IRLA Leader Remembers His Friend
Below is the full text of the address given by Dr. John Graz, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty association, at the September 5 funeral of Karel Nowak, who died tragically on August 19. Karel was Secretary General of the Euro-Africa Chapter of the International Religious Liberty Association, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Adventist Church in Euro-Africa, and editor of the publication, Conscience et Liberté.
Dear Dana, Alena, Eva, and Jana:
Dear members of the family, brothers, son’s in law, relatives
It was 5 a.m. in Sydney on Friday, August 19, when I received the tragic news. My good friend Karel, who had planned to join us on Sunday at the University of Sydney, would not be coming. Karel would never come again. He had passed away.
On Tuesday afternoon we organized a memorial service at the University’s School of Law. I would have liked all of you to be there with us, to listen to the moving testimonies from professors and experts.
Our church president Ted Wilson asked me to send you his sympathy. He had known Karel for 20 years and had very good memories of him.
In the many testimonies I received from around the world, three words came like a refrain: efficiency, wisdom and kindness. They characterize Karel so well.
Our relations with Karel were pleasant and easy. He had made his place in our world team and everyone loved him.
In the meetings he attended, Karel imposed neither his presence nor his ideas. He listened to everyone, analyzed, observed. But then we would as “Karel, what do you think about this issue?” and we knew that he would have an appropriate and wise answer.
In 2009, I asked him to join our General Conference team and to represent the world Church at the United Nations. He declined because he did not want to impose a difficult move for his family.
On Thursday morning August 25, as the aircraft began its descent into Cairns airport. I looked through the window and saw the countryside, the mountains and the hills, the coast, and the ocean’s blue water. Karel had seen that, too, just a few days earlier.
The local young pastor was waiting for me at the airport. We received Karel ashes, met the police and got his blue suitcase and his two bags. I kept all of them very carefully during the nine days before I arrived in Prague. It was like Karel was with me. Several times, looking at his blue suitcase, I said: “Karel, why are you travelling with such heavy suitcase?”
It was not difficult for me to imagine him smiling before answering my question.
Karel is gone but his kindness, his smile, his wisdom, his competence, made a difference in the lives of many. The Lord he had served all his life with love, has welcomed him into his rest. The crown of glory is ready for him.
Your husband dear Dana, your father dear Elana, dear Eva, dear Jana, gave his life to serve God and his neighbor. His example and his faith will be your strength and your hope.
By God’s grace, dear Dana, you and your daughters, all the family and friends, we will meet our beloved Karel again.
We will see again his smile, his kindness.
According to Jesus’ promise, we will meet him again, we don’t know when but, if we stay faithful as he was, we will meet him again. For sure we will meet him again, not for one day but for eternity.
--John Graz, IRLA Secretary General