When a great one like John Chapman goes home, we struggle to express our appreciation and sense of loss. Words like warrior, champion and hero come to mind.
But somehow with Chappo, these seem too grandiose and serious. For although the extent of his ministry and influence and legacy can scarcely be exaggerated, neither can his personal warmth and exuberance and sense of fun. He taught us how to evangelize, how to preach, how to think theologically about ministry, how to pursue holiness and plenty more besides, but he also taught us that life was to be lived with laughter, joy and thanksgiving, even in the midst of our hardships.
For me, as for so many evangelicals in Sydney and around the world, it is hard to believe that he is gone. He has been a constant godly presence in our lives for so many decades. In fact, I think I still expect the phone to ring sometime later today, and to hear him to say as he always did, “Why Tony, how lovely to hear your voice.”
I suppose we will still hear his voice, at least through his many books and DVDs and recorded sermons. Here at MM, it has been one of our great joys over the past 15 years to be able to publish his books, starting with the new edition of A Fresh Start and concluding just a few short months ago with his final book, appropriately titled Making the Most of the Bible.
We’re planning a special edition of The Briefing early next year to remember Chappo and to reflect on his legacy. In the meantime, do you have a story to tell, or a particular aspect of Chappo’s life and ministry you want to celebrate?
What are your memories of Chappo?