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Remembering Jonathan Barr Jon Barr
"Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal
glory that far outweighs them all." - 2 Cor 4:17
Remembering Jonathan Barr : Home

July 7th, at 10:10 p.m. our strong, life loving son, Jonathan Barr, entered a new adventure in the presence of the God He longed to know so deeply. Jon passed into that eternal adventure gently, his blood pressure slowing down bit by bit till his heart stopped. He was free from pain and hurt.
Daniel Peckham -
Saturday, July 31, 2004

Some of us have had the privilege of reading Jon's book Through Pain to Peace by Way of Promises And Other Assorted Mysteries of the Heart. Thanks to Nate Addink (who spent a long time scanning the book into the computer) and Tim Malabuyo (who finished putting the book onto our site), it is now up on this website on the Through Pain to Peace page. It is really, really good, and I would encourage everyone to read it.
Don Barr
Friday, July 16, 2004

Dear Loved Ones,

Since we last wrote a few days ago, much has transpired. Thursday we were getting ready to go to Cokato to make arrangements with a funeral director, who's a friend of Shari's from high school days. Just before we left, a family stopped by whom Jon had met through his ministry to high school students with Campus Crusade his senior year. They gave us a copy of a small booklet Jon had given them. It was called "From Pain to Peace By Way of Promises." He had written this sharing about how God comforted him in the death of Holly Miller by snake bite when Jon was on the EduVenture semester in Indonesia his sophomore year in college, 2001. We had never seen it before. Jon was not one to toot his own horn. But God brought it to us at just the right moment. Shari, Joy and I read it as we drove to Cokato. What an incredible experience being ministered to by our son's words written as he wrestled through the pain and grief of losing a close friend. We wept and were comforted by Jon's words in that booklet! He ended the booklet, "Holly's in heaven, we'll meet her again someday. As I look back on Holly's step into greater life, I realize this: It was decidedly not a tragedy. God's promises are enough to support all men through all situations if they are trusted without reservation. This is no tragedy. How can Holly be in heaven, and my heart be filled with peace and promise of a future hope, and so many lives pushed closer to the Kingdom of heaven, and this still be called a tragedy? No, "to live is Christ, but to die is gain!" We now, like Jon at the death of Holly, find it very possible to trust that God's plans are perfect. His purposes for Jon's life were accomplished. This was decidedly NOT a tragedy in the eyes of our sovereign God. And we hold on to this thought: Jon now sees the face of God!

We had a wonderful, God-honoring homegoing service for Jon at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, the church Jon attended while going to Northwestern College. There were at least 300 people there from all the various spheres of life who had been impacted by Jon: friends from Indonesia days who came from Dallas and Kansas, many High School friends from Faith Academy, Manila (they came from Washington state, Virginia, Colorado, Michigan, Texas and parts in between), friends from Cokato, MN, where Jon spent his Jr. year in High School, and was part of the State championship wrestling team, so many friends from Northwestern college, friends and family he impacted all around Minnesota, and so many more. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and care by all these people.

The funeral service was God focused, not Jon Barr focused, as Jon would have wanted. Many shared "Reflections of God" seen through their encounters with Jon. At the end, my sister Mary Morel, led a challenge for all present to lay aside the things that hold us back and commit ourselves to press on in God to see His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth, even as Jon so persistently and relentlessly had been doing right up till his death. Virtually the entire congregation stood at her invitation, including some close family members we have been praying for for many years. We'll see them this weekend and hope to follow up on that.

Among the many special people who came were Ruth and Heather Miller, Holly's Mother and sister who came all the way from Canon Falls, Oregon to be there for us.

Monday, July 10th, we had the burial service in a small cemetery near Grand Marais, MN. Many people came to that service as well. What a God honoring time that was. Friends of the family brought lovely wild lupine flowers for all the people present to lay on Jon's casket. My sister Nancy's family led in worship, as they had in the funeral in Minneapolis. We praised God in songs like "The Love of God", "It is well with my soul" and many others. A number of Jon's high school friends came and served as pall bearers, helping lower the casket into the grave. Then the funeral director gave opportunity for people to throw some dirt on the grave. Well, the first up there were Jeremy and Joe. They shoveled and worked along with a number of others and helped completely fill in the entire grave. This really helped bring closure.

