshua Casteel Foundation decided that there would be no better way to honor Joshua than to appeal to those of you who loved and supported him and now also support his foundation to commit yourselves to carrying out at least one act of love and compassion or actions that will promote peace or justice in your world or sphere of influence on or around August 25th.  It can be a small gesture towards a friend, co-worker, or stranger or a more visibly grand action that may affect many. All actions done from a heart of good will are powerful and we never know the potential impact we may have.

As a wonderful illustration of the kind of action we’re talking about we want to share an example from Tim Roth, one Joshua’s closest friends and a board member of the Foundation.

There is a young man working at a local gas station who recently moved to America with his wife and children from Egypt. He is a Muslim who has a limited grasp of English and who is struggling to enter our society. Working behind the counter of a gas station mart is a thankless job that makes him vulnerable to verbal abuse because of his nationality and religion. I decided to do a small act of kindness by learning how to say “how are you?” in Arabic. Although my pronunciation was poor, he understood me and was touched. He simply replied by saying “Thank you for learning Arabic.” Who knows if this meant much to him and he has already forgotten about it or if it is something that impacted him in some way and that he will remember the rest of his life. I just know that in that moment a bridge had been crossed that cut across all barriers and a brotherly connection had been made.

We are also asking that (if appropriate) you post a small description of your personal choice of action and any responses or results that you might be aware of as either a comment on this post or send an email to Rebekah at, giving her permission to post the action on the foundation site as an encouragement to others.  You can use or name or be anonymous, but we want to know!

Our goal is to receive at least 25 responses by the 25th of August.  We’re expecting many more to be done as we reflect on the hundreds of acts of kindness that were poured out on Joshua and our family during his illness.  We are sure that he will be rejoicing in heaven and cheering you on as each act is carried out.

We will also be planting a tree in Joshua’s memory in Kristi’s yard to remind us of the fruitful life he lived while on earth as well as the new life he continues to live in heaven.  And we thank you in advance for what we know will be just a part of the redemption God promises to bring out of death and a life well lived.

God bless you all as you carry on the call to “love one another”.


August 2, 2013 - 3:38 PM

DM - I love the idea! Thanks for challenging all of us to think a little more intentionally about doing love and good works. I will give it some thought and let you know what I(we) come up with in honor of Joshua

August 25, 2013 - 11:15 AM

Shawn T. Storer - I recently read a news article that featured the words of a young man who was a former Marine and was haunted by what he had done while deployed to Afghanistan. The young man did not believe there was any possibility of forgiveness or redemption for him. I have begun writing a letter to that young man.

Reflections and Updates

It’s very hard to believe that it has been almost two months since Rebekah, Naomi, and I attended the dedication of the Joshua Casteel House in Alliance, Ohio and then myself the IVAW fundraiser in Chicago for the Joshua Casteel Foundation. I intended on writing this reflection of just what wonderful events they both were soon after we returned, but I have entered into a struggle I wasn’t prepared for. If you don’t mind I will share more personally before talking about the events themselves.

Both events coincided with the period of time last year in which things got very difficult in Joshua’s journey, including going from his cancer’s drastic reduction to its re-mutation and spreading, to the decisions to begin chemotherapy and eventually leave for New York for the clinical trial. Also as you all may remember as Joshua’s cancer spread he entered back into the realm of intense pain. He also underwent surgery to fuse bone so that he could have radiation which was an experience of suffering all of its own, as there was a grave mistake in the amount of medicine they gave him. And New York was exceedingly difficult in every way from beginning to end.

What I had not expected nor prepared for was the emotional toll just coming into this season one year later would have on me. Just as I felt like I was making some progress in the grieving process, I found myself re-living last summer, flooded by painful memories and experiencing the anxiety and sadness as if I were going through it all over again. I am functioning during the day pretty well, by the grace of God, but as usual, night time has continued to be my time of grieving, only this present period seems to be even more difficult than it has been up to this point.  Consequently my sleep patterns have plummeted back down to the low point of getting very erratic, non-restful sleep.

My ability to concentrate and focus have not been good at all amidst this time of emotional turmoil and the several times I have intended to write this reflection and update I haven’t been able to focus long enough to get past the first few sentences. Hence, two months have come and gone. Tonight I determined to make some headway one way or the other. So I apologize for the gap in time to hear about these two important events as well as the delay in receiving the thank you’s for all the donations we received. Even though I was able to write many of those they have had to wait to be sent out until this was written as I referred you to the site to read our ‘update’ about the events and what is happening within the foundation. We so want to let you know and see what it is you have given to and become a part of. In a separate post we will upload some pictures and hope that they will also give you a glimpse of the Joshua Casteel House and its ministry as well as IVAW, a group that is working tirelessly to help returning veterans affected by the war.

But in no way does the delay in writing this reflection about the two events represent our gratitude and excitement about the actual experiences, quite the contrary. Both were incredibly uplifting as we were able to meet the wonderful people involved, experience their hospitality and graciousness as well as witness their genuine commitment to what they feel called to do.

On May 18th at the Joshua Casteel House we took part in a Byzantine Mass, which Joshua would have loved. There was even some Arabic included in parts of it. The rituals and symbolism were beautiful. We sang, we shared, and we ate together. Every part was lovingly prepared by those people who are committed to this ministry.

