Ten Christians who have influenced me for good
I suppose all who read this can think of and write about those who have been a positive influence on their lives.
I recently came across a video titled “10 More Unusual People I Knew” by George Verwer, who talked about ten people that were important influences on his life. George, who helped found the missionary organisation, Operation Mobilisation, could well have qualified for inclusion in my list, because he helped get me enthused about world mission and the need for authentic Christianity, but since my criteria includes those selected being no longer alive as well as my having met them in the flesh, he doesn’t get included. What follows is my list, roughly in the order of when I first met them.
Miss Rafan, whose day time job was head mistress at a school, was in charge of the Sunday School serving the Council Estate in Leigh, where I lived the first 12 years of my life, a formidable lady with a heart of gold. My mum and dad sent me and my sister along, where the seed was sown for later embracing the faith she clearly lived.
Bryn Jones was my Covenanter leader, when aged 13-14 I attended his Bible Class / Boys Club. I was a naughty boy and should have been kicked out, but he patiently persisted. He was a stuffy man who lightened up when he got zapped with the Spirit later on, whose godly influence and sense of duty and honour inspires to this day.
Dorothy Wetton served much of her working life as a missionary nurse in Nigeria. When returning to live in my locality, she was keen to enthuse young people in missionary endeavour (how we met) but came to see the dire state of the church and joined the Charismatic movement to wake it up, seen by some as a true mother in Israel.
Len Ladd was an elderly gentleman, a retired grocer, who attended the church I joined as a teen, and remaining a member of until recently. I recall him as a gentle, gracious, humble man, who loved the Lord and knew His Word. As I went through various ups and downs, he was there to provide a much appreciated kindly word.
I encountered in my early Christian life Winston Chilcraft and recall his first message I heard – on Elijah and Naboth’s vineyard. I got to know him better later in life, including his love for the Hebrew prophets. He was his “own man” and a “character”. He became my role model since he was often “sacked” due to forthright preaching.
Alex Buchannan combined being a member of the Plymouth Brethren and a respected prophet (but not in some PB circles). I loved his Christ centred preaching, which combined gentleness and forthrightness, and his dedication. He prophesied a word for me when I was at a low ebb in my life, that I am seeing worked out.
Iris Naish had served as a missionary in Lebanon, where she was a headmistress. She was a stalwart, with a strong sense of duty, in the church I joined when I first moved away from home for work reasons. I recall her steadfast faithfulness and priority of prayer. I appreciated her counsel and friendship during that transition time.
I met Varghese Mathai almost by chance when I visited India for the first time in 1983 and then met up with him on several return visits. He was a caring man, a Brethren evangelist who took his job to “win souls” seriously, who took me under his wing and encouraged me when it came to doing the work of the Lord. I married his daughter.
David Pawson is best known as a Bible teacher of international renown. He was as thorough as any I have come across in his understanding and exposition of the Bible and, while spurned by some for holding controversial views, I found his teaching, especially his “Unlocking the Bible” series, incisive and helpful.
I don’t put any Christian teacher on a pedestal these days but, if I were to, it might be Jim Packer, whose writings I came across when at university. I found him to be a sound and balanced teacher, in the Reformed tradition, who appreciated the Puritan writers. He was a humble and gracious man, who consistently contended for the truth.