The death of a Christian astronaut
Steve described Rick as a quiet, unassuming man who was, however, very vocal about his faith. He said Rick did not miss an opportunity to give glory to God
I had the privilege of attending a Steve Green concert on the night of Feb.1, just 12 hours after the loss of Columbia and her crew of seven. What a surprise to learn that Steve Green (a Christian artist) was a close friend of Rick Husband’s, the astronaut who was selected to be captain for this mission. Their friendship began a number of years ago when Rick and his wife stood in line to meet Steve after a concert in Houston. As Rick told Steve how much he enjoyed his music, Rick’s wife whispered to Steve that Rick was an astronaut. Steve said he (Steve) made a big deal about that and soon the people were lined up to ask Rick for an autograph instead of Steve! Thus, their friendship began.
Steve was in attendance for Rick’s first shuttle launch several years ago and was also in attendance for this launch. He sang both times at pre-launch receptions. He said the reception for the Columbia launch was very Christ-honoring, and that there were many unbelievers in attendance. Steve described Rick as a quiet, unassuming man who was, however, very vocal about his faith. He said Rick did not miss an opportunity to give glory to God and mentioned that when Mission Control said it was a beautiful day for a launch, Rick responded with, "The Lord has given us a perfect day!" A suit technician shared the following story with Steve. He said that after the astronauts suit up they walk down a hallway and then open a door to "face the press!" Rick stopped the crew before they opened the door and said he wanted to pray for them. Later the technicians talked about this and one said that in all his years he had never heard of a captain praying for and with his crew.
The spouses of the crew each get to pick a song for them to wake up to one of the mornings they’re in space. Rick’s wife selected "God of Wonders" by Steve Green. Steve played a tape for us of Rick communicating with Mission Control after the song was played. The conversation went something like this: Mission Control – "Good morning. That song was for Rick. It was ‘God of Wonders’ by Steve Green." Rick – "Good morning. Thank you. We can really appreciate the lyrics of that song up here. We look out the window and see that God truly is a God of wonders!" (Unfortunately, we probably won’t hear that one on the news.) Steve also shared part of an e-mail he received from Rick, transmitted from outer space! Did you know that was possible? I didn’t! Anyway, Rick wrote about how overwhelming it was to see God’s vast creation from space. He said he had never cried while exercising before, but peddling on the bike and looking out the window at God’s incredible creation brought tears to his eyes.
Steve also shared that he had been in Texas for a concert about a week before coming here. While there, Steve and his "crew" spent the day with Rick’s wife, Evelyn, and their two children and also Mike Anderson’s family. Mike was also aboard Columbia. During the concert that evening, Steve had the two women stand and he asked the audience to pray with him for these women while their husbands were in space. It was encouraging to hear Steve say that there were at least three astronauts (including Rick and Mike) aboard the Columbia who were believers in Jesus.
It was a moving concert and a welcome surprise to learn all these things. What a blessing to know that at least three of these astronauts loved Jesus! Steve did not name the third person or mention if there was a family left behind. But two of the families, at least, will be relying on God to carry them through this and will have opportunity to share God’s love with families/friends of the other astronauts. Steve mentioned that before President Bush talked to the families, they had formed a circle and were praying.
Steve was even able to share with us pictures of Rick at different stages of his life, his career and family. He and Rick’s wife had put this together to be set to one of Steve’s songs. They had done it awhile back for some special event. Steve had it with him and shared it with us. He also gave us all a challenge from Rick’s life. He said that astronauts lead extremely busy lives, and he (Steve) had been impressed with Rick’s commitment to discipling his two children. Steve asked us to think about if our lives were to end tomorrow and there would be no more opportunity for us to disciple our kids. Would we be happy with what we had done, or would we have regrets?
I’m guessing, from the pictures Steve showed, that Rick’s son was around 5 years old and his daughter 10. I may be off, but that gives you an idea. They certainly are not close to adulthood. Rick made 34 devotionals, by video, before he left on the Columbia. There were 17 for his daughter and 17 for his son, one for each day he was to be gone. So each day his daughter and son had their own "devotion with Dad" by video. What treasures they will be to his children! Thank you, God, for leading Rick to do that!
Well, I think I’ve given you every bit of information Steve gave us. It was certainly an encouragement and comfort to hear these things. I wanted to pass it on to bless others and to help you know how to pray for these families in the days ahead. God IS at work in His world! To Him belongs all glory! Thanks for reading. Feel free to pass this along to others.
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