In memory of the man who has touched a thousand lives.
A Life Well-Lived
A story by DAVID RAMSDALE
Every so often God raises up an exceptional person whose great positive influence changes their family, friends, community, culture, country and even the world. Such a man was Doming Lucasi who was buried on January 28, 2007. Over a thousand people attended his funeral. A tricycle driver passing the funeral was overheard to say, “He must have been a very important person.”
You might have imagined, as you passed by, that this person had been a wealthy businessman and great philanthropist, someone who had lived in a grand villa overlooking the ocean. But none of that is true of the Doming Lucasi that I and so many others knew and loved.
Doming was a Balangao—one of a people group found in central Luzon in the Philippines. His childhood home was nestled among nearly inaccessible thousand-year-old rice terraces that stair-step their way up the steep slopes of the surrounding mountains. Doming’s early life was not easy. There were no roads, no electricity and no running water. The Balangaos, while culturally rich in many ways, were former headhunters who lived in constant fear of spirits. Vengeance on their enemies was one of their highest values.
But in 1962, their lives—and Doming’s—changed forever.
That year, by invitation of the Balangaos, Jo Shetler and Anne Fetzer arrived to live in the valley that was Doming’s home. Their goal—to translate the Word of God into Balangao. As God planned it, the young translators were invited by Doming’s father, Canao, to live with his family. Doming became the tribal brother of Jo and Anne.
He liked his white “sisters,” and he was intrigued by their message of a God who loved them and was more powerful than the spirits. At first he questioned and objected to their message, but God was working on him. Eventually he not only accepted Jesus, but became the main co-translator of the Balangao New Testament.
Doming had a thirst for education—a thirst that would lead him out of the valley and on to college and seminary. This was unusual, since Balangaos at the time rarely got past a sixth-grade education.
“Doming had a heart for God’s Word. We spent endless hours together talking about God’s Word. He loved Bible translation because he got to be in the Word all day long. He had such a gifted way to switch any conversation to things eternal. More than anything else, he longed for people to know God,” Jo says. “Even on the trail he would turn the conversation to God and ask, ‘Do you know Him?’ He saw a lot of change among his people during his life. He was, in fact, a big part of the change that came to Balangao and, yes, outside Balangao and around the world.”
He wasn’t a perfect man by any means. But oh, what a vessel and demonstration of what it means to obey God. He once said, ‘Keep promises made to God, but don’t make foolish ones!’ ”
But ingrained tribal beliefs such as the desire for revenge don’t die easily. Even after Doming was a pastor-evangelist and had started a dorm for college students in Bayombong (so they would have a place to be influenced for good), he sometimes struggled to do the right thing. Amy West, who later also worked with Doming, tells us of the time Doming’s son Lyle (now a pastor) was beaten up by a gang. Doming was so upset he strategized how to handle the matter in the Balangao way. But God’s Word kept bombarding his mind: “Revenge is mine,” says the Lord. “I will repay.”
Finally he yielded to God and said, “Okay, God, what do You want to do with this?” He then took Lyle and the gang members to the police station, where he opened God’s Word and shared the love of Christ with all of them. And when he asked Lyle if he would forgive the gang members, there was forgiveness.
In countless situations over the years when revenge would have been the natural Balangao response, Doming would turn to the Lord and ask, “Okay, God, what do you want to do with this?” And what often resulted were Bible studies between him and the aggrieving parties.
In February of 2006, Doming was diagnosed with multiple myeloma—an incurable cancer of the plasma cells. That year would prove to be the most difficult this humble man of God and his wife, Loree, had ever known. He suffered nearly unendurable pain. But to the very end, he followed God and witnessed to everyone who attended, treated and visited him. He died in peace, an inspiration to all who knew him.
During his nearly 59 years, Doming was a Bible translator, pastor, teacher, evangelist, dorm dad and mentor. He was a model for his children, nearly all of whom are now college educated. Doming wasn’t looking to leave a great legacy when he died—but he did. He once said, “It’s easier to teach the Word of God than it is to live it.” But we teach more sometimes by our living than by our words. By that standard, Doming’s life was truly well lived.
See the full journey from diagnosis to burial here: