I ran across an encouraging story today about pastor and hymn writer John Wilbur Chapman. He has left us with several hymns including “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners” and “One Day”. If you have never heard of these hymns I would encourage you to go and listen to the comforting words of “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners” set to a new tune by David Ward.
John Wilbur Chapman was tireless in his work of spreading the gospel. His ministry began pastoring two churches, on in Ohio and one in Indiana. By the end of his ministry he preached across the country and world, including Canada, Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Japan, England, Wales, Ireland, Australia, Scotland, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, and the Fiji Islands. His devotion and fervor for the Gospel may be best summarized in his own words,
“The rule which governs my life is this: anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps me in my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me; and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it.”
But his life was not without trials and difficulties. His first wife, Irene, died just four years after their marriage. With his second wife, Agnes, they lost their first born son, who died in infancy. Agnes died after 19 years of marriage.
His ministry would eventually lead him to preach with DL Moody and Billy Sunday. However, it must have began very ordinary. It is said that in one of his earlier pastorates, on member once told him, “You are not a very strong preacher, but a few of us have decided to gather and pray every Sunday morning for you.” And we know from history that his ministry was loved and flourished.
Behind every effective ministry you will find pray. Pastors covet the prayers of the people. It serves both parties well, it serves the gospel well, it serves the lost well. Pastors are mere men, and the task they are given is beyond them, but with God all things are possible. Even ordinary, not so strong, preachers are used mightily by God when his people pray.
Jesus! what a strength in weakness!Let me hide myself in him; Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing, He, my Strength, my vic’try wins.