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When Keith Ball left for India earlier this month, his family never imagined that they wouldn’t see him again.
Ball, minister for the Delaware Church of Christ in Ohio, and a college friend, Steve McIntire, traveled to Bidar in south central India to work with a church.
While there, Ball was bitten by a mosquito and infected with the Chikungunya virus. Less than a week after he was bitten, Ball died at a hospital in India.
The Chikungunya virus, according to the World Health Organization, typically causes high fever and joint pain but is rarely fatal. However, in this case, Ball was unable to recover.
“I’ve always heard of freak accidents of people dying suddenly and out of nowhere,” Ball’s son Joshua wrote in a Facebook post. “I never thought it would happen to my dad.”
Keith Ball had spent a lot of time in India. For years, he would take a trip every other year, spending about a month working in the country. Then, in recent years, he started going once a year, often traveling alone.
He would go and work at preaching schools, helping train young ministers. He would also speak to churches in the area, sometimes preaching multiple times a day.
As he got older, Joshua Ball said, his dad considered reducing the number of trips but could never actually bring himself to follow through with that reduction.
“His absolute passion to spread the Gospel to the Indian people outweighed any exhaustion he felt,” Joshua Ball told The Christian Chronicle. “He just had to serve.”
He didn’t care about “self-promotion.” In fact, his family says he was very humble about the trips and the work.
“It was about Jesus, not him,” Josh Ball said.
This year, he had decided not to travel alone, taking McIntire with him.
His family believes that decision was inspired by God.
McIntire was able to be with Keith Ball until the very end, making sure he had a chance to talk with his family by phone before he died.
In another post on Facebook, Joshua Ball calls McIntire his family’s “Joseph of Arimathea,” referring to all the ways he has helped the family as they’ve worked to bring Ball’s body back to the U.S.
“As Joseph of Arimathea took the burden from Mary by caring for the body of Jesus Christ in his death, Steve is doing so for us now,” he wrote. “In this terrible grief we have, Steve is one of the greatest blessings from God.”
It took several days and a lot of work, but thanks to the work of Steve McIntire and international authorities the Ball family was able to get Keith’s body transported back to the United States safely.
The family is grateful for those who have been praying. They ask that you continue to pray as they deal with this unexpected loss.
“There is much I want to say,” Joshua Ball wrote. “There are lessons I desperately want everyone in the world to hear about Keith Ball. But now is a time for mourning.”
Services for Keith Ball will be held at 11 a.m. on Nov. 8, at the Snyder-Rodman Funeral Home in Delaware, Ohio.
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