James Joseph Ponce

My brother went to be with the Lord yesterday. He went peacefully in the night. I never expected to write those words being so young. I figured if I was still blogging I still wouldn’t have to say those words for another 40 years at least, or perhaps it would be someone else saying it about me. I was tempted to feel sorry for Jay, I felt like I should but I remembered he is with God. The shock is still present and I know that the grief will come in waves. But he is in a better place. We were similar in some ways, we shared a passion for the word and theology. We have lived in separate states for about fifteen years now and whenever I would call him we would usually discuss theology and God after the short family updates.

After months of Jay battling cancer I was afraid that part of my moving here was because God was calling me home for such a time as this. I had visions of this playing out as it has and I did not want to entertain them as real a possibility as it was. He was on the mend, he was supposed to get better. I wanted to live to an old age sitting on a porch with all our kids all grown up discussing the Lord with Jay and everyone. This was literally my prayer a year ago when I never truly thought I would return to Tucson.

I thought I should weep for him but he is where all believers will be one day, with the maker. As I drove across the city to see his family yesterday I realized I was weeping for myself. He gets to see Jesus and it is the rest of us who the sorrow is for. I have little words for it, loss is hard to place, I feel deep, deep sorrow as the rest of us try to continue on without him. Especially for Sara and the four kids. He leaves behind four beautiful children who I was excited to move back home to Tucson to see and have Raphael grow up with. This is still the plan. But Raphael will never know uncle Jay. I rend over that.

The Bible teaches us to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice. I want to rejoice over his life.

I know that Jay was passionate about teaching his kids about the Lord. I know that he had zeal for God that came across to others and was an example to me. When we were young he was a worship leader at our church and he inspired and invited me to join even though I was just figuring out if I could even sing or not. This solitary action positioned me in front of the Lord that no other way could. This began a life long passion of worship to God and ministerial involvement that has resulted in my Pastorate today.

Without Jay encouraging me to try I would have remained the shy kid at church who believed nobody like him. I remember another incident even earlier where Jay and I were doing yard work for a teacher of mine with another boy. The husband of the teacher said whoever could clear the most brush the quickest would receive a bonus prize even though we would all receive a small payment for the work. When the contest was coming to a close at end of a long day of work it was clear that I was in last place, I felt a little sad but I was at least happy he would beat the other boy. Jay decided then and there that he would give me his bundles of brush so that I would win.

I think the man recognized that I couldn’t have done all the work myself and so he let us all win in the end. But what I took away from that was that a brother looks out for a brother which I later would put into play with our other younger brother on the playground at school when fights would arise. He also taught me to drive stick shift and helped me to learn to play guitar, he gave me his old Ovation so I could learn myself. I still use the strap today as the guitar died long ago. I sit and think and the stories come back to me of how he led the worship teams and was such an example to me. I remember the practices and the prayer meetings the services and the conferences and I remember always being inspired by him. He pursued God in a way that I knew I wanted and I later grew to do as well. I remember my brother as many others do, I know that he impacted and ministered to many people.

I am apart of his legacy to the Lord and I will help continue that legacy of relationship with the Lord with Raphael along side Jay’s own kids. They may not have a father anymore, but they will have an uncle continuing to pursue God and hopefully inspiring them as Jay did for me. We will all miss him dearly.

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise he made to us: eternal life. (1 John 2:24-25)

I am happy that he is seeing the fruit of his faith, he is worshiping before the King of Kings and his voice is added to the angels that sing Holy, Holy, Holy. The Ponce’s have suffered a major loss but heaven has gained another son.  I know that I will see him again on the other side because I know that my redeemer lives.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

Look to the Lord as he did, because we never know when the Lord will call us home. I wanted more time with Jay, we all did. The sun has set on another life created by God but his light will live on. All I can do now is dedicate this blog to Jay for a life well lived, and thank him for the example he was to me and be there for his family left behind.

You will be missed Jay. There are tears now, but I see you on the other side.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol Unruh says:

    I don’t know if you even remember us, but we remember with love the Ponce family!! We loved leading worship many years ago with your dad and Dan and Jay back when we lived in Tucson. Jay was a gifted guitar player even as a teenager when we knew him. We are so sorry for such a deep loss for your family. You are all in our prayers!
    Bryan and Carol Unruh


  2. Sue says:

    I’m in shock and so very sad. Jay was truly a psalmist and a lover of God and adored his bride Sarah like no other young man I’ve seen. I didn’t even know he was sick, which is also sad. My heart goes out to Sarah, the kids, and the entire Ponce and Neuman family. So, so many great memories of Jay! His amazing guitar playing, his sweet music to the Lord. What a very gifted young man he was in so many ways. We’ll always love him, and remember him fondly! God Bless you guys. What a nice tribute you wrote to him Gabe. What a great big brother.


  3. Jason Fifield says:

    Thank you Gabe for sharing this beautiful eulogy, I’m sure that was not easy to write.
    You have been blessed with a great legacy and I was inspired to read how your brother impacted you and others.
    His’ passing is an end that brings tears and grieving, but it is also a beginning that brings hope and inspiration for the future.
    God bless you and your family. Praying for you today that the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit would cover your family.


  4. Harmony Brown says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your family are in my thoughts and prayers.What a beautiful legacy your brother is leaving for you and your family to follow. I am so touched by your love for him and the way you both honor Christ!


  5. Rachel Burch says:

    What a Beautifully written tribute about the Love you have for your brother.
    The Burches share in your sadness and rejoice for the reunion you all will have with him.
    So glad you are in Tucson with all your family. Seems like God really was calling you home for a time such as this. Love you all!!
    ❤️ Brian and Rachel and kids. 🙏🏻


  6. Scott Knight says:

    Sorry to hear of Jay’s passing. His life was an inspiration to me. I enjoyed the many times I was involved in worship times with Jay. I’m glad he is with the Lord now.


  7. lori Paolini says:

    What a gifted, Godly young man! I loved what he brought to the Abundant Life community as a musician and also just a great person. So many wonderful memories. My thoughts and prayers are with Sarah and his family. So sorry to hear of your great loss!
    Lori Paolini


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