CLARENDON, Jamaica — Scores of family members, friends, and well-wishers gathered on site and online Thursday night for a service held at New Testament Church of God Palmers Cross to remember the lives of Tavaughn and Tavaris Bulgin, brothers who drowned at Jaws Bridge on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts on August 14.
As the tributes poured in, one common theme echoed throughout the evening: Both brothers were the embodiment of exemplary young Christians.
Representatives from Family Life Ministries highlighted the indelible impact of their legacy while former classmates from Denbigh High School were among friends who shared fond memories of the young men.
According to Devina Henningham, Tavaughn was a well-rounded young man.
"Throughout high school he credited his family in everything he did: football, debate, sixth-form association president, event moderation, music, and so much more," she said.
Fighting to hold back tears she added, "Tavaughn had such a good heart. Always wearing an encouraging smile, always willing to offer a comforting hug. A lot of persons can probably attest to the fact that they had never seen him angry; a sigh may have been the way to handle unfavourable situations. His meek and humble response in these circumstances can be attributed to the fact that he was a true Christian."
At school, Tavaughn spent most of his Tuesday lunch breaks participating in Inter-School Christian Fellowship (ISCF) meetings with his peers. He was also admired for the powerful prayers he delivered whenever he was called upon in general devotions, meetings, and on school excursions.
While attending The University of the West Indies, Mona, Tavaughn spearheaded a Bible study initiative on Chancellor Hall. Despite the challenges encountered, he remained resolute in spreading the Gospel. His peers nicknamed him Timothy, in reference to the youthful biblical character.
"Now everyone knows that Chancellor Hall is not particularly the easiest hall to Christianise. However, he attempted it.
He was unwavering in his faith and persistent to share it. That was resolute, and his example has shown us that we, too, can pluck up the courage to lead in discipleship for Christ," emphasised Henningham.
Acknowledging that the road ahead will be difficult, she underscored the need to still press on.
"He did not get 33 years like Jesus did. He certainly did not get the three scores and 10 like we were promised. He got 21 — way less than we expected — but these are the curve balls in life that we must navigate," said Henningham.
In remembering Tavaris, the older of the brothers, Chavelle Gayle said, "…his life highlighted that he was here on a purpose for a purpose".
She added, "He was passionate about his walk with Christ and was adamant that he would not allow anyone or anything to jeopardise his Christianity."
Like Tavaughn, Tavaris was also a young evangelist.
"As we recall our times in high school, university and beyond, there was never a soul Tav didn't invite to church," said Gayle.
She also underscored the fact that he was never afraid to tell his friends, male or female, how much he loved and appreciated them.
Another classmate, Alicia Williams, also spoke fondly of Tavaris.
"Tav had a great sense of humour and he would… give us a bellyfull of laughter with every moment; there was never a dull moment around him. With such charisma, love, and that infectious smile, he attracted many to him," she said.
Overwhelmed with emotions, both women struggled to complete their tribute as their tears began to flow and their voices started to become inaudible. They told those gathered that while it is hard to say "Rest in peace" to their dear friend of many years, they will continue to push his mantra to "Accept finite disappointments but never lose infinite hope."
Throughout the evening the young men were also remembered for their musical talents, cooking skills, charitable acts, oratory skills, sense of fashion, and for always being polite.
Their funeral service will be held on October 1 at New Testament Church Convention Centre, Rhoden's Pen, Old Harbour, at approximatelt mid-morning. Interment will follow in Trelawny.