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Tribute to Jon Bradbury

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It was an honor above all else, to be invited by the family to speak at both the memorial Service in Atlanta, Georgia, and at the Funeral Service in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as a Celebration of Jon Bradbury's Life. I know that Jon is looking down from his heavenly father's feet as we celebrate.

I first met Jon on June 23, 2006 when he traveled to Atlanta from Toronto for his interview as Multi Media Ministries Assistant in the Communications Bureau here at Territorial Headquarters.

I was to meet him at his hotel just across the street. We had never met so I asked him to wait in the hotel lobby where I would pick him up. On arrival I found the lobby crowded - with ladies of various ages who were obviously together for an event. As I searched the crowded area I saw a young man sat at the breakfast table writing vigorously in a journal. From that moment on we shared a unique friendship and fellowship, alas now at an end, at least in this life.

He had had some experience of video production while at college but admitted he was a little rusty. Something in his chemistry spoke to me at that interview and convinced me that he would be a valuable member of our small team.

Jon loved to write-whatever the subject. He was rarely without his journal or a large notepad and pen. Now, his handwriting left a lot to be desired-something I reminded him of over these past weeks when all he had was a pad and pen to communicate from his hospital bed. He was always producing many lists of tasks, ideas, instructions and used up many packs of PostIt Notes.

Jon's positive, friendly and often infectious personality came through right from our first encounter. He valued every opportunity of enjoying life in his short career with us in the Communications Bureau and in his interactions with the many he worked with at THQ. We were a unique and somewhat unusual team-a Brit, a Canadian, a Venezuelan and a Georgia (that a UGA) Georgia girl.

His first week of employment was spent with me in Dallas coordinating the labeling and shipping of over 6,000 valuable video tapes that now form our library here at THQ.

Jon applied himself to the full in measured achievement and personally sought ways to constantly improve his skills and better the service we offered The Salvation Army. He soon surpassed the most basic of those skills in video production and introduced many techniques and effects to enhance our capability. He was close to full certification as a professional video editor. Much of his studies for this were achieved outside of working hours.

What was also most significant was the rapid definition of his creative skills, something that I really did not expect from a relative beginner. Soon he was assisting me in the field where again his artistic ideas and accomplishments augmented the creative team input.

Jon also renewed his spiritual experience as together with Eli, Laura and myself, would pray around the table at staff meetings. He openly exhibited the Five Core Values of The Salvation Army: Passion for his work and the mission; Compassion for us as a team and all who he met, his Bravery in that hospital bed, unable to breath on his own, or speak to his family; his Uplifting countenance with all who met him, and the Trust he exhibited for his fellow workers and the Army.

Jon will live on in many of our productions. His commitment to the mission of the Army is so evident in his work. Being the son of officers was of course an advantage as he contributed greatly from his knowledge and experience in our planning meetings. In just a short time he had researched sections of our recently acquired video library and had found film clips representing some of the pioneering days of our movement.

Our two camera team captured much of the spirit of each event that we recorded, be it Roots, the Installation of territorial leaders, or Atlanta Temple Corps special meetings. In fact, the services to Celebrate his short life were recorded as a tribute to Jon and his spirit. Jon's last filming project was at the Bible Conference for the welcome of the cadets.

One memorable video shoot was in May of this year down in New Orleans where we were interviewing many of our caseworkers from the Katrina Aid Today project. It was day 2 and we were in a hot and humid hotel guest room-now a TV studio-with lights and air conditioning silenced. It was after lunch and we were on our fifth interview and both very hot and feeling quite sleepy. I requested that #6 interviewee not report for at least 20 minutes to give us a break. The next thing we knew was an apologetic lady knocking on the door as we both awoke from a much needed nap!

Jon made many friends both here at THQ and in the Field. Everyone commented on his bright, positive attitude in the corridors, elevators and at break when he and Laura would do their walking around the building. It was my privilege to conduct the annual employment review with Jon during the summer months. This is what I had written in the summary column.

Jon has quickly established himself as a valuable employee and competent video technician/editor. He is also developing great skills as a photographer (videographer.) Jon has diligently applied himself to learning his craft and has settled very well in the Communications Bureau. He is a strong team player.

Commissioner Feener will agree that we are a little lost without him right now. He made a difference and his service to the Southern Territory is most significant.

I must also pay great tribute to Mom and Dad, Clarence and Linda. What a great source of strength, and what wonderful examples they are of Christian living and example. I am certain that the medical staff observed this in the love and devotion they have shown daily and nightly for their son Jon, and the compassion they have expressed to the doctors and nursing staff over these many weeks.

Major Clarence sent out periodic email updates and in those very accurate description of Jon's fluctuating condition would include a strong spiritual message referencing our somewhat fragile lives. One such message was the following (of which this is but a short extract).

"Crisis moments like this are never lost in the economy of God. He is doing further shaping in our lives as we learn to lean into Him and be more attuned to His still small voice. So we go deeper with Him and will come out of this better people, less confident in our own strength, more aware of Jesus and His ways in our lives, more sensitive to the pain of others, better equipped as carriers of His presence and agents of His healing grace."

Little did we know when that expression was made that such an outcome would befall dear Jon. While we are questioning the why?, we must also accept that God is always in control.

I have been reminded several times of the song written by Howard Davies:

Many are the things I cannot understand
All above me mystery I see
But the gift most wonderful from God's own hand
Surely is his gift of grace to me.
Higher than the stars that reach eternity
Broader than the boundaries of endless space
Is the love of God that pardoned me
O the wonder of his grace.

In 1 John 3: we read the following:
‘What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it-we're called children of God! That's who we really are. And that's only the beginning. Who knows how we will all end up? What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we'll see him-and in seeing him, become like him.'

Our Jon has always been that Child of God. But now he has seen him, and has become like Him.

Jon, you will live on in our memories and especially in our hearts. You made a difference in our lives. We love you.

Christopher Priest
Territorial Director of Communications

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