Remembering a spiritual hero!
I am sometimes forced to ask the question, why has God blessed my life so much more than I deserve in so many ways, but none more so than in quality of friendships I have enjoyed since the day I became a Christian? This has been brought home to me again, but rather forcefully over the past few weeks. First, in the death of Dr John Roche, who had interviewed me for church membership 61 years ago, when I was just a young man straight out of prison. He was not just a good friend, he was so much more, He was an example, an encourager, a confidant and never shirked telling me the painful truth about myself whenever necessary, but always with grace and a gentle smile. Many friends will remember John from mission trips in America, South Africa and Ukraine, even into his old age. Whether skiing in the French Alps or walking in the Lake District or Cornwall, John and I could spend half a day without saying a word, knowing, we didn’t have to. Such was our level of contentment. When he read Amos the prophet, he came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit for owning a holiday home in St Mawes, Cornwall and decided to give it to a local villager, who could never afford to have a home in his own village. Such quality! Such generosity of spirit.
But John was 94 when Covid 19 visited his nursing home and he was ready to be with the Lord he loved, Grief was tinged with joy and thanksgiving. But then came the devastating news
that my dear friend and partner in ministry, Bob McLeod had died of an aneurism on the brain. On the 6th February, a date already indelibly imprinted on my mind as the date of King George IV death.
There are no words adequate to do justice as a description of BoB McLeod. It was my joy and enormous privilege to mentor Bob in his early walk with the Lord and eventual ministry. To say, we became partners in ministry is an understatement. Next Sunday, I will preach for Limbury Baptist Church, a sermon about the relationship between Paul and Timothy from Philippians 2:20-24. In verse 20 most translations say, I have no-one else likeminded, or like him. But the word in the original Greek text is unique in the New Testament and is only used of Timothy. The word is isopsychon. It literally means, equal-souled, meaning they were twin-souled. That is surely the best description I can give to Bob.
Every true teacher wants those whom they have mentored to achieve more than they have themselves. Bob certainly did. His had a unique gift of having time for everyone who came along, and making them feel they were the only person that mattered to Bob McLeod. We have worked in prisons and orphanages on three continents and he was always the same with people, whether high or low, from the youngest child to the oldest rogue. Always a word of wisdom or an appropriate song. He oozed out scriptures without a hint of cant and spoke sound wisdom without any feeling of superiority. In short, he was the most Christ-like person I have ever known, and that’s saying something. Don’t get me wrong, though he was truly holy, he was also enormous fun. If you could have sat in the back of the car, listening to the two of us belting out songs of the 60s or horsing around, you would know he never took himself too seriously. There is absolutely no telling, the chaos he is causing right now, without Patti there to control him.
Thank you, Father God, for half a century of blessing, with the truest friend and partner in ministry a man could ever have.. Paul had his Timothy, Moody had his Sanky, Billy Graham had his George Beverley Shea, but you gave me Bob McLeod and I was glad. Thank you too Patti for giving him a rope long enough for the roads we trod together..