We had talked with Jeremy and Joe about Jon and where he is now. But we were wondering how much of all this Joe really grasped. He was standing near my niece, Andrea, who shared with us later what she heard. She said, "As they were lowering the casket into the ground, Joe said, 'there he goes...' and he went to grab a shovel. After he had thrown several shovelfuls in the grave he put the shovel down and said, 'that's better, that's much better.' He shoveled the whole time until the job was done. He was one of the last guys scraping the remaining dirt onto the grave. He set his shovel down and brushed the dirt off his hand, saying, 'There, there.' He continued to repeat, 'Miss you Jon, see you again, miss that guy, see him again,' sniffing loudly and wiping his eyes and clinging to cousin Chrissy. God helped Joe, and all of us through that.

The next day we sorted through Jon's little cabin in the woods, marveling at the simplicity of his living place, complete with the iron wood stove he had welded together to warm his small wood paneled nook. His friends from Faith Academy in Manila came to see it, and prayed for us as we all were getting ready to leave. What a blessing that these friends came from so far away to be part of this event in our lives!

Today, back in the Minneapolis area, we went to the small cabin where Jon was living on the property of the family he was helping by homeschooling two of their children. In a few hours we were able to go through all of Jon's things. He lived a simple, uncomplicated life, yet impacted people in such a deep, profound way. This quiet, deep thinking, fun loving son who loved to live on the edge, had such a huge impact in so many people's lives---from the kids he taught, to college friends, adults and teachers he knew. As we have heard so many tell their stories we are awed at what God did through Jon's short 23 years on this earth. And now he is enjoying life in God's presence.

God has heard your prayers for us and our family. We have been buoyed up by those prayers and carried through all these days by them (and please don't stop). We have daily experienced what the Bible speaks about, "grace to help in our time of need." So many have sent cards, emails and called. It will take us weeks to sort through them all and respond. But thank you for holding us up and reaching across the miles to encourage and comfort us.

This whole experience fills us with an even greater urgency to be about our Father God's business of seeing people from every tongue and tribe and people and nation meet him. Mt. 23:14 says it so eloquently, "And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (people groups), and then the end will come." That is God's heart. That was Jon's heart. That is our heart too.

Going on with God till ALL the Nations worship,

Don, Shari, Joy, Joe and Jeremy
Michael Martens
Monday, July 12, 2004

Dear IDB family,

On Saturday, July 10, Martha and I, Kenny and Steven, attended Jon Barr's funeral at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. We flew back to Dallas on Sunday. Today (Monday, July 12), Don and Shari and family are burying Jon near Grand Marais, in the northeast tip of Minnesota, where Don's family is from.

I am amazed how exhausted I was from just being there, from 11AM for the viewing, through the funeral service at 1PM, followed by a light meal for the Barrs and their "family"--Don and Shari included all of us Indonesia Branch people as family. So we were there till after 5PM. The whole time Don and Shari were amazing. I expected to find them sitting in a corner, eyes red from tears, letting everyone else do what needed to be done. But no, they were going from one group to another; from one "group hug" to another; introducing this person to that person; remembering and talking--even laughing--about Jon with one person after another. They seemed full of energy.

Don and Shari asked our boys, Kenny and Steven, to be pall bearers. Other pall bearers included:
Amos Collins, who was Jon and Kenny's roommate at Faith Academy during high school;
Kory Capps, who was Jon's very close friend at Northwestern College;
a bunch of Jon's cousins.

Besides us (the Martens family), other Indonesia Branch people present at the funeral included:
Bob and Marilyn Busenitz and their three kids, who drove up from Wichita, KS;
Jim and Judi Olson and seven of their children, who live in the Minneapolis area;
Jeanna (Laidig) and Joel Worley, who came from Indiana I think;

And there were some Philippines Branch, Faith Academy and Davao friend, including:
Gary Persons and his daughters Andrea and Bonita and son Jon;
Amos Collins;
Steve Schwartz;
"Coach" Kuhlow (sorry I don't know his first name);
David and Gail Worley;
Melody (Kuiken) (sorry I don't know her married name);
Kari Kipp;
Peter Beck;
Josh Adams;
Mike Nelson.

