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Jack's Story: Faith, Courage and Trust.

Psalm 118
Give thanks to the LORD , for He is good;
His love endures forever.
... I cried to the LORD, and
He answered by setting me free.

Jack is free... Hallelujah!

Jack (John Roy Farrell, Jr.) died September 10 at 9:15AM after a long battle with brain cancer chronicled below. It was a battle he fought with faith, courage and trust in the will of his Lord Jesus. Jack's favorite scripture was Psalm 118. The selected verses above are engraved on the urn containing his ashes. Jack was set free, and we rejoice over that but there is a big emptiness in our hearts. Jack never complained, was never depressed, nor felt sorry for himself. His trademark "thumbs up" became his sign language for "doing good!, hi!, goodbye!, Hallelujah!, Praise God!, etc." All his communication that was friendly, positive and/or glorified God came to be signalled by that gesture. His memory was honored at a worship service at Freedom Christian Church on Friday, September 12 at 7PM. A standing room only crowd of family and friends celebrated his life in praise and worship of his Lord Jesus. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his name to the church. Donations will be used to fund youth ministries that meant so much to Jack.

The first and final chapters of Jack's story are about love. God first loved Jack. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. NIV Jesus gifted Jack with His love in this world and eternal life with Himself. John 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. NIV Jack's faith, courage and trust are the fruit of his love for his Lord, and those to whom the Lord sent him. The scripture describing this love is from Mark 12:29-31 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." NIV Jack's love was acted out, not talked about. The stories being revealed of the love he showed to so many and of his generosity are of great pride to the family but glorify the Lord he served. If you have stories you want to share with the family and friends, please send us an e-mail.

Rabbi Cohen wrote us we are not mourning the dead that has gone on to a better place, we are mourning ourselves who are still here awaiting our opportunity to go home. Amen! As we mourn, we are mindful of Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. NIV Throughout this entire experience, the Lord has been telling us not to let Satan steal our joy and gladness so we focus on the joy He provides each day, and overlook everything else. This was an important part of the support we were blessed to provide Jack, and is now important in our support of each other in our mourning. We are so thankful that he was part of our lives for 30 years, 7 months and 1 day, and will remain in our hearts forever. Hallelujah! 

Goober's Garden - pictures of Jack's Memorial Flower Garden
Jack's Song - by John & Linda Abato
music sheet

Baltimore Sun death notice
Baltimore Sun
Celebration of Life

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Favorite Scripture Jack's Slogan
Visitors Welcome September 10 Story
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BACKGROUND: Jack had a brain tumor. He had surgery and radiation treatments in 1998. At that time it was an oligodendroglioma, which the doctor said had likely been growing since childhood. In 2002, routine examination found there was new tumor growth. By this time, the doctors said it likely had changed to an astrocytoma tumor, which is faster growing. Jack did not have another biopsy to know exactly what type or stage it had become because the treatment options were the same. The MRI's provided the needed information to guide the doctors and show us what was going on. Chemotherapy treatment #1 in the Fall did not stop the growth. Chemo treatment #2 in the Winter did not stop the growth either. His doctors advised that re-radiation was the next best treatment but at the end of May Jack decided not to undergo re-radiation.

Jack never failed to believe that God would heal him. He completely trusted in God's will for his life. Jack's faith and trust carried him through his first surgery and radiation treatments, and through each new day thereafter. He always had a positive attitude and never complained or worried about tomorrow. His thoughts about the future were always "what will happen after I'm healed?" Jack never gave up the hope for his future. Please know that God cared and provided for Jack's needs through every time of trial in his life. He lived with his family who loveed and supported him but the Lord clearly cared and provided for Jack's needs. Jesus was glorified by Jack's life and the faith and confidence he had to the very end of his life.

