Last Friday night the world lost someone who it was not worth of having. That man was John Chapman. I am extremely thankful to God for this great man.
John took up his first post Bible College ministry position in my home town of Moree. To this day there are still people in Moree who remember Chappo and his sermons even though he kicked off his full time ministry decades ago! This was rammed home to me when, after I preached what I thought was a good sermon, a lady came up to me and said “Don’t worry even Chappo preached a few stinkers!” I dare say she remembered the stinkers because he was an unusually gifted preacher and therefore his stinkers were very rare and noticeable by their conspicuousness!
It was Chappo and a group of other like minded clergy who worked hard at getting Peter Chiswell installed as Bishop of the Armidale Diocese in 1976. To my knowledge Peter was the first Evangelical Bishop to be installed as Bishop of Armidale. The knock on effect of this work is that every church in the Armidale Diocese has an evangelical minister and when I was a lanky 14 year old kid and I walked in to my local Anglican church I was smack dab in the middle of a great Bible teaching church. I don’t think it is too strong to say that I am a Reformed Evangelical who tries to preach expository messages because Chappo and his band of brothers worked hard to get an evangelical installed as Bishop in the Armidale Diocese.
When I asked Chappo about what part he played to get Peter Chiswell installed as bishop he said “Oh brother I didn’t do that much. People wanted an evangelical bishop and I just said here is our man and I prayed. That is all brother!” When I asked other people who were in the know what part Chappo played in this story they always said he was instrumental or that he was a catalyst. This goes to show how much of a humble man Chappo was.
On Saturday night I chatted two men who had worked very closely in various contexts with Chappo and they both remarked to me that they had never heard anyone say a bad word about Chappo. He was always well liked and well loved because he exuded love and grace to all those he met.
Chappo’s sense of humour was exceptional. I first heard Chappo at the Moree Christian convention in a Q&A time. When he got up to answer the first question I remember thinking “This is the guy who everyone was raving about?” Just when I was settling in for a night of boredom….. BANG!!! his first one liner hit me and then the next and the next. It is safe to say I have never laughed so hard in a church Q&A ever!
Chappo was a committed Reformed Evangelical. I remember having him for preaching class and he would press us not to care about what the academic world said about the Bible or what the outside world thought about the Bible but to hold firm and believe the Scriptures in their entirety. One time he said that we will have to read a lot of “Liberal rubbish that is for the birds. But don’t you lose your confidence in the Scriptures!” This made a huge impression on me as a college student.
But the thing I will miss most about Chappo is his preaching. He was a man who God used mightily to bring many people to come to know and love and serve Jesus. I thank God for his preaching. It was simple without being simplistic. It was biblical and relevant. It was engaging but Chappo never included a joke just to make people listen. Although he did tell some great jokes! Chappo’s preaching was always Expository, it was always Christ centrered and always full of grace. This is the kind of preaching I want to mark my ministry.
I thank God for Chappo and I know that as he was welcomed home he heard these words from Jesus
“Well done good and faithful servant!”
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