I'm sure I'm leaving out some people. And lots of Jon's friends from Northwestern College and from his church, Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis. And there were many relatives from both Don's and Shari's family. There must have been at least 300 people at the funeral service at Bethlehem Baptist.

Jon's college roommate, Kory, was one person who spoke about Jon at the funeral. He said that Jon loved to run, and he always ran hard, like that particular run was the most important run of his life. That seems to be how he did lots of things, like a fanatic. Kory said, "Jon's heartbeat sounded like this:

"Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
Unreached! Unreached! Unreached!
Missions! Missions! Missions!"

Here are some quotes from the bulletin that was printed for Jon's funeral:

"He was born in Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia, on November 17, 1980. He died in Regions Hospital, St. Paul, MN, from injuries sustained when he was electrocuted while sailing his small boat on the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota. He asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior at age 5. He was a member of the 1997-1998 Dassel-Cokato State Championship Wrestling Team. Jon graduated from Faith Academy, Manila, Philippines, May 1999. There he was selected as Outstanding Boy Athlete and Outstanding Senior Boy in his class. He attended Northwestern College, St. Paul, MN, and graduated with a BA in Bible and Intercultural Studies. He spent a year abroad in Indonesia and there felt called to work in community development. His passion was to know Jesus more and challenge others to do the same."

Just a few of the crazy and dear things Jon did while here on earth:

  • making a human launcher
  • building tree houses and ziplines in tall trees
  • climbed Devil's Tower and the Grand Tetons
  • jumped off Taylor's Falls and 80-ft. drop Daranak Falls in the Philippines
  • tubing down raging Davao River and caving in Mindanao, Philippines
  • surfing and bare back horse riding on the beaches in Sumba, Indonesia
  • hand springs, flips, walking on his hands, 2-person juggling
  • throwing the soccer ball into the game by handsprings
  • back and front flips on the trampoline and on the ground
  • living in a house boat on frozen lake Josephine
  • Polar bear plunge at NWC
  • played bongos, guitar, and tenor recorder
  • SMF prayer leader (24 hour prayer meeting for unreached people groups)
  • leading Thursday night Bible study at Midwest Challenge (Prison Ministry)
  • Student Needs Representative to the Northwestern College Board
  • sledding at the Hill of Death
  • attempting to ride llamas in Montana, and succeeding on a water buffalo in Indonesia
  • mind-flossing with spaghetti
  • broomball, skiing, soccer and wrestling
  • hunting geese with a slingshot
  • EduVenture in Indonesia"

When Jon was on the EduVenture training trip to Sumba, Indonesia, a young woman named Holly Miller died from a snake bite. Jon was very close to Holly. Shortly after Holly's death, Jon wrote a book about her death. In it he asked the question: Was Holly's death a tragedy. Here is part of his answer. The words are prophetic of his own death:

"God's promises are enough to support all men through all situations if they are trusted without reservation. This is no tragedy... No, 'to live is Christ, and to die is gain!'"

dalam nama-Nya,
Michael & Martha Marten
Don Barr
Friday, July 9, 2004

Dear Loved ones,

Another very full day has passed, making arrangements for Jon's funeral and burial. This is the plan. The funeral will be held Saturday July 10 at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN. Viewing will be at the church only, beginning at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. The church is located at 720 13th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN, just a couple blocks SE from the Hubert H. Humprhey Metrodome. (612)338-7653.

We will have the burial service 1:00 p.m. Monday, July 12, at Maple Hill Cemetery, on the Gunflint trail near Grand Marais. We were able to get a plot right near where Jon's Grandpa Barr is buried.


Take Hwy 61 NE from Duluth to Grand Marais, In Grand Marais take the Gunflint Trail up the big hill to the first road on the left PAST Devil's Track Rd. There is a small sign for Maple Hill Cemetery by this gravel road. Follow the road to the end. The plot is near the small chapel.