On Friday, June 27, Jack's neuro-oncology doctor at Johns Hopkins advised us that the seizures, nausea, and headaches Jack was having were signs that the tumor growth was building pressure in the head, and he only had a short time left. In their experience, short meant days to weeks, not months. This doctor and his team are among the world's leading cancer specialists, treating many, many patients, with caring and compassionate hearts. Their advice was offered to assure that Jack would receive the best possible care, which we have been blessed to give him with their support and the support of Jack's neurologist. The entire group of doctors and the hospice medical team have blessed Jack with their care and compassion. We boast in the Lord for his grace over Jack, and are thankful for the joy and gladness provided each day.
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E-mail: send Jack's family messages at or click here

Scripture: Jack's favorite scripture was Psalm 118 Donna & John remain standing on scripture in Hebrews 3, 4 & 10
Hebrews 3:13-14 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first, and Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. NIV HINT - every scripture reference on this web site is linked to to read the verse online.

Slogan: "If Jack is doing good, We're all doing good!" [click here to see the sign Susan made for Jack]

Visitors: To those who want to visit the family, we love visitors! Many read these stories and think "Oh, they're so busy, or they need their time alone, or there's no free time for me to stop by..." The reality is these thoughts aren't true. All we ask is that you call first to be sure the timing is good. Everyone always asks, "what can we do for you or what do you need?" The most appreciated gift is your time and a chance to celebrate his life together. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. NLT.
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Daily stories: go to September 1
Wednesday, September 10:
Jack's breathing became erratic around 7:30AM. At 9:15AM, he stopped breathing and died. Our faith is certain that Jack's soul has gone to heaven to be with Jesus, and with his grandmother. When his grandmother died in August 2000, we found a poem in her papers titled Safely Home, which is also appropriate for Jack. He is safely home, and his struggles are over. On the time scale of eternity, we will see him soon. Hallelujah!
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Tuesday, September 9: Psalm 43:1-3 How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble. The LORD will protect him and keep him alive, And he shall be called blessed upon the earth; And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies. The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed; In his illness, You restore him to health. NASB Jack slept through the night with periodic coughing from congestion. Please continue to pray that he will eat and drink "enough" today. He had a blood sample taken to check his dilantin level, which three weeks ago was so high but quickly dropped into the normal range. His body continues to eliminate waste, which is an encouraging sign. Jack had visitors in the early afternoon when Barbara, Susan and Linda prayed and worshiped with him and Donna. After that, he struggled through the rest of the day with his breathing and congestion. Pastor Chris and Amy visited in the evening during which he had to receive morphine and sedative to stabilize his breathing. By midnight, he was stable, and he slept peacefully through the night. Jesus touched Jack at 2 times during the night to deliver him to the next morning. The first was between 8 and 9PM, and the second was aroung 3AM. We believe Jack was healed during the night as God promised. The signs and power of the Spirit were unmistakable. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
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Monday, September 8: In the early morning, Jack is sleeping after a restless night because of congestion. Please pray for Jack to be able to eat and drink "enough" each day. He gave us a "thumbs up" when we cleaned him up this morning, and another in late afternoon. He is a little more responsive today, and has eaten more than yesterday, with less coughing. Hallelujah! Hebrews 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. NIV The evening was a time of worship with singing and prayer. Jack was holding our hands, thanking and praising God along with the music. Hallelujah!
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Sunday, September 7: Jack started the day by smiling at us as we got him ready for the day. It was the same smile he gets on his face when he walks into Freedom Christian Church, which is where we all were in spirit this morning. The scripture for today is from Romans 8: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us... For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. NIV Amen! Amy and Erin visited Jack today. What a joy! He gave them a "thumbs up" when they left. Please pray for Jack to be able to eat and drink tomorrow. He only had a little food and drink yesterday, and even less today. Liquids choke him, and solids he doesn't swallow very well, and when he does, he coughs a lot out. In the evening, he was quiet but gave a "thumbs up" to signal Amen after we prayed with him. Thank you, Lord!
