On Friday we host the celebration for the life of John Williams, part of our Church family, who died aged 40 leaving behind a wife and three children, the eldest 11.
He was a magnificent teacher and headmaster of the Oasis Academy in Bristol. He had a thirst for life and adventure and was outstanding in the field of education, as one of the youngest headmasters in the country. He is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most gifted worship leaders I have ever known, having overseen that area of the life of our church for several years. He had a thirst for adventure, and has climbed Mont Blanc, as an example.
We prayed for him on Sundays and in our prayer meetings for three weeks following a sudden heart attack in France. He passed away last week.
Last Sunday we paid tribute to him and gosh, by any stretch of the imagination it was an emotionally charged morning. There were few dry eyes.
A few years back Martin (our lead elder) gathered a group of guys in the Church who showed leadership potential. One has planted a Church, one is an international businessman, one a youth leader, I became an elder and John was a headmaster. We discussed life and faith and the challenges and opportunities we faced. He really was one in a million, an amazing guy. There are few words to express how much it hurts.
I don't have any answers as to why. I don't have an integrated theology that places the events of the last fortnight into a neat theological box. What I do have is a compassion for that family that moves me to tears every time I think of the situation, like now. His wife is so wonderful, so assured, so brave. Only a God of love could make someone like that. I have a faith in Jesus that knows John's future in eternity is secure through the saving power of Jesus Christ. And I have a responsibility to love, protect and care for his family and those children.
John's involvement with the Oasis Trust means that Steve Chalke is coming to our Church for the service of celebration on Friday and will do a tribute. I am really looking forward to meeting such a visionary Christian leader whose heart for social action has so shaped my life, starting with his preach at Soul Survivor in 1994.
We have all felt such a deep sadness as we have watched this situation unfold. And yet somehow, in the human sadness, there is joy at a life so powerfully touched by Jesus, so powerfully used by Jesus, and even in death so powerfully remaining a witness to Jesus.
God bless you John, as you, so certainly, blessed us.