Going on in God till All the nations worship.

Don and Shari, Joy, Joe and Jeremy
Don Barr
Thursday, July 8, 2004

Dear Loved ones,

July 7th, at 10:10 p.m. our strong, life loving son, Jonathan Barr, entered a new adventure in the presence of the God He longed to know so deeply. Jon passed into that eternal adventure gently, his blood pressure slowing down bit by bit till his heart stopped. He was free from pain and hurt.

Early yesterday morning at 2:30 a.m. the doctors called us after they had done a second surgery to take away further dead tissue. They said the news was not good. They had taken Jon's right leg within a few inches of his hip, and the left leg half way up the thigh. His left forearm had many dead muscle groups as well. There was secondary infection spreading in Jon's body. They told us medically the next step to try and save his life would be to take his legs off at the hips, amputate his left arm above the elbow to try and get the dead tissue which was poisoning his system. They asked us to come to the hospital at 8:00 a.m. to discuss what we wanted them to do.

As Shari and I sat there at 2:30 a.m., each of us individually felt such an extreme sense of calm, and peace--God's presence. We both independently felt, "We can't keep cutting away at Jon's body in the hopes of trying to keep the remaining part of him alive." We surrendered Jon to God to either miraculously heal him, even to the point of restoring his legs if He wanted, or to take Jon to be with him. We had much peace about this, even as we had been given much peace about the initial decision to allow his legs to be amputated.

At the hospital the doctors gave us more information. Jon's kidneys were beginning to block up from all the debris they were processing out of his body. They said they could not fully assess the extent of any neurological damage to Jon's system from the shock. They said even with the aggressive intervention of further amputation there was less than a 1 in 4 chance of his surviving. They didn't know if he could survive further major surgery. And they told us they had never seen anyone survive with this serious an injury with the tissue decay progressing as rapidly as in Jon's body. All that confirmed to us that we should not proceed with more surgery, and to let God do with Jon as He chose--to either miraculously heal him, or take him. The doctors continued to administer pain medication, sedation and breathing help as well as medication to sustain his blood pressure to allow time for family members to come. We were able to get in touch with Joy at work in Dallas, Texas, and get her a plane ticket for that night. Others came from Grand Marais. An uncle and a cousin came from Wyoming, and Jon's aunt en route to Seattle turned around in N. Dakota and came back. Jon's blood pressure slowly dropped bit by bit. As I was driving to the airport to get Joy, Jon's heart stopped. Joy told us she just sensed as their plane was landing at 10:10 that Jon was gone.

Just before and after Jon passed on, those gathered in Jon's very full hospital room began singing hymns of praise and praying, thanking the Lord for Jon. Shari was right there by Jon and experienced this special time with these friends and family rejoicing when Jon passed into God's presence.

All through the day literally dozens of people came to the hospital from all over the place. Family, friends from Northwestern College where Jon graduated, friends from Cokato where Jon was on the State Championship wrestling team in 1997-98, even friends from Faith Academy Manila days. One couple flew from S. Bend, Indiana to be there. Jon has amazing, loving, caring friends. It was overwhelming to us to see all these people from so many spheres of life whose lives Jon's had touched. I'm sure we don't yet know the half of it.

We are comforted, knowing than Jon is WHOLE. As one man prayed, "It doesn't take legs to run into the arms of Jesus." We can picture him doing back flips across heaven, going exploring the cosmos with his Grandpa Barr, whose spirit and passion for knowing God Jon shared so deeply. I know heaven will be impacted by this young man, even as this earth has in his short 23 years. I am looking forward to one day fully sharing in those eternal adventures with Jon, with my own body new and energized so I can keep up with this strong son.

Thanks to all for your prayers, your love, your caring. We appreciate prayers for funeral arrangements which are being worked out now. We are aiming for a funeral service the in Twin Cities area some time Saturday, with burial service in Grand Marais, close to where Grandpa Barr is buried. We'll keep you posted on details so those who can come will know where these will be.