We had the opportunity to hear from Martha Hennessy (granddaughter of Dorothy Day) who traveled from New York to participate in the dedication.  Then we watched an interview given by an Irish reporter/activist about Joshua’s part in some very significant actions taken in Ireland and beyond positively affecting the peace movement internationally, but especially in Ireland. We learned things about Joshua that we never knew and saw that his influence was even more far reaching than we knew about and probably more than he even knew. He didn’t talk about his many trips and speeches at length with us in part because of his busy life but also because Joshua didn’t flaunt his achievements. In contrast he just went about doing what he felt called to do.  You can watch the interview here:

It was wonderful to see the house and its ministry firsthand and to see glimpses of him and his passions throughout the house. We spent the entire day with the group and upon leaving remarked how ‘at home’ we felt there, especially with the people. Later a tree was planted in his honor in the garden. I am so thankful all three of us were able to be there and feel like we became part of the family of the Joshua Casteel House. We were able to present them with the plaque with all of the donors listed, along with the donation from the Joshua Casteel Foundation.

The Catholic Worker team is currently looking for a house to use for the staff and for those who may have short term needs. They will continue to serve meals and reach out to the community with the love of Christ and I’m confident and so thankful that our contributions, prayers, and help will have a far reaching effect as they minister to those in need.

The following weekend I spent in Chicago attending an IVAW (Iraq Veterans Agains the War) fundraising event in downtown Chicago. Chad Nicholson, friend and fellow board member for the Joshua Casteel Foundation, attended with me, along with his wife and sisters. It was great to have them there with me. Both Chad and I spoke at the event.

IVAW partnered with the EMPACT series (Everyone’s music politics art and community throwdown) and brought in bands for a night of fun, alongside the important reasons we were all there, to bring to light important issues relating to veterans. In our case that meant talking about the burn pits that were used in Iraq and Afghanistan, raising awareness to the issue and report on current progress in doing away with them. The bands were all great (Chad and family stayed late to hear them all while us moms went home to bed) but we were very thankful that they would choose to make it a fundraiser for our foundation. Again, it was a privilege to meet the very dedicated people who work so hard for what they believe in and who have the courage to take a stand that may not be popular or readily accepted by others.

Another event that took place in May was the University of Iowa 2013 New Play Festival, where writers from the Iowa Playwright’s Workshop present their works. As most of you know, Joshua graduated with his MA in  Playwrighting and also Non-Fiction from the writer’s workshop at the University of Iowa. It was a great honor that they named this year’s reading series in honor of Joshua and he was featured in the festival programs. I attended one of the reading sessions and also one of the featured plays with Naomi and her husband, Travis.  Both were excellent and while being in Joshua’s former environment (he loved Iowa City)was difficult in some ways of course, it was also comforting how at home I felt among the writers and actors, especially in the ‘reading room’ where we had been many times to hear Joshua’s readings.

May was an overwhelming month for sure. One of gratitude for all the honors bestowed on Joshua and in his memory, but also sadness knowing that all the reminders were of a life so well lived with a passion to see real change in the world and of a person so well loved who is no longer with us working to bring about that change. But that is why the Joshua Casteel Foundation exists, to continue on with the passions he lived out of and that we desire as well to see come to fruition. Our hope is to carry on a message of love and reconciliation rather than violence and revenge, encourage justice and truth where injustice and lack of truth or lies prevail, and to give aid where there is none given.  We desire to keep his light shining by letting our own lights shine along with his.

Foundation Updates:

We have now met as a board several times via ‘google hangout’ and are very close to finalizing our mission/vision statements as well as our defining principles and goals. We will be posting them just as soon as they are completed.  This will give you a much clearer vision of the foundation and help you see the directions we are going as well as determining what projects you may desire to take part in.  Chad Nicholson, our resident practicing lawyer, is moving ahead on getting our 501(c)3 non-profit status and we are also building an official website which will make our foundation much more visible and accessible.

We are excited to announce that Travis Thompson, Naomi’s husband, is joining the foundation board.  Travis was more than a brother-in-law to Joshua, he was a confidant as well as a kindred spirit when it comes to literature, writing, and theology.  They had many good conversations and I am confident he will bring much to the table as a board member.  Travis will be taking the place of Mia Alvarado to allow her to focus on a book she is writing using many of Joshua’s writings which is an enormous and complicated task! We’re anticipating this project greatly and will keep you posted on the progress.

Catholic Peace Ministries in Des Moines is planning an annual lecture series entitled ‘The Joshua Casteel Series’ where they will bring in featured speakers to talk on topics related to peace and non-violence, justice and reconciliation. It will be slated for September each year. We are so looking forward to that and hope to partner with them to help in whatever ways we can. It will begin either this September or September 2014 depending on availability of their first chosen speaker. We’ll let you know as soon as we know for sure.

Coming up we will be announcing a project we hope will inspire everyone to promote love, peace and justice in their own communities so look for our announcement within the next month! Thank you for staying on this journey with us – Board of the Joshua Casteel Foundation

Need for Graphic/Web Designer

Although still in the beginning stages of starting The Joshua Casteel Foundation, we know we need to hire a graphic/web designer to help us with (1) branding and logo, and (2) building the website for the foundation. If you or someone you know is interested in discussing this potential work, please contact Rebekah Latchis at

We will be updating this site again soon with details of the events of the past few months and we are so looking forward to continuing Joshua’s ministry!