By Stan Adams
A young gospel preacher passed away. He never occupied the pulpit and never received a salary. Sean Teagarden was, however, a very special evangelist.
I have been asked by the family to write this tribute to this brave young champion of faith, and I am honored to relate his story to you.
Sean was an average young person. He was a delight to his parents, Vernon and Evenly. He was full of life and had a keen wit and sense of humor. He enjoyed life! He received his share of cuts and bruises and discipline, throughout his life. Sean was blessed to be born into a close family. He was loved and knew it from an early age. Mom and Dad were always able to be found. In a society where more and more women are pursuing “fulfilling careers,” the Teagarden’s value the importance of Evelyn being a “keeper at home.” They could have more “things,” if she worked outside of the home, but the tremendous family life they enjoy, would suffer greatly. We would all do well to learn from them. A stable home life is vital to our children.
At the age of 15, Sean was a healthy young man, or so it appeared. One day he came home from wrestling practice and complained of pain in his back. This was pursued and treated. A few weeks later, the pain had gone to his legs and he returned to the doctor for further examination. It was discovered that Sean had a large tumor. Later the biopsy revealed that Sean had a very rare form of cancer,
Rabdo-Myo-Sarcoma. There have been only 50 cases of it in the entire U.S. They were told the cure rate was 5 per-cent. His cancer was Stage 4, which is rather advanced. Sean wanted to live! He told his parents he was ready to fight his cancer. Over the next nine months he received over 5,000 rads of radiation (28 treatments), as well as chemotherapy. The cancer was arrested from the bone marrow, and the outlook seemed bright. Sean enjoyed his 16th birthday party, and the prognosis seemed good. Almost overnight, the cancer reappeared! It had developed a resistance to the chemotherapy and had spread throughout Sean’s body. The doctor gave him a month to live. He faced the news bravely, when told. The chemotherapy was resumed, but was in-effective. He asked his parents if he could go home to die. You see, this boy loved home and family! He was brought home and in just a few days he breathed his last breath on earth and truly went home.
I sat with the family until 10:00 a.m. Friday morning. I listened and observed the last hours of this young man’s struggle. I sat in admiration of the family who cared so much. I listened to Sean recall events of his life, all of which were happy. I heard him gasp and labor for every breath, and finally watched and helped, as his body was removed from his room. I was touched by his bravery and by the family’s strength. Sean preached a sermon to us that needs to be heard by all. Here are some lessons he taught us.
The uncertainty of life! (Jas. 4:13,14 — “Ye know not what shall be on the morrow. . . What is your life, but a vapor, that appears for a short time and then vanishes.”)
He only lived 16 years, but they were rich, pure, wonderful and happy years. I know people who would love to have 16 happy years to remember, and they are much older than 16.
Each one of us lives life one breath at a time, and we are just one heartbeat away from death at all times. Sean knew this, do you? If you are a young person reading this, are you a Christian? If not why not?
Life is worth the pain and struggle. (Job) Sean endured tremendous humiliation and pain. He suffered a great deal. He did so with a pleasant spirit, healthy outlook, and even a sense of humor! His attitude was positive. Even though he knew death was close, he fought to live, to the very end.
When you think you have it tough think of people like Sean. He never felt sorry for himself, but did feel for those who cared for him. He seemed to try to protect them from hurt, and bravely endured many things, silently, so he would not alarm his parents and sisters. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us the devil will throw everything he can at us to get us to break. He did not win with Sean!
Priorities are important! (Matt. 6:33 — “Seek ye first the kingdom. . . “). Sean had his priorities settled. He was a Christian, and was prepared to go be with the Lord. He put God first, as he had been trained to do by his parents. He did not put sports ahead of church services! He did not let anything come in the way of his service to God. In his Bible he had written by Psalm 100, “Walk with him here, talk with him there.”