We are surrounded by an absolutely awesome God, an equally awesome extended family, and the great extended Family of God. We can say without hesitation, God is good.

A friend shared a quote from J. Oswald Sanders that has encouraged us. "God does not waste suffering, nor does He discipline with caprice. When He plows He purposes a crop." May God reap from all of us the crop He intends through allowing Jon, and us, to experience this suffering.

F.R.O.G. (Fully Relying on God)

Don, Shari, Joy, Joe and Jeremy
Don Barr
Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Dear Family and loved ones around the world,

Many of you have already heard this news, but some haven't yet. So forgive the redundancy. I also am still trying to build a list of people to update, so some of you may get more than one copy of this. Forgive that redundancy as well. We'll try to sort it out as we go along.

In the morning of July 3rd our son Jon was electrocuted while on a small catamaran sailboat on Bow Lake up in northern Minnesota. The Barr family was having a reunion there, so we had almost 50 family members around. He and his younger brother Jeremy (12) and a cousin Zachary (8) were on the boat. As they approach shore on a narrow part of the lake the mast of the sailboat hit high power lines and 14,000 volts of electricity shot into Jon who was holding the aluminum rudder. Jeremy and Zachary were on the tarp floor between the fiberglass hulls and were able to jump off without any harm whatsoever. That is a HUGE miracle in and of itself! Jon was thrown into the water by the shore and landed on Zachary's dog Sam, who took the electricity into his body and likely saved Jon. Sam was killed on the spot. But his body held Jon's head out of the water. Zachary's dad, Josh Barr, was able to pull Jon to shore, gave some CPR and got Jon breathing. Others called 911 and within a short time EMTs were on the scene. Jon was conscious, though confused from the intense shock, and talking and breathing on his own. He was taken by ambulance 28 miles to Cook County Hospital. I followed the ambulance down and was there for the brief time as they prepared him to be taken by helicopter to Duluth. He was responding to questions, asked for us, though he was quickly being sedated to help with pain.

We drove the three hours to Duluth, to the burn unit where Jon was taken. My sister Suzie and her husband Rob DuMont went with us to help with Joe and Jeremy, which was a huge help. What a family God has given us! Both our immediate family, and the larger family of Christ! The doctors made incisions on Jon's legs to release the pressure that builds from the damage such a shock delivers to the muscle and tissue. They were very frank in telling us with the extent of damage to Jon's lower legs they did not have a lot of hope of saving the legs below the knees. That was hard to hear. We requested that they arrange to move Jon to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area where we have family and a lot more resources to help. They agreed and began the process of arranging that. The next morning they told us Jon would be transferred that day to Regions Hospital in St. Paul by helicopter. That happened by about 1:00 p.m. We followed down a bit later after connecting with family members Chrissy Patten and Katie and Shelly Morel, who came to help with Joe and Jeremy. My brother Bill and wife Cheryl came down too to be with Shari and me. Having these family members around has been an unspeakably wonderful help. As many of you know Cheryl has walked through near a death experience with Bill when he had a major head injury in India several years ago, and they have been a great help to us.

Even before we left Duluth we got a call on the cell phone from the hospital in St. Paul asking our permission to do further releasing of pressure in Jon's limbs including his forearms, and to remove dead tissue from his legs. We agreed. As we walked into Bill and Cheryl's home around 8:00 the phone rang. The doctors had Jon in the OR and said they needed to amputate his legs soon or he would die. They gave us time to get to the hospital. Bill and Cheryl went along. As we drove there we felt the Holy Spirit much with us as we prayed, "Lord we have been asking for Jon's life and his legs. If you want to save His legs please show the doctors living tissue in the legs. If not, we'll take this as a sign it is your will to take Jon's legs."

The doctors laid out the extent and severity of Jon's injury. They found no living tissue in his legs, no functioning blood vessels and little skin. To delay action would only increase the amount of toxins from the dead tissue being released into his body which would kill him. We talked to the two surgeons and they both concurred that this was the only way to save Jon's life. So we agreed to the amputation. They took both lower legs off at the knee. They will likely have to go a bit higher to close over the tissue later. They said there might be more tissue that doesn't make it that will need to be removed.

