David Burkholder’s Funeral and Invitation

David Burkholder’s funeral was a wonderful experience  of people testifying  to what God had spoken to them through David’s life.  There were testimonies by family and colleagues in ministry; by rich and poor, by black and white, by Pentecostal , Charismatic, Mennonite and Amish. There was testimony and song and prayer and celebration.  We thanked God for the example of this man of faith. We prayed for the complete healing of Eugene Leid, a young man whom David had felt had the calling and anointing to continue his gift of personal evangelism.  However Eugene had a serious accident which left him with serious brain injury.  While he has improved he has not recovered. And so we prayed and agreed together for a miracle of complete healing for Eugene.

David had planned his funeral for over five years. He wanted his funeral to express what his life was about: the good news of salvation for all his “sinner friends.”   David was encouraged to preach his own funeral sermon, so he wrote his sermon several years ago and he preached it at  his funeral via video. Each person at the funeral service was given a booklet of David’s teachings on evangelism and a transcript of his funeral message.

As moderator of the service, at one point I referred to an article about Tim Tebow written by Ross Douthat, a New York Times columnist.  Douthat says the following in his article:

“Why is Tim Tebow such a fascinating and polarizing figure? Not just because he claims to be religious; that claim is commonplace among football stars and ordinary Americans alike. Rather, it’s because his conduct — kind, charitable, chaste, guileless — seems to actually vindicate his claim to be in possession of a life-altering truth.


Nothing discredits religion quite like the gap that often yawns between what believers profess and how they live. With Tebow, that gap seems so narrow as to be invisible. 

(“There’s not an ounce of artifice or phoniness or Hollywood in this kid Tebow,” ESPN’s Rick Reilly wrote last year of the quarterback’s charitable works, “and I’ve looked everywhere for it.”) 
He fascinates, in part, because he behaves — at least in public, and at least for now — the way one would expect more Christians to behave if their faith were really true.


But the fascination doesn’t end there. Tebow’s religion doesn’t just promise a path to personal transformation. It claims that every human life is actually a story with an Author, and that a genuinely Christian life should make that divine Authorship manifest.”

David Burkholder was in possession of such a “life altering truth.”

At the end of the service I gave a final invitation. I said, ” Now David is gone and Eugene has not yet been healed.  Who will stand in the gap? Who is willing to live  life with a new abandon that makes “the divine Authorship manifest” to the world around us?”

Over 100 people enthusiastically stood to their feet in response to this invitation.

At the grave side a minister knelt alone after the crowd had departed.  I asked him what was happening. He responded, “I am determined as a result of the testimony of David’s life to give myself more completely to my wonderful Savior and Lord.”

I am anticipating that the fruit of David’s life will be infinitely more than the 300 people he personally led to the Lord. As each person attending the funeral rises up and lives as one with a “life-altering truth” , the world will be changed as multiplied thousands hear and respond to the gospel in our lives.

A second funeral service or shall we say, memorial service, will be held in memory of David on Sunday evening April 15, 2012, at LifeGate Church, 5636 Bossler Road,Elizabethtown, PA 17022 (etownlifegate.org)  This service will provide opportunity for many more to celebrate God’s word to us through the life of Dr. David H. Burkholder.
Here is a link to an interview with David about two weeks before his death. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF4w8syNXlk
-E. Daniel


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