John Charles Chapman
23 July 1930 – 16 November 2012
being with Christ is better by far
I received news earlier this evening that John Chapman was not expected to live much longer. He was in ICU, his breathing was shallow, and he was no longer responding to people around him. I wanted to call and tell him that we loved him, to thank him for his kindness, generosity, love and prayers. I wanted to thank him again for writing to our youngest son, encouraging him to read his Bible, sending him books, praying for him. I wanted to tell him what a huge influence he’d had on my life and so many others. As I spoke with a friend at the hospital, I asked if he would read Chappo Psalm 62, so that he would be reminded again that his God is all powerful and all loving.
At 9.15 this evening Chappo departed to be with his Lord and Saviour. This was the occasion he’d been looking forward to since he was a teenager. This was the hope that Chappo had shared with all who’d listen. Chappo loved explaining to people that Jesus had given his life to pay for their sins and offer forgiveness. He’d share how God had raised Jesus from the dead, and how he was now the Lord of this universe. He’d passionately plead with people to consider how they’d been treating God, to turn and seek forgiveness, and to hand over control of their lives to Jesus.
What a privilege to have known Chappo as a brother and friend, and I look forward to catching up with him one day in heaven. In fact, as we spoke with each other (both in hospital) nearly a year ago, I think I said that maybe I’d make it there before him. It wasn’t to be.
John Chapman gave up his life tonight. But he’d given up his life daily for the last 57 or so years. He gave up his life in the service of God and others. For Chappo, to live was to serve Christ, and to die was to be in the presence of Christ. He kept on serving Christ to the very end, sharing his faith, encouraging others, preaching in the last few weeks, and publishing his latest book. It’s been better for us that Chappo has lived! And now it’s Chappo’s gain. He’s where he truly belongs – not because he was a great man, but because he has a great Saviour. The words of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians truly describe how Chappo lived and died…
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (Philippians 1:20-24)
I miss Chappo already. My heart is heavy. There’s sadness and tears. And yet, I also feel joy because God has completed the work he began in my brother. Thank you God.
Thank you God for bringing us into Chappo’s life and he into ours.
Thank you God for Chappo’s gruelling sermon deconstructions and critiques.
Thank you God for the huge encouragement I received after preaching at Sydney University, when Chappo came up to me and said, “If I wasn’t a Christian already, I’d have become one immediately after that talk!”
Thank you God that Chappo kept our family in his prayer diary for the past 24 years – and that he prayed!
Thank you God for Chappo’s prayers for Fiona and our family after the accident.
Thank you God that each time he got up at night to go to the toilet, he’d pray for me and his other ‘oncology friends’!
Thank you God that Chappo would write and ring up, just to offer a word of encouragement – even though he had the worst phone manner of anyone!
Thank you God that Chappo preached at our first ever Crossroads Christian Church service and many more after that.
Thank you God for letting me and many of my friends and family share my 50th birthday with Chappo this year.
Thank you God for placing it on Chappo’s heart to write and encourage my son.
Thank you God for Chappo’s passion for preaching Christ.
Thank you God for changing people’s hearts as they came to know Christ through Chappo’s preaching and writing.
But mostly, thank you God that you have removed the sting of death, that you’ve prepared a place for Chappo, and that he’s now free from sickness and suffering, and enjoying your presence forever and ever.