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Saturday, September 6: The day started quietly after a peaceful and restful night for all in the house. Jack ate and drank a little this morning. He can only take liquids slowly and a little at a time. He can take solids like mashed fruit more readily so that's what he gets, and what he likes. Scripture for today cames from Lori: Psalm 5:1-3 & 11-12 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD , you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O LORD , you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. NIV Amen! Jack wasn't very responsive until Amy and Emily visited in the afternoon. He quickly gave the "thumbs up" greeting to show his delight in their visit. In the evening, instead of reading scripture and praying as we usually do, we were led to worship to music and then pray. The Spirit was interceding for Jack as written in Romans 8:26 ... the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words NASB Jack was very peaceful, not suffering in any way. He would groan and then reach out to gently hold our hands, holding tightly to the Tzit Tzit on the Tallit, and was worshiping by holding his thumb up and raising his arm as his way of singing Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
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Friday, September 5: Jack slept peacefully through the night. At 6AM, he arm wrestled to tell us he's "doing good." We look forward to the new day with the new joys and gladness promised for today. Scripture today is from Warren, our beloved brother-in-Christ: Philippians 1: Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. I always pray for you, and I make my requests with a heart full of joy because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again. It is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a very special place in my heart. NLT Warren is one of the saints referred to in Psalm 16:3 As for the saints who are in the earth, They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight. NASB Jack (Donna and John, too!!) certainly does delight in the majestic ones the Lord has surrounded him with... Praise the Lord!
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Thursday, September 4: At 6AM, Jack was sound asleep, snoring in peace. Yesterday's prayers were answered. Extraordinary Grace was received. Glory to God! The Wednesday distress cycle was broken. We can't say anything any better than from Psalm 116:1-2 I love the LORD, beacause He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore, I shall call upon Him as long as I live, and from Hebrews 3: ...fix your thoughts on Jesus... Christ is faithful... if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. NASB Hallelujah!
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Wednesday, September 3: At 5AM, as the new day approaches, Jack arm wrestles to say he's "doing good." He has slept well during the night. At 7AM, he gives Homer a "thumbs up" to say he's feeling better, and Donna a "thumbs up" to say "good morning, Mom!" We pray that today will be covered in extraordinary Grace. The last several Wednesday's have been days of great distress for Jack. O Lord, break the cycle and deliver Jack from his afflictions! Amen and Hallelujah! Today's scriptures are from Hebrews 3: Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. NIV Amy came to visit today with her children, who sang for Jack. What a joy for Jack and Donna! Later in the afternoon, Linda visited and Jack got his feet rubbed... also a joy for Jack! He ALWAYS gives Linda a "thumbs up" when she asks if he wants his feet rubbed. While Linda was here, Nurse Todd visited for a physical exam. PRAISE REPORT! Jack's condition is very stable. His blood pressure has dropped to normal levels. His heart is strong, and his breathing is clear. He doesn't need the oxygen any longer. Hallelujah!
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Tuesday, September 2: Jack was restless during the night and early morning. He kept pulling off the oxygen tube and we kept putting it back on, so... he went through the afternoon without it but accepted it before dinnertime. He isn't talking much but he is squeezing hands and arm wrestling to tell us he's "doing good." He continues to eat and drink a lot but he struggles to swallow at times. Jack was restless during evening prayers but said "Amen!" at the end, probably his first clear words all day. Hallelujah! The psalm today for the mighty warrior is Psalm 108:12-13 Oh give us help against the adversary, For deliverance by man is in vain. Through God we will do valiantly, And it is He who shall tread down our adversaries. NASB
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Monday, September 1: Jack had another quiet and peaceful night. Not much has changed in the past couple days. He coughs a lot when he drinks, and a little when he eats. The good news is he is drinking and eating, and his body is eliminating its wastes. Yesterday morning, he was pulling the oxygen tube out of his nose so we let him go a while without it. After a while it was clear he was more comfortable with the breathing help so we put it back. He seems to agree as he isn't fussing with it anymore. The psalm for today is from Psalm 143:1,8,&10 Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications! Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness! Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. NASB At the end of June, September seemed like an eternity away but here it is. Hallelujah! On Friday night, and every morning since, Jack is hailed as the Lord's mighty warrior battling as Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. NASB Hallelujah! Jack was visited at mid-day by his grandfather Farrell and step-grandmother, Micki. Jack was not very responsive during their visit. Amy visited in the evening, when Jack was very responsive, giving her a "thumbs up" and opening his left eye. He didn't have anything to say but he listened to Amy's stories of the church picnic, which was a blessed day, for sure. We all look forward to being there next year! Hallelujah!
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