In an age when many young people are carried away with being popular and pursuing their selfish interests, it is time for all to reflect on what is truly important. Sean never got his driver’s license. He received a truck and had it parked outside his window, but he knew it was only an item. He would have gladly given it away for another day of life. He realized it doesn’t matter if you are popular with the world, if it means hurting God. He realized that being good at sports, really doesn’t matter, when it comes to life and death! What really matters, is are you a Christian?
On this earth, family closeness and love are vital! (Eph. 6:1,2 — “Children, obey your parents . . . for this is right, honor your father and mother.”)
We should not be surprised at the way Sean handled death! He was prepared by godly parents to handle life and be prepared for death! Parents, are you preparing your child to face the challenges of life, with Christ? When the time comes for your child to walk the “valley of the shadow of death,” will Christ be there to comfort him? Are you more interested in how much money he makes and where he goes to school, and how popular he is, than you are in the spiritual destiny? Mothers, are you out pursuing a career to “fulfill yourself” and sacrificing your children to do so? Fathers, do you spend time with your children doing family things?
When it came time for Sean to die, he wanted to go home. He was tired and weary of hospitals. He wanted his family around him. He loved them and cared for them and it was mutual. He wanted mom and dad, or sister. How close is your family? The Teagarden’s are a family. They do things together, like attending meetings, singing in the car, joking, laughing and crying. We need more families like them!
How you die is governed by how you live! Sean slipped away peacefully, quietly, and with family around. He was not bitter. He was concerned about others becoming bitter and admonished them not to let this happen. He “remembered his Creator in the days of his youth.” Sean could face the giant of cancer, because he could face the “lions and bears” of life, much like David of old (1 Sam. 17). He could face the small everyday things with God, and this prepared him to face the giant things when they came.
Sean told his family that he was glad it was him and not someone who was unprepared — what faith!
Sean told his father toward the end, that he had two regrets. One was that he would never have his own family, and the other was that he had not had the time to help convert someone to Christ. Only the first was really true. His father spoke to him of those he had influenced to obey his example. His sermon will continue to be heard!
I sat and listened to Sean talk in his last hours, about Bible stories he heard as a young child. I observed two loving parents, and two loving sisters, who truly loved him. The family has been through a lot, but they have come through with strength. The lonely days come and go and time helps us to go on, but his loss will always be felt. The friends and family that gathered for the funeral will continue to help ease the hard days ahead. The influence of Sean and his family was evidenced by the attendance of over 500 at the funeral and the 76 cars that went to the cemetery. His school asked for a copy of the sermon delivered by brother Wes Brown, of Charleston, WV, so the students could listen. He was honored for his courage, faith and hope.
Heaven is surely worth it all! (1 Cor. 2:9; Jn. 14:2; Rev. 21:4,6,7,23-27) Another saint has passed over to the other side. Heaven is appealing enough because our Savior is there, but when one we love has gone on to Paradise to await the Judgment, it makes getting to heaven a little more urgent (Matt. 5:4). In the words of brother Brown, may we all have the attitude of Balaam when he said: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” (Num. 23:10)
Brave Young Soldier
A fighter from the very first, our brave young soldier was. Battling hard with labored breath to overcome the foe. Loving mom could only watch, and hold him close and hug. While loving dad with furrowed brow fought bitter tears of woe
Sweet sisters both in their own sweet way stood by with tender love.
Sean, the brave young soldier fights on to be above.
He fights for life because of One who died for all you see. He suffered also long and hard and died upon a tree.
Just sixteen you might say, but 16 pure and happy years. The words and memories he recalls are good ones, void of fears.
Death will come to Sean so soon, but will not the victor be. Sean awaits a heavenly home where his Savior he will see.
There is no sting in this young death for he has the victory. We all will see him one sweet day, if we serve faithfully.
A void will be in all our lives from the death of one so brave. But our garden of memories will overflow, from this one who showed us how to behave.
Words are vain, hugs grow empty, and long will be the day. But we with happy hope shall await, the great reunion Way.
(Written by Stan Adams in loving tribute to Sean Teagarden and his wonderful family. October 9, 1992.)
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 4, p. 8-9
February 18, 1993