By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
BELTSVILLE, Md.—First Church, Beltsville, had a video game tournament to honor the memory of one of their young adults and to encourage others to be bold for Jesus.
Troy Terawaki, a member of First Church, Beltsville, was a young man who glorified God—in the midst of his losing battle with cancer. Terawaki had been active at the church since he was in the 7th grade and he continued attending the college and career class when he became ill. In 2006, while on a student exchange program in Japan, the young man had intense pressure in his eye and flew to Hawaii for diagnosis. He discovered he had cancer of the nasal cavity and was transferred to Washington’s Walter Reed Medical Center for chemotherapy and radiation. Though he had a brief remission, he died April 3, 2009, just two months shy of his 20th birthday.
“He carried himself with an exceptional level of faith and courage, and not only held tight to his faith during his ‘journey,’ but used his experiences as a vehicle to share his faith in God with others,” FBC youth director Robbie Laing said. Those “others” included doctors, nurses and fellow patients at Walter Reed and at Tripler Hospital in Honolulu.
Lang said when he visited Terawaki, the young patient took Lang around the hospital to visit, pray with and encourage other patients.
“We met this one girl named Hannah that Troy really wanted me to come talk to. Troy had been praying with her and trying to encourage her, and had asked me to help him find some scriptures for her. I remember how cool it was to get a chance to visit and pray with her, and how important it was to Troy that we meet her that day,” Lang remembered.
To honor the young man’s memory, FBC Beltsville youth and college and career ministries hosted a video game tournament and worship rally on June 5, 2010, Terawaki’s 21st birthday.
Laing said Terawaki loved playing video games and even in the hospital would always be in the game room if he was able. The youth leader thought a tournament in Terawaki honor, along with a worship service, honoring God and sharing Terawaki’s story with others would be an appropriate memorial. Laing sent letters out to church members, family, friends and other church youth and young adult groups, inviting them to come.
“It was truly phenomenal,” Laing said. The youth played video games, ate food and enjoyed the evening. One youth won a new Xbox 360, donated by a church member who was very close to Troy.
The worship rally was led by “The TNL praise band,” a Waldorf-based music group. Following Bible readings, teens listened to Troy’s favorite music including the Casting Crown’s song, “Who am I.” Laing spoke of people who demonstrated extraordinary faith throughout their lives including Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr. and Columbine martyrs Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott. Laing turned off the lights and designated youth shined flashlights up to the ceiling to represent each life and how God used them as lights in the darkness. Then he told about Terawaki.
Laing said the young man acknowledged his struggle.”I don’t like the treatments and I don’t like sickness,” Terawaki told Laing.
“But Troy stood firm on his faith and never doubted,” Laing said. “I asked him on more than one occasion, ‘Dude, are you mad at God?’ and he said, ‘No, God put me here for a reason and gave me opportunities I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t in this situation. And you know what? I plan on hanging around as long as I need to.’ If he ever questioned God, you’d never know it.”
Marvin and Cindy Terawaki, Troy’s parents, were very supportive and encouraging regarding the tournament. Laing said that at the end of the evening, the couple hugged him and said that they thought Troy would have enjoyed the event. Laing is already planning the 2011 annual “Troy Terawaki Video Game Tournament and Worship Rally.”