Leaves for Healing (On Neal Barlow’s Passing)

The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse.

-Revelation 22:2-3

I hate the coronavirus. Many will die today from it, but today is the first day someone I know died. My brother in Christ Neal Barlow is at home with the Lord. Neal was our newest elder at Green Pond Bible Chapel. We are grieving the loss of our brother, and mourning with the entire Barlow family. We prayed for Neal to be healed in the short run, but the Lord has seen fit to heal him for eternity.

Feeling the loss of Neal, I am angry at sin’s destructive effect on the world. Neal is the closest COVID-19 death to me by far, but I know that thousands are mourning lost loved ones and thousands more will in the days to come. If it wasn’t coronavirus it would be influenza, or heart disease, or cancer. Death is a stubborn reality in our world because of the curse of sin, and today it hurts.

Even as we prayed for Neal to respond to treatment, we were aware that such healing would only be temporary. The healing he needed, and we need, is a permanent healing. This is the hope of the gospel: by faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection we are not only forgiven of our sins, but we are promised a physical existence with him in resurrected bodies.

The New Jerusalem will be filled with those who have been eternally healed. I thought of the New Jerusalem—of the tree of life lining both sides of the river flowing from the throne of God. I thought of the leaves of the tree of life:

The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse.

Neal’s spirit is at rest with the Lord until the resurrection. On that day there will no longer be any wicked viruses. No need for dialysis. No ventilators, no protective masks. The church, gathered from the nations, will be healed. There will no longer be any curse.

On that day there won’t be any grieving families and friends, mourning the lack of vaccines. There won’t be frustrated doctors and nurses who lack the research, manpower, or equipment to provide relief. There will no longer be any curse.

On that day there won’t be any finger pointing at politicians or media-spin. We won’t struggle with a self-centered survival instinct. There won’t be any mourning or depression. There will no longer be any curse.

Neal became a follower of Christ as an adult. As he grew in his faith, his life transformed dramatically. I first met him back in 2011 when we moved to New Jersey. He had a dry, quick wit, and was good at making me laugh. Over time we recognized Neal’s heart for shepherding. He joined our shepherding team and just this January began serving as an elder. We will miss him as a shepherd, and as a friend.

Neal was loving serving as an elder. He was recently reading Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem with some other elders and elders in training, and he commented on how much he was enjoying learning more about God. He has graduated. He no longer has to deal with a broken body. For Neal, as of today, there is no longer any curse.

Published by Ryan Boys

Ryan serves as the Senior Pastor of Green Pond Bible Chapel in Rockaway, New Jersey. He is married with four children.

15 thoughts on “Leaves for Healing (On Neal Barlow’s Passing)

  1. My heart is so so sad at the loss of our dear brother and leader of our care group. Neil was a sweet and sensitive leader who loved the Lord and loved us. He will always be remembered I am so grateful that his faith is now realized as he is with our king Jesus!

    1. Lovingly and accurately said my sister Phyllis; l too am thankful to have known Neal in the Sunday aftn caregroup. Yes, his quick wit was still there, however more focused on serving Jesus, by serving us. I pray for comfort to be with the Barlow family, Amen…

    1. To The Barlow Family: How hard it for us to lose a Husband, Father, Grandfather. My prayer is that God will give you the necessary comfort and strength that you need at this sorrowful time.

  2. Our prayers in Christian love go out your family. Prayers for comfort, peace and strength. With much love.

  3. Greg and Brenda Breitz send our sincere condolences and promises of prayer for Neal’s family. So glad to hear of Neal’s tender walk with the Lord.

  4. Broken hearted to hear the news of Neal’s passing. A kind, gentle man who loved God & loved people. Great sense of humor. Beautiful family. Sending love and praying that God will wrap his arms tightly around Jen, children, & grandchildren.through this walk. Rejoicing with the family in his home going. A good friend to all. Well done Neal, rest easy.

