The voicemail begins simply: “Hello Reverend Chineta. This is Sharonda. I know it has been some time since we talked, but I want you to know that I love you.”
Listening to the message on June 3, Chineta Goodjoin says, she had been “feeling sorry for myself that day” when the words of her college friend of 27 years, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, moved her to tears.
“Please know that no matter what happens, all shall be well,” Coleman-Singleton, 45, told her friend. “All shall be well. All shall be well. All shall be well. Especially for those who are living their lives according to God’s word. All shall be well.”
Two weeks later, on June 17, Coleman-Singleton would be among the nine victims of the deadly shooting rampage at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Now I know she was telling me something more,” Goodjoin tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I really feel that way.”
Hearing her friend’s message now, says Goodjoin, “I believe that Sharonda knew something was going to happen, and I believe that her message reflects her confidence and her trust that all manner of things shall be well. It reflects her own spirit.”
A warmly optimistic mom of three, Coleman-Singleton – a speech pathologist who also served as a minister at Emanuel AME – “was so funny all the time,” says Goodjoin. “She was eloquent and elegant and just absolutely funny and always supportive.”
Although she missed her call on June 3, the two friends reconnected a few days later, on June 6, for the first time in more than five years.
“We caught up with each other about our children, where we were in the ministry and the things we were doing,” recalls Goodjoin, a 47-year-old pastor in Orange, California. “I had no idea that that would be the last time I talked to Sharonda.”
The day after learning that Coleman-Singleton had been killed, Goodjoin played the message “over and over again,” she says, “and I played it for other people. I played it at church this past weekend. I think that her message was more powerful than anything I could say.”
“It is comforting,” she adds. “Sharonda’s still taking care of people, as you can see.”
• Reporting by JEFF TRUESDELL
For much more on how the loved ones of the Charleston church shooting victims are coping, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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