John Stott: A personal memoir - Vinay Samuel
david at virtueonline.org
david at virtueonline.org
Fri Aug 5 10:14:57 EDT 2011
A personal memoir of Dr J.R.W.Stott - Vinay Samuel
July 30th, 2011
Vinay Samuel was the first Langham Scholar and succeeded John Stott as general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion.
The Pew forum on Religion and Public Life did a survey of evangelical attitudes at the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town South Africa last November. The survey confirmed the rapid growth and dynamism of Evangelical Christianity in the Global South.
John Stott's contribution to Evangelical Christianity in the Global South is immense. It is with some sadness but with deep gratitude to God that I share a personal reflection on John's contribution to the lives of many of us in the non-western evangelical world.
For most evangelical leaders in the Global South John was "Uncle John". He was seen as a revered Elder of the family. He knew our family members by name and we knew he prayed for us. At some of the most important times in my life I met with John, knelt down and prayed with him. He prayed for me to know and do God's will as we knelt in his office at 13 Bridford Mews.
The most significant influence in my life is in two areas. In the beginning of the 1970's as the first Langham Scholar I was privileged to be invited to gatherings like the Eclectics. It struck me powerfully that evangelicalism was a Gospel movement uncompromisingly faithful to biblical teaching. It was not about gifted and great evangelical leaders. The rather raucous democracy of the meetings at the Eclectics showed that John's style of leadership was focussed on identifying, encouraging and empowering others. It was never about John Stott but about the movement to defend and further it. For someone with such gifts and called to such key roles of leadership in the global evangelical movement John was a unique model of Christian humility.
In the 1980's Evangelicalism struggled to hold together proclamation of the Gospel and social engagement as integral parts of Christian Mission. As one who was part of that struggle I was most encouraged with john's leadership. He was able to listen to different views with great patience and sought to understand and express them authentically. John showed holding strong evangelical convictions does not close one's mind. It gives one the confidence to be open to other views and even to learn from them. It helped me a good deal as I was called several times to represent the evangelical position in ecumenical gatherings. John modelled principled comprehensiveness that he wrote about.
Finally, I learnt from John that steeping oneself in the Bible does not disable one from engaging with the world. It actually equips and empowers you to address the world with confidence. Much of my continuing love for studying the Bible and sharing its message I owe to the hours spent in my younger days in John Stott's books.
John's love for the Anglican Church rubbed off on me. What I will miss most is kneeling by his side and praying with him for the Anglican Communion.
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