Today the world woke up to the tragic news of Julian Cadman’s death, a seven year old boy from Lalor Park, NSW. Many have spoken out against the merciless nature of his murder; one that was carried out to inflict terror, chaos and destruction upon humanity. Wind back the clock to 17th August, 2017 and media coverage came in thick and fast to tell of a van that had ploughed through a pedestrian mall filled with tourists and locals that had killed 13 and injured more than 100 victims in La Ramblas, Barcelona.
I admit that I was a bit numb when I first heard the news. Almost despondent. Over time, I had become so accustomed to hearing of ‘yet another terrorist attack’ that moral fatigue well and truly set in. Since 7 January, 2015, there have been 21 reported attacks, with the last one in London on 3 June, 2017 and I don’t recall expending much emotional effort as an initial response. Reportage of each new attack would be announced and met with a stingy and short-lived compassion. Typically, I would think to myself, “oh, how sad” and within seconds move my attention to whatever happens to grab me next, discarding the notion of human life at stake as though it were a used and soggy tissue.
— Daniel César (@DanielCesar94) August 17, 2017
However, it was not until I received a message to pray for a young boy missing, along with his critically injured mother that it became apparent how close to home this was becoming. My friend was the uncle of Julian Cadman, and his whole life was about to change. For many years I had come to know this really funny guy who was kind, gentle and compassionate towards others. Back in the day, we worked together in the college department of our local church, shared the same connect group and even both enjoyed a drop of red at the occasional pot luck. This searingly hot summer that almost suffocated everyone in Western Sydney saw us often bumping into each other at our local shops for some relief in the cool air conditioning. We both knew of life in ‘Sevo’, having lived in 2147 for as long as I can remember.
And then suddenly his brother Andrew had rushed to Spain to see his wife Jumarie in hospital and search for their beloved Julian. Only yesterday, before confirmation of his death was announced this morning, my friend wrote me in a message, “really love and miss my nephew.” And that’s when I broke. Terrorism became real. The senseless death that these atrocious acts brought was no longer a sensationalist soundbite veiled behind a TV news anchor or black inky words in a newspaper. My dear friend, along with his brother, sister-in-law and their parents would now have to come to terms with life without their Julian. They have to walk the painful and heart-wrenching journey of knowing that their innocent boy’s life was taken in a moment of human evil and life will never be the same again.
When I look at Julian’s gorgeous little face, I see our son Elias. I see the same cheeky boy who brings joy and laughter to everyone around him – a hundred times over his parents. What do you see when you peer at Julian’s photo, as the whole world becomes acquainted with this life that no longer is? Perhaps your son, nephew, cousin, or the same kids you see at weekend sports, school fetes and recitals. As this family grieves their loss, we also grieve, struck by the stark reality that it could’ve been any one of us. It could’ve been our boy. Our little treasures we wake up to everyday.
I cannot begin to imagine the pain the Cadmans feel. There are simply no words to describe the overwhelming anguish when a precious life is lost. We can only lift our eyes to heaven and look to our God, our Source of peace and comfort while we cry our cries and hold our aching hearts. We may never come to fully understand why lives continue to be taken at the hands of those who plan vile and inhumane things. In deep sorrow, our why turns to who and that Who is Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. When life makes no sense and provides no answers to the unfairness and injustice it often brings, we stop shouting questions in grief and simply turn to Jesus because there’s nowhere else to turn.
For whatever religious, political or social reason these terror-inspired events happen, we can only counter the hatred with a declaration of faith, hope and love:
- We declare that we will stand strong and courageous in faith, believing for peace in the midst of war and light to eclipse the shadows of darkness
- We declare that we will hope for the best in humanity, and not the worst despite what we have seen and heard
- We declare that we will live united as citizens of earth with only one race – the human race – letting the love of Christ, a love that transcends all languages, be our guide in every thought, word and deed
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences for the Cadman family, while their little Julian looks downward from heaven. For anyone else who has been affected by recent or previous terrorist events, we pray for comfort, peace and strength.