Pastor Chuck Smith has moved. Changed address. Specifically, he relocated from his earthly body to his heavenly one; from time to eternity. He has gone to be with Jesus.
For a report from the Calvary Chapel Association leadership, check out http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=402ca9421c467de147acbbb6e&id=299b56b565&e=85d969d1d6.
Chuck's influence upon my life is almost indescribable. I can't say that I knew him well ... at least not on a personal basis. I spoke with him one on one maybe 15 times over the years, at the very most. Yet the gist of those conversations remain with me. He had that kind of effect. I really didn't need to speak to him more often than that. His words were protein to my soul.
Pastor Chuck was the one preaching the gospel of Jesus the very first time I ever realized that Jesus' death on the cross was on purpose, and was for me and the whole world. In that same evening I learned that I could not only go to heaven when I died, but I could know that I was going to heaven when I died by receiving God's gift of salvation by faith. That was November of 1969.
Pastor Chuck was the pastor I told about my calling into ministry. He asked me about the commentaries I'd read, and the Bible books I'd taught. That was 1976. Then in 1977 he allowed me to be part of a "Shepherd's School" put on by Maranatha Evangelical Association, an outreach of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, my home church. It was during that week-long school that I was invited by the Lord to plant a church on the Monterey Peninsula.
In 1979 it was Pastor Chuck who let me into Calvary Chapel as an affiliated pastor. I hadn't even applied ... one day I saw my name on the list, and I was "in." He gave me an opportunity. I don't know if I'd have received an opportunity elsewhere. That's an area where Chuck really shined. He allowed the equivalent of David's mighty men to come into the ranks and serve as pastors. We were not the cream of the crop, we were the crop that had been creamed ... by our sin, and by our pasts. But the Lord had plans for us, and His power began bringing those plans into fruition.
Several times over the years, Pastor Chuck sat down with me and reviewed our church's finances and budget. I had been super concerned about the big numbers. He was unconcerned, and assured me each time that the numbers were well in line with what it costs to run a church. I learned that while salvation is free, ministry is expensive. I also learned to take steps of faith, no matter what the cost. The Lord was always faithful to provide where He had guided.
In the early 90's Pastor Chuck met with me and two of our church leaders to review our buildout plans in a leased warehouse. In that meeting he said, "what you're doing here is building a building within a building. Why don't you find some land and build a building of your own?" Until that time, I'd not thought of that as an option. Chuck's words were seeds of faith that got us started down a brand new road toward the purchase of land in Monterey at an obscenely low price, and the contruction of a beautiful facility that made even the Monterey City Council members proud.
In 1996 Pastor Chuck flew up to Monterey to dedicate that new building. He told the packed auditorium that this facility was to be a place where people could come and meet God, and gain an eternal perspective. I'll never forget that sermon. It's still on my iPod. And that's exactly what has happened in that place even to the present day.
It was in 2006 that Pastor Chuck learned of the ending of my first marriage. He was genuinely grieved and brokenhearted for me. Although I was only letting him know the situation (not asking for anything), he offered me a job at the Bible College in Brazil. So, so gracious...
It was in 2007 that he made a DVD recording of his blessing upon my remarriage, a video we played at the wedding. What affirmation.
In short, Pastor Chuck was used by God to open many doors for me and others. He was a risk taker with men he believed were called. I will be eternally thankful for that.
Chuck's example of the style of ministy we should do, the life we should live, the purpose and joy of ministry we should maintain ... it all spoke volumes to me. Still does.
His "simply teach the Word simply" approach to Bible teaching was our model. We sought to do the same.
Pastor Chuck will be missed, but he has left a lot of himself behind ... in my life, and in the lives of countless other pastors and leaders all over the world who are better servants of Jesus because of the life of Pastor Chuck Smith.