Jaqi was referred to us when we needed to design the Testimony Treasures website. From the first time that I met her I was impressed with the friendly, deeply kind, soft hearted person that she was. Over the last few years she designed two more websites for us and I got to know a little of the beautiful person and believer that she was. She shared a bit of her faith walk and struggles with me and a friendship developed between us.
Last week I received the very sad news of her sudden and unexpected passing. I attended the memorial service at Vantage Point where Rebecca van der Merwe gave the following tribute combined with a very applicable message that I believe all of us can benefit from. Please read this tribute to the end and share with those who new Jaqi.
Jaqi was born in Boksburg to Monica and Keith Daff on 28 September 1964. Her sister Lorraine was born two years later. The family moved to Nigel where Jaqi’s dad was a teacher and housemaster of the boarding school there and because the family lived on the boarding school premises Jaqi, Lorraine and their friends, enjoyed a wonderful school playground, especially during school holidays when the halls were deserted and the children used them as roller-skating rinks.
Jaqi attended Nigel Primary school where she excelled academically and where she met her lifelong friend Paola in grade 2. The family then moved to Kempton Park where Jaqi went to the brand new Norkem High school which her father, Keith had opened as its inaugural principal. Jaqi chose to go to boarding school in standard 9, attending Capricorn High and then opting to complete her matric via correspondence study. Jaqi’s two half-brothers Robert and Andrew were born during this time.
Jaqi was very creative and artistic, and her chosen career path led her to become a graphic designer. Jaqi and her husband Rob ran a successful graphic design business and became the proud parents of Eric and Graham.
The last few years of Jaqi’s life were spent around the Hartebeespoort dam and then in Rustenburg with her partner Trevor.
Jaqi was an active tennis player. She was an integral part of her Stokvel ladies group with women ages 30-90. This group had so much fun together with bowls, crafts, scrabble and more and Jaqi was dearly loved. She was also a beloved member of her ladies Bible study group and her church life group.
The last few months of Jaqi’s life saw her take control and ownership of what she valued and wanted. She moved into a small home on her own and created a peaceful and warm sanctuary for herself. She was so very, very happy during these last few months as she rekindled old friendships and strengthened the lovely friendships she had made in Rustenburg.
Jaqi was always so happy, even in tough times. Her nickname when she was little was ‘merry’. Her bright smile, caring and compassionate nature will be missed.
She is survived by her mother Monica, father Keith, sister Lorraine, brothers Robert and Andrew, and her two boys whom she adored, Eric and Graham.
Recently one of Jaqi’s friends painted her a beautiful picture of a butterfly. Jaqi asked her to add a verse that lately had come to mean so much to her.
John 8:31-32: To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The truth is that we are all deeply in debt. As people, we are in debt before we even know what debt is. That debt is our sin, and it is crushing. It encompasses all the sins we have committed against others, against ourselves, against God. It binds us up and breaks us.
The truth is that Jesus, in his unrelenting love and through the mercy of his sacrifice offers to clear our debt completely. Jesus, the only perfect One to live on this earth, died on the cross in order for us to be reconciled to Him. The concept of this can really mess with us. I love Jesus, I know my Lord and I know myself and there are times when my brain has difficulty reconciling the idea that in his perfect, holy nature he chose to die for me, embracing my true nature; the nature known only to me and those closest to me…my selfishness, my judgements, my pride, my mistakes, …. In the midst of all that depravity Jesus says I love you, I want you, I made you, Come. give it over and let me be your Lord.
All of that debt, Jesus waits with open arms to lift from us, to set apart from us as far as the east is from the west. Our rescue really is just that simple. He wants to set us free. Our nature is to run and hide from the things that make us uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s the enormity of our debt that makes us uncomfortable and for some reason we still end up clinging to our debt, wearing it like a cloak. Sometimes it is the very One trying to deliver us from our debt that makes uncomfortable and we run from Him.
But we can’t run forever. Life is fleeting and we don’t always get the second chances we hold out for. With every breath we take, Jesus is waiting for us to cry out to Him for rescue. He is longing to make us free. It is miraculously simple, but it is far from easy. Jesus joyfully takes the debt from us but we so often try to pick it back up again. We don’t really want to, but we don’t know how to lay down for good. Depending on the degree of our self-sufficiency, our attempts to do everything for ourselves, to be our own gods, this is where it can get a little hard, because the easiest way to learn to walk in the promise of true freedom and to remain in that freedom is to learn to be obedient to what God tells us to do and how He tells us to live. When we allow His uncorrupted word to be our guide, we experience peace even in the midst of chaos. The verse Jaqi loved is clear. Its only when we hold onto His teaching that we know the truth. We must learn to trust God, to trust that what He wants for us is good, and that He alone can satisfy the longings of our heart.
That doesn’t mean we won’t mess it up again. I guarantee, we absolutely will. But instead of our sin crushing us and driving us to a path of self-destruction or self-sufficiency, our debt can drive us back into the arms His arms where we are loved, and embraced and celebrated.
When I first met Jaqi the thing that seemed most elusive to her was peace. She knew the Lord, she was joyful and for the most part she was content, but she was longing for the kind of peace only true reconciliation with Jesus can bring. Over the last few years I’ve watched Jaqi wrestle with herself and with God, as she took steps to completely surrender to the Him and to trust Him with every aspect of her life.
Jaqi would never say she was perfect or that her sins were not painful to herself or to others. I also don’t believe she would ever minimise the feelings of others who felt that pain, but in Jaqi’s life I have seen a woman embrace the love and forgiveness Christ offered her and through her desire for obedience to live how He wanted her live, I’ve witnessed her personal experience of freedom. The kind of freedom that reaches your soul and unlocks the chains.
Near the end of last year Jaqi moved into her new home, in a community with women she dearly loved. She sent her friend a text saying “I found the perfect name for my new home, only I’m not sure how to pronounce it. KHAWDASH: Hebrew word translated “new”, the root meaning of which means “to renew,” “repair,” “rebuild,” “restore” with secondary adjectival meanings of new and fresh.”
This was the season of life Jaqi has been enjoying, with her sons whom she bragged about every chance that she could, with her friends and family. She was living has one who knew all that Christ had done for her and had found freedom in Him.
We grieve today because we have lost this joyful soul that we love and she will be greatly missed. But we can truly celebrate today as well. We can celebrate Jaqi’s heart and personality, the fullness of who she was and what she meant to each of us. And we can celebrate that Jaqi is now experiencing the greatest love, the most perfect peace, and sweetest joy that we could ever know. That hope and promise awaits all of us who cry out to Jesus.
Lord Jesus thank you!
Rebecca van der Merwe
If and when this Testimony has spoken into your heart, please go to the Commitment page.