My Impending Death

The title of this article should be Our Impending Deaths, because we all have one foot in the grave. I am not dying right now in the traditional sense, but we are all dying and decaying every day until the point where our hearts stop pumping, our brains stop firing and our lungs stop expanding. As Job 13:28 says, “So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.” I am not a morbid person, but there are times in my life when I think about the end.

Sometimes I talk too much about Heaven with my wife and she tells me to stop it because it means I am going to die which she finds disconcerting. While I do not want to die, I do like the idea of Heaven. My favorite book on the subject is Imagine Heaven: Near-Death Experiences, God’s Promises, and the Exhilarating Future That Awaits You by John Burke. My wife found this book while standing in line at the drugstore. It was sitting in the little spin-around book rack that has Christian books in it. Normally, this would be enough to turn me off completely as a book snob, but I needed something to read on the beach one summer and there it was. 

Imagine Heaven detailed many near-death experiences by people who were resuscitated back to life and told the story of their experience going to Heaven or Hell. It was pretty gripping stuff that the author related directly to scriptures that jived with their accounts.

It turned out to be one of my favorite books and reminded me of one of my other favorite books titled, Deadline by Randy Alcorn, a fictional mystery in which the people who keep getting murdered go to Heaven and meet Jesus. Maybe my wife is right and I do like death and/or Heaven too much. I just find it to be something to look forward to. No more taxes, no more reality shows, and no more political shenanigans by the usual suspects. Heaven sounds more amazing with each word I type!

In my last article I mentioned that last year I presided over a funeral, and although it made me sad to see people miss their loved one, I was glad to support them in such a difficult time. The man who passed away wrote his own obituary. I thought that was a brilliant idea and rather than leave this duty for my loved ones to figure out and potentially get wrong, I decided to follow his example and write my own obituary which I have included below. I hope that you enjoy it and that this gives you food for thought on how to live the life you have left, how you want to be remembered and a reminder to prepare for the afterlife. You might even want to write your own obituary. Please don’t feel sad reading this or when I actually do kick the bucket, because my life was blessed, filled with adventure and in between all the tough times, filled with loving family, friends and laughter. Also, I know where I am going and it makes this place look like chopped liver.

Juan Galloway


1970 – ?

Juan Carlos Ricardo Galloway was born very caucasian yet with a very Spanish set of names in San Francisco in 1970. He was born on 7-11-70 during which his parents, Richard and Dixie Galloway were running a 7-11 convenience store in Pacifica, CA. Later on he was blessed with a younger brother, Mike and sister Rachel.

Soon after, his parents moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to start their own chain of convenience stores. When he was 10 they encountered the life changing power of Jesus Christ, were radically transformed and started taking Juan to church. At the age of 11 they moved to the Virgin Islands to do missionary work and became a healthy family. It was at this time that Juan gave his heart to Christ.

The family moved from the Virgin Islands to San Juan, Puerto Rico and then later to Dallas, TX. It was here that Juan finished his last 2 ½ years of high school and met the love of his life, Tracy Lucia. It was also here that Juan discovered his other passion, writing and playing music. Juan was a guitar nerd who was obsessed with rock n roll. Over his lifetime he literally wrote hundreds of songs that he performed all over the world.

At the age of 18, Juan had a supernatural experience in which the Holy Spirit fell on him and revealed the nagging question in his heart-what was he supposed to do with his life? God made it clear that his purpose in life was to tell others about Jesus. At that moment this neurotically insecure teenager was transformed. He began to do street evangelism on the streets of downtown Dallas and lead people to Christ every time that he went out. 

After high school, Juan attended Christ For The Nations Bible Institute where he met with some skaters who together started his first band, Sanctified Noise. The highlight of their three-year punk rock career was playing at Cornerstone Music Festival in Illinois. Also during his CFNI years, Juan began to do outreach to people struggling with homelessness. He fed and prayed for many. Other students became interested and began to join him for weekly outreaches.

In 1991, Juan moved to New Jersey to join his parents Richard and Dixie who had started a Christian outreach organization to people suffering from homelessness called New York City Relief. Tracy joined him in New Jersey and they were married in 1992. After working some entry level jobs there for a year, they moved to California to find jobs in youth ministry.

They finally found a job as youth pastors at New Life Church in Redwood City, CA and led The Blast youth group there for the next 3 ½ years. It was during that time that Juan led a youth mission team to Tijuana, Mexico and was so dramatically impacted that he would go on to do missions in many other countries over his lifetime including Colombia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Finland, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Haiti and the Philippines. During that stint Juan also started an outreach band called Echoplex that performed all over the bay area. 

The most important thing to happen during their years in northern California was the birth of his daughters River and Hailey, who he adored.

In 1998, Juan and Tracy moved to work as youth pastors at The Gathering Place church in Hackettstown, New Jersey. There they led the U-Turn youth group and started a youth club with regular concerts and a skatepark. During ten years of youth ministry, Juan and Tracy ran many camps and retreats and took many youth around the world doing missions. During this season, their sons Corban and Connor were born. 

In 2002, Juan was asked to join the staff at New York City Relief as an urban missionary. He and Tracy joined up and moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey to start East Coast School of Urban Ministry. They also started CityTribe Church in the garage of the base at NYCR and went on to help plant three other churches in Paterson and Elizabeth. Three of the churches catered to the poor and houseless while The Noise Hip Hop Church ministered to and through hip hop culture.