It is now July 6th. Jon is stable. His vital organs are functioning well (breathing, heart, kidneys, lungs). They are planning another surgery today to take off any further dead tissue. We'll be going to the hospital after lunch to get an update on how things went. The critical areas for prayer now are:

1. Prevention of INFECTION and further complications
2. Death of tissue to stop and health to the tissue yet alive
3. Wisdom for hospital staff for best possible treatment daily
4. Strength and wisdom for us for decisions in days ahead. It may take 6-8 weeks for medical recovery, then rehabilitation can start.
5. Grace for Jon as he faces a different future

In all this we have been experiencing in a way we have never before had to, that God's grace and help is there and sustaining us moment by moment. The Body of Christ is alive and well, and we are surrounded by amazing examples of this. God continues to bless and encourage us through so many people and ways. Let me share some of that so you too can be encouraged even as you process the shock of all this.

Last winter Jon lived with my sister and her family, Mark and Nancy Patten. Their daughter Chrissy is here with us helping Joe and Jeremy. She said that last winter Jon once shared in a worship time that he had a deep desire in his heart that one day God could say, "Have you considered my servant Jon?" He wanted to be counted worthy of suffering for God like Job. Later he shared with Chrissy that he sensed that there was something yet to be surrendered in his life, something more to be required of him. He did not know what it was, but it was big and daunting. He could feel it's coming and there was an inner sense of being called to a deeper place. But he just did not know what. Well, we now know the WHAT.

On the wall in Jon's little cabin is a poster: "My body is not my own." That is Jon's heart, for those of you who know him. He has a passion to be like Christ that awes us and challenges our own faith. He wants his life to be so Christ like that others will be led to Jesus as well. What a gift this godly son is to us! The EMTs who took him to the Grand Marais hospital all said to us, "You have a wonderful son. We usually hear profanity and cursing from victims in situations like this. But Jon was praying, and so polite in all he said to us." They too prayed for him in the ambulance. Already God was showing the kind of character in this young man.

Jon has a group of close friends from college days, and they have been much in contact with us, praying, helping. As they prayed the night the decision to amputate Jon's legs was made, God gave them Psalm 147:10-11. "His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Others have shared 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. We have this treasure (of God) in jars of clay to show that his all-surpassing power is from God. Sometimes the jars have to be broken for the glory and power to be seen more clearly. vs. 17 says, "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." To that we cling even as we grieve the loss of Jon's legs. Chapter 25 of THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE has been of much encouragement and comfort to us. We read it just a few days before Jon's accident. God is preparing us for eternity, building in us His character. Because He is in control accidents are just incidents in God's good plan for us.

Thank you for your prayers, love, comfort and concern expressed across the miles. We'll keep you updated via email. We have been inundated with phone calls and are trying to arrange a way to get information out in a timely way that leaves us with time to function.

You mean so much to us. We are experiencing in a new level what it means to be part of the Body of Christ.

Love to each of you special people,

Don, Shari, Joe and Jeremy
Remembering Jon
Through Pain to Peace

Ann - Friend -
Sunday, July 9, 2017 - 6:29 pm

We all talk about and miss Jon Barr when this time of year rolls around. A time to reflect, what is...
Jonathan Barr - Didn't, was googling my name. -
Friday, November 6, 2015 - 8:57 pm

Very interesting, we have so much in common. I am a born again Christian, who is a sold out soul...
Ann Thompson -
Friday, July 4, 2014 - 11:54 am

10 years in heaven now. I always think of Jon on the 4th of July, because of the fireworks. Jon...
Kory Capps - friend
Saturday, May 24, 2014 - 3:05 pm

I remember picking up Jonny from the airport after he returned from Eduventure where his close...
Leah LaPine - College
Friday, July 19, 2013 - 8:29 pm

What a remarkable young man Jon was. I'm struck by the fact that even nine years after his passing...

Site created by Daniel & Tim, MK friends of Jon from the Philippines.
We miss you greatly Jon, but we look forward to being together again soon in Paradise.

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