Read the whole story of Set Apart: The Remarkable Life of Tomislav:
Half of Tomislav’s body was lifeless—had been for decades—as I conducted this interview. And yet, his face and persona were alive, joyful, optimistic, and full of a lively humor. His life story captured me, not just because of all the incredible events packed into one story, but because of his own perspective as he reflected on them. “I did not despair, it did not destroy me, God had a special purpose for me, God provided in many ways…”
His interpretative lens of life events seemed to be one of promise and hope: God is with us in our sufferings and our joys. He is our great provider, even when there is no humanitarian aid. His calling often manifests differently then we think it might—perhaps rising from the ashes of our former plans and dreams.
I had hoped to go back for another interview with Tomislav. After all, I did not get to hear about his experience in the horrific war in the 90’s. After listening and reflecting on his first interview, I had many follow-up questions.
But this second interview was not to be. Tomislav died in mid-June from a condition related to the effects of his paraplegia. When my friend D., who had translated for me, gently told me the news during lunch one day, I froze mid-bite. His story had become so real to me—what about all my questions?
Certainly, there is a sense of wonder and mystery when I think about Tomislav enjoying his new body in the presence of Jesus whom he faithfully served for so many years. And yet, death always seems to catch me off guard, surprising me with its suddenness, its finality for this life. I think of his wife, who for decades tirelessly took care of him and is now left a little dazed by the sudden change in her life. “He is finished,” she said to a friend at the funeral. “”He was faithful until the end.”
I wish to honor this man who faced incredible challenges, death, and suffering in his life—and yet could continued to say that God is good.
Thank you, Tomislav, for sharing your rich life with me and my readers. I am inspired and honored to have written a small piece of your story.
*Name has been changed