Juan went on to serve as Director of Communications at NYCR and in 2010 he was asked to take the role of President/CEO. He worked there for over 20 years and was happy to help grow the impact of NYCR to bring help and hope to friends living on the streets. One of his favorite parts was connecting the body of Christ to people challenged with homelessness and watching God’s presence manifest in the encounter.  Juan loved speaking at churches and conferences to tell the story of God’s heart for the poor while challenging the church at large to come meet Jesus through the least, the last and the lost.

Juan wrote multiple books while at NYCR including God’s Beggars, The Street Bible, Provoked and Imagine If You Were Homeless. He wrote countless articles for magazines, newspapers and his own blog. Juan recorded multiple podcasts including his favorite, 36 Questions, with his wife Tracy.

The most meaningful part of Juan’s life was his love affair with his wife Tracy and the joy of being with his children River, Hailey, Corban and Connor. Juan fulfilled his dream of starting a family band with his children and of taking each to do missions trips together. Being close to Tracy and his four children was his greatest treasure.

Juan believed that the measure of a man’s life was how he loved others and he made it his life’s goal to grow in that regard. He wishes to be remembered as someone who loved Christ above all and endeavored to live out the truth of the Word of God which he consumed ravenously and regularly. 

Most people are made out to be angels at their funerals, but Juan was no angel. He had plenty of character flaws and weaknesses like everyone else, so don’t bother putting him up on a pedestal. If you knew every dumb thing he ever did, you would feel a lot better about yourself.

If Juan accomplished anything of significance in life, he would chalk it all up to grace. He always said that this scripture summed up his life,

“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:26-29‬ ‭NLT‬‭‭

If you are reading this obituary and are unsure of what the meaning of life is or where you will spend eternity when your life is over, he wishes that you would allow God to fill your life with purpose, meaning and joy by entering into a relationship with Jesus. To Juan, Jesus was everything.

I will close with this verse which sums his life and death all up, “And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:20-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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Death On The Streets & Hope For The Future

Recently I helped officiate at the funeral of the father of a good friend of our family. I was honored to say some words of comfort and encouragement to all of the loved ones of this very accomplished man. He wrote his own obituary and it was so inspiring to me that I even followed his example by writing my own.

I have been a minister for many years and I have always told people that I much prefer officiating at funerals rather than weddings. It’s not that I don’t like weddings. It’s just that funerals are an appropriate moment for people to think about death, life and eternity–even for those who don’t consider themselves “religious.” I like to speak into that moment to give comfort, hope and direction on how to prepare for their own death one day. I also like to be there in a time of great need for those who are mourning and need someone to stand up for them in a time of great difficulty.

Juan and friend at Harlem outreach

It’s a gift to me to be of service. I think that’s why I like working at New York City Relief. We get to be there for people during the worst moments of their lives.


I once knew a Haitian man named Freddie who lived in an abandoned building across the street from the New York City Relief headquarters in Elizabeth, NJ. He attended the church I pastored, and I remember imploring him to let me help him get off of the streets. Unfortunately, he didn’t take me up on my offer and one night, Freddie had a seizure in that abandoned building and passed away. I held a funeral service for Freddie and all of his family came to celebrate his life, including a daughter I didn’t even know existed. We sang hymns in Creole, ate Haitian beef patties and I shared the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. Seven people responded to choose to follow Christ and together we found beauty in ashes.

Even in sorrow, we can find hope. It makes me think of this verse from Psalm 9:18

 “God will never forget the needy;

    the hope of the afflicted will never perish.”

Shocking Statistics

Recently, I read an article about the number of people living on the streets who died in New York City last year. Shockingly, the number of deaths of people experiencing homelessness rose by a staggering 39% over the previous year. From July 2018 to June 2019, 404 people living on the streets passed away.

The number of deaths of people experiencing homelessness rose by a staggering 39%.

Many of these individuals are buried in a potters field on Hart Island, located a few miles offshore from the Bronx. Wikipedia says, “The remains of more than one million people are buried on Hart Island. The dead are buried in trenches. Adults are placed in larger pine boxes placed according to size, and are stacked in sections of 150, measuring three coffins deep in two rows. Inmates from the Rikers Island jail are paid $0.50 per hour to bury bodies on Hart Island.”

The top five causes of deaths of people living on the streets last year were drugs, heart disease, alcoholism, accidents and cancer. Ten of the people committed suicide. The facts are that if you don’t have a place to call home, your life will be shortened by 20 to 30 years. It is tragic for these precious souls to pass away in such dire straits and hidden in anonymity–almost like they never existed. Once upon a time, these men and women were born to parents so eager for their beautiful babies to accomplish their hopes and dreams and experience a wonderful life.

Seeing A Brighter Future

I think it is important to remember the lives of those who died in a state of homelessness in order to acknowledge their value and remember that they are precious in the eyes of God. I believe that this can give us inspiration and courage to do something about those people who are still alive and trying to survive on the streets right now. We don’t have to wait until a funeral comes to honor someone.

NYCR volunteers making friends during outreach

The motto of New York City Relief was borrowed from the United States Airforce Pararescue. It says, “These things we do, that others may live.” I invite you to join us on the streets to build a life-giving relationship with someone who might feel very alone. Show them they matter by giving them your time and a listening ear. We’ll do the trickier part of connecting them to physical resources that they can use to get off of the streets. This is just one way you can help our friends on the streets see a brighter future. 

To volunteer, visit our website at newyorkcityrelief.org/volunteer

Please consider partnering with us by making a gift to help people see a brighter future at newyorkcityrelief.org/donate

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