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“To Hold the Hand of the Dying”

Rae Lindgren was a longtime donor to Bethel Seminary San Diego. She passed away in 2016.

Adrienne Aguirre S’03 reflects on a special relationship she had with donor Rae Lindgren while working at Bethel Seminary San Diego.

I came to know the Lord after having my daughter, Desirée, when I was in high school. She was my motivation for going to college—and the Holy Spirit was my inspiration for continuing my education at Bethel Seminary San Diego.

I had no idea why God was calling me to seminary, but I knew for certain that He was. I also had no idea how I’d pay for it as a single mom. But people told me that if I was meant to go to Bethel, God would provide. Like many students here, I held on to that belief. And He did provide, through the generosity of donors, every term that I was here. Today I’m a writer, a hospice chaplain, and a fundraiser helping the next generation of Bethel students with their tuition.

One of the many donors who contributed to my education during the four years I worked on my Master of Arts in Theological Studies was Rae Lindgren. Rae began faithfully donating to Bethel in 1994, wanting to help students who in turn would help others. Little did she know that her investment would one day help her as well. 

I met Rae in July 2015 when I went to work for Bethel Seminary San Diego Dean Arnell Motz in the development office. I learned that Rae not only gave to Bethel over the last 20 years of her life, but also made plans to leave her money to Bethel when she died. Arnell told me that Rae was in her 90s, widowed, had no children, and her family lived out of state. Then he added that even though Rae’s family lived out of state, Rae was a part of the Bethel family and we needed to look out for her. I checked in with Rae by phone, visited her, and took her to the restaurant where she had once spent date nights and anniversaries with her late husband, Warren. She often spoke about dying, but was not afraid. Rae’s concern was that the students of Bethel would be taken care of after she was gone.

When Bethel learned that Rae was in the hospital, I visited her every day to minister to her. When she was moved to hospice care, I stayed by her side. One night when I was visiting, I asked one of the nurses to check her vitals. Everything seemed stable and normal, but when the nurse listened to Rae’s lungs, she jumped back a bit and said, “Whoa! That was weird. Hold on; let me check again.”

She readjusted the stethoscope, put it back on Rae’s chest, closed her eyes, and smiled while she listened. “There’s music playing in her lungs,” she said. I asked if Rae was humming in her sleep. “No, there are metal instruments playing,” she said. “I’ve witnessed many miracles as a hospice nurse. This is a new one.”

I thought about the Scriptures that speak of trumpets blasting to call the congregations together or to call people home to be with the Lord. I knew this was the sign I needed from God to tell me to stay put. I read Scriptures to Rae about eternity in paradise and played hymns on my phone about the assurance of salvation as she journeyed peacefully into heaven.

I felt blessed to preside over Rae’s service and help minister to her family and friends. I never thought I would do this work, and I couldn’t have done it without the education I received at Bethel and the financial support of donors like Rae.

I love being a hospice chaplain. It’s such a blessing and a privilege to hold the hand of a dying person when God takes them by the other. 

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