    1. Beautiful words for a truly beautiful person. We will miss him, but as in our earthly existence our paths will cross again in the here after.
      Mark and Carol O’Connor

  5. Dearest Jen and family. What a blessing it was to know Neal. We are saddened that we can’t have the opportunity to be around such a gracious and good man. But so happy that he had the walk with our Savior and Lord and is with Jesus. Our love sent.

  6. Sending this note with sadness of heart, and our condolences to Jennifer and family. One day we will be able to shake hands again like we used to at Greenpond Bible Chapel when Neil and Jen sat behind us. He has gone ahead of us and, to his forever home going, heard the words, well done good and faithful servant. Shalom

  7. Neal and I have been co-workers and friends for over 20 years. He was a Christian big brother to me. Neal was one of a kind and shall never be forgotten.
    He wasn’t sure if he was worthy of becoming an elder. I told him that he would be the perfect elder. I told him that I knew he loved the Lord and Our Savior was calling him serve.
    He listened and prayed with me all the time. Whether I was driving or sitting in my office Neal would listen and pray with me over my prayer requests. I have been suffering over various issues for some time. Neal and I would talk several times a week. Always asking me first how I was doing. Always putting others before himself, giving of his time and comforting with supportive words.
    Neal’s wit was one of his talents in making you feel at ease and open up. Neal and I spent many hours in our hotel rooms when traveling talking and praying for each other and our needs. During our last meeting together he had not yet been chosen as an elder of your church. We talked for hours about God’s calling to take the next step. He wasn’t sure that he knew his scriptures well enough and I told him God will give you the scriptures and words to say to your flock that you would shepherd.
    Neal loved the Lord and I can’t express enough how much your elder and my brother in Christ talked me and walked me through some of the deepest valleys in my life. Neal will be missed while we are here on this earth. I have lost a great friend, yet I know he is resting in Heaven and awaiting us all to see him some day.
    May Our Lord comfort Jen and her family. Psalm 23

  8. I wanted to add another statement about my dear friend Neal. Back in June 2017 Neal gave me one of my most cherished gifts that I have ever received from him. It was the book “My Utmost for the Highest” by Oswald Chambers. I want to share with you what he wrote to me in the book because it means so much to me.
    “It is comforting to me, as I work through the day, to know you also trust in Jesus. I try to read the day’s writing every morning. It helps me to center my thoughts and prepares me for the day challenges. John 14:13, Matt 11:28, and Rom. 15:13” That is who Neal was and how he will be remembered in that light. Thank you Lord for the time on this earth that I had with my brother. I am a better person for Neal’s challenges and faith that he showed me.

  9. I would like to send my condolences to Neal’s family. I am an old Nikon colleague of Neal’s. I first met Neal in 1991 when we both had our first Nikon training in Melville, Long Island. For the next twenty nine years, I would see Neal once a year at a Nikon meeting. I always looked forward to seeing him. Neal was an intelligent, witty, & funny man. He always had a few good Peter Berbeck stories.
    I sent him an email congratulating him on his retirement. I had no idea he was sick. It made me very sad to hear of his passing.
    He was a good hard working man.
    God Bless his wife Jen, his son’s, and grandchildren.
    Sincerely,
    Tim Mullen

  10. I know I’m a little late to this, but I wanted to add a note about our dear fried Neal. Like Tim and Jay above, I worked closely with Neal at Nikon and was fortunate enough to have known him the better part of the last 5 years. He was my mentor and friend and a wonderful Godly influence. He took the time to train, encourage, and exhort me. Neal always took a personal interest in me and how I was doing mentally and spiritually. I’ll miss his wry humor and his stories, as Tim mentioned.
    I thank God for the time I had with Neal. He taught me so much, and I will miss him dearly. He and Jen were always praying for me and when I got married they prayed for us and our marriage. We felt those prayers because, as James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man [and woman] is powerful and effective.”
    Neal, my friend, you are sorely missed. May God comfort your family in your absence and give them the joy of knowing that you are in His Presence.
    Sincerely and in love,
    -Mike Nelson

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