|Summary: Robertson McQuilkin and Chris Medina are marked by great differences in age, career, educational and religious background. Robertson, in his 70’s, is a former missionary to Japan and university president. Chris, in his 20’s, is a long-haired barista, songwriter, band leader, and American Idol Season 10 contestant. Despite their differences, Robertson and Chris are marked by the same remarkable integrity of character. At great personal sacrifice, they are keeping their promise to the woman they love – Muriel for Robertson, Juliana for Chris.|
Robertson and Muriel: A promise kept
Twenty one years ago, Rev. Robertson C. McQuilkin left his work as president of Columbia International University in South Carolina to take care of his wife, Muriel, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Before his work with Columbia, Robertson and Muriel served as missionaries to Japan for 12 years (1956-1968). Their story, chronicled in “A Promise Kept” by Tyndale House Publishers, has inspired countless number of people. You can read online or download the first chapter of the book.
In the video below, you can hear Robertson’s deeply-moving explanation on why he resigned as president to take care of his beloved wife. In an article by David Boehi, Robertson reflects on his life with Muriel:
“As Alzheimer’s slowly locked away one part of my Muriel, then another, every loss for her shut down a part of me. Ministry was changing, of course, from less public to more private. There was another sense of loss, however, an ache deep inside, as I watched my vivacious companion of the years slip from me.You can listen to and read about Robertson and Muriel’s life from these resources by Family Life:
“Even in this loss, however, I made a wonderful discovery. As Muriel became even more dependent on me, our love seeped to deeper, unknown crevices of the heart. Though she never knew what was happening to her, as I cared for her she responded with gratitude and cheerful contentment.
“It was no great effort to do the loving thing for one who was altogether lovable. My imprisonment turned out to be a delightful liberation to love more fully than I had ever known. We found the chains of confining circumstance to be, not instruments of torture, but bonds to hold us closer.
“But there was even greater liberation’s. It has to do with God’s love. No one ever needed me like Muriel, and no one ever responded to my efforts so totally as she. It’s the nearest thing I’ve experienced on a human plane to what my relationship with God was designed to be: God’s unfailing love poured out in constant care of helpless me.
“Surely he planned that relationship to draw from me the kind of love and gratitude Muriel had for her man. Her insatiable —even desperate —longing to be with me, her quiet confidence in my ability and desire to care for her, a mirror reflection of what my love for God should be.”
Part 1 - My Decision, Part 1: Seminary president Robertson McQuilkin faced the toughest decision of his life. Hear the moving story of how he responded to God and his wife of many years, Muriel. (MP3; PDF)Chris and Juliana: What are words if you really don’t mean them when you say them …
Part 2 - My Decision, Part 2: When his wife’s health deteriorated, seminary president Robertson McQuilkin came home to care for her. Hear how and why he made this important decision. (MP3; PDF)
Part 3 - My Decision, Part 2: Many things have changed since former seminary president Robertson McQuilkin came home to care for his wife Muriel, who suffered from Alzheimer's. Hear how God met them in their hour of need. (MP3; PDF)
Part 4 - Our Future: If you’re caring for an aging or ill loved one, you’ll find encouragement in the lessons learned and lived by former seminary president Robertson McQuilkin. MP3; PDF)
Chris Medina auditioned for American Idol Season 10 at the suggestion of his fiancée Juliana Ramos. They have been together for eight years and engaged for the last three years. They planned to get married two years after their engagement. But on October 2, 2009 (two months before their wedding) Juliana suffered a traumatic brain injury, severe skull fracture, and multiple fractures to her face in a car accident. She was in a coma for one and a half months. Chris chose to stay in the relationship and since then, together with Juliana’s mother, has been taking care of her.
In an American Idol profile, Chris said, “I was about to make vows just two months from the accident … through thick and thin, till death do us part, in sickness and health, for better or worse. What kind of a guy would I be if I walked out when she needed me most?” Through the Internet, Chris and Juliana’s story has inspired millions of people worldwide. Here in the Philippines, some people organized a benefit program to raise funds for Juliana’s medical expenses.
His single “What Are Words” was released on iTunes after his elimination during Hollywood Week. Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, producer of Beyoncé and Britney Spears, wrote the song after he heard Chris and Juliana’s story. The song only reached number 83 in the Billboard charts but according to a Fox News host, it has become a favorite during weddings in the USA.
Three months ago, “What Are Words” became the number 1 hit in Norway; it is now on its 16th week in the Top 20 singles chart. It became number 1 in Singapore last May and number 1 in Sweden as of last week. The music video in YouTube now has over twelve million hits.
For one reason or another, the song resonated with Norwegians, Singaporeans, and Swedes although a lot of them were unaware of Chris and Juliana’s story. Chris said in an interview with NRJ Sweden that in the US, people know his story but not the song; in Sweden, people heard the song first before they learned of his story.
Chris was invited to sing the song for two big concerts in Norway -- School’s Out Festival on June 10 and VG Lista Top 20 Show on June 17. Some 100,000 people attended the latter concert. He returned to Norway last week to sing the song during the funeral of 18-year old Monika Iselin Didriksen. According to Monika’s parents, she was singing the song before she left for Utoya island (where she was shot and killed along with dozens of other youths).
The chorus of the song goes like this:
What are words if you really don’t mean them when you say them
What are words if they’re only for good times and that’s all
When it’s love, yeah you say them out loud
Those words, they never go away
They live on even when we’re gone.