Tommy Downs

Tommy Downs

A Servant of Jesus Christ


My coworker/friend/brother Thanak made this incredible video.

New Year’s Party

Our new year’s party at our house was great, we had so many friends helping us setup for it. There was so much food and games and singing and dancing. Thanak emcee’d the whole event as well as baptized his disciple Sophiep. 200 people were there, mostly Christians, but also we had some non-christians who really had an awesome time.

Sophiep being baptized

The party finally ended at 1 or so in the morning and 45 people camped there. We’re gonna start up monthly meetings which will be on a smaller scale but for the purpose of bringing Christians together to encourage each other and to teach.

My Past; Finding my Emotions

I thought I was an unemotional person, but upon writing this, my constant flow of tears proved otherwise. Not that I’m sad, I’m just overwhelmed with joy and love towards my family. I’m fine.

I carry around a photo of my family in my wallet, I show it to people because no matter the distance, it’s who I am: I’m not an individual but a family.


I miss my older sister Melody, I wish I was doing missions alongside her. She was strong, intelligent, focused, adventurous, and independent with a heart for helping and teaching people; she taught me so much. She overcame her own fears and insecurities and patiently helped me to shed mine; she believed in me and saw my potential and trained me to grow, to go beyond all my cynicism and doubt and to become an overcomer. I was clumsy growing up and afraid of getting hurt, but she taught me gymnastics. I was a consumer of videos and videogames and she taught me to create. We worked on projects and photography together even though I was an 11 year old boy and she was 18. I’ve never been as close to anyone else in my life as with her. She’s the reason I am who I am today.

Her life echoes through all of us to this day. Her love for Christ and for the lost who have never heard of Jesus was contagious. Her heart was pure.

People will say I’m exaggerating because of nostalgia or trauma or whatever, but then I see her traits reflected in us who she’s inspired; like my other siblings:


Daniel exhibits Melody’s fun, independence, and immunity to the pressures of this world. He goes above and beyond by generously supplying us with cellphones and fixing our tech problems. He’s unbelievably humble and willing to associate with anybody and make them feel like family.


Harmony has taken up Melody’s servant heart and her ability to lead, mobilize, and inspire people. Even when playing a competitive game she will somehow get everyone to cooperate to ensure that each and every player lives out their full potential.


Bonnie has assumed Melody’s maternal love through teaching and raising various other people’s children and as she carries Melody’s blamelessness. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if Bonnie asks you to do something you can’t help but joyfully submit to her authority. She’s focused and never gets distracted from her mission.


Joy has taken up Melody’s strength and her care for difficult, abused, and neglected teens. As well as Melody’s passion for creating art.


Willie is the new computer expert taking over the digital creative responsibilities I had inherited from Melody. He’s a leader among the boys and keeps them entertained and sets an example.


Gracie is the social butterfly, neglecting Melody’s introversion and makes everyone around her feel loved. She has inherited Melody’s affinity for acrobatics and can do contortionism I would have not ever thought possible. Gracie shows us that there’s no limits and that we can become flexible enough to mock any pressure we may face.


Faith is steadfast and disciplined. Like Melody (and far beyond that) she overcomes her own inherent shyness to reach out to strangers wherever she is. She prays for the sick, preaches the gospel, writes convicting songs, and is not ashamed of her faith.


Andrew although he’s the youngest, he takes responsibility and assists his siblings with taking care of their kids and is a big help. Though he’s young (13 now), he engages in whatever we’re doing whether that’s playing, working, or taking care of people.

Melody’s death

So we miss Melody and we’ve all been inspired and encouraged by her, even Faith and Andrew who have never met her.

Melody took a missions trip with Overland Missions to Mozambique in 2005, they told her to take malaria prophylaxis but as an adult she had opted out of it. She slept in a sealed tent and I don’t think she lacked protection from mosquitos that could’ve been provided for her.

Overland has always recommended medical checkups and such when traveling but again that was her choice to forego that. People choose to not wear masks and to not get vaccines and that’s what Melody was doing, exercising her choice.

Like the flu, malaria isn’t usually fatal, yet some people die. Malaria meds are really unhealthy with lots of side effects and cannot be taken long-term but Overland has always required them for short trips and for the 3 month advanced missions training. (Though Melody had gotten an exemption). Melody got sick and passed away from malaria shortly after coming back from Mozambique.

And through it all, Overland has encouraged us and been there for us through that tough time and I refuse to let them receive blame since they’re neither negligent or foolish. People like to blame my mother, people like to blame God, some people even blame Melody.

People die in car accidents all the time, but we still drive places knowing full well it’s the most dangerous thing we can do. We don’t need to blame someone for each and every car accident and instead we need to recognize that although we can’t escape inevitable death, we can escape hell and enter into life through Jesus Christ. Could Melody have lived longer if she’d done some things differently? Probably, but let us let go of the past and run toward the future, not afraid or ashamed, but living fully realized lives as the body of Christ to this dying world.

Who am I?

We need one another, we can’t live life alone and I pray that everyone finds that acceptance, that peace, that belonging, and that strength that’s in the unity of the body of Christ. Most times I think that I don’t need anyone else and that I’m self-sufficient and stronger than that; that emotions are for the weak, and that maybe other people need me, but I don’t need anyone else because I’m “mature” and unemotional. But the story of my life says otherwise, I’m where I am today because of the unlimited love, affection, and care I’ve been given through these many precious relationships which are worth more than gold and will last into eternity. Any love I receive from others is merely an echo of God’s initial and everlasting love for me. How delightful and beautiful, and wonderful God must be beyond every one of us who are only made in his image. Just as the picture of the waterfall though incredible can never compare to the real thing.

I’m spoiled and blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life who have patiently worked with me and refused to let me give up. They showed me how much I matter to them and to Jesus and how capable I am. I will not let their effort be wasted and I hope to be the kind of person who can do the same for others.

Now I’m working with Overland Missions long-term in Asia and they have my back. We’re a solid team who strengthens one another and demonstrates the love of Christ. Sometimes I worry that my presence with Overland serves as a reminder of my sister Melody and her death, but I see rather that I serve as a witness of her life which is a testimony of Jesus and his victory over death.

May you be a part of a team that brings out the best in you,

I’m a member of you as you are of me,

“so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:5, ESV2011)

Tommy Downs