A Dying Pastor’s Letter to His Town

Erik Raymond —  October 3, 2012

A friend of mine’s pastor recently penned a letter to the editor in his town newspaper. Apparently this has been a regular occurrence for the man. This time the letter is written under a different set of circumstances. Robert is dying of cancer. In reading the letter I am struck by a number of things, including: the unique power in the Christian message, the testimony of a godly pastor committed to a community over a long period, the preciousness of Christ. I have heard that this letter, after being published, has opened previously closed doors for the gospel. Let us pray that it paves the way for more.

Dear Editor:

Terri and I moved to Sedalia with one child in 1983 to pastor a new church which has met at Highway M Chapel since 1987. Alas, pancreatic cancer showed up two years ago. Apart from divine intervention, I’m near the end of the road. Permit a farewell to my dear community.

In the almost 30 years we have raised our five children, lived our lives, gone in and out of the businesses, talked on the sidewalks, preached indoors and out, and I’ve written maybe 300 letters to the editor. This appears to be the last. The song writer says, “Time, like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away.”

Especially being a Christian, I’ve known that life is brief, death is certain, and an appearance before the Judge of all the earth is coming. Yet, my life is more of a “disappearing vapor” than I imagined. Indeed, the one great thing in life is to be ready to die. It is simple, but big. Yes, I’d like to stay on with my family, with my church, and with the souls of men to try to serve. But God’s will is sovereign. And, I am ready to die, in that I was saved from my sins by the grace of Christ 41 years ago. Heaven is ok! This world is passing away, ruined by sin. There is no fix to all the misery. A new president cannot fix the land. Hospitals remain, law courts remain, the jail house remains, the military remains, and tears will continue to fall.

My closing exhortation to fellow-Sedalians is that Christ is the only hope. Make sure you have Him. That’s all one can have, ultimately. All else is stripped away. He will fix you; He will fix it all. He conquered the grave. I go down with a glad shout, “O grave, where is your victory?” When the Lord Jesus returns I will rise again with all the Christians to a new heavens and new earth. There is a heaven to gain; there is a hell to shun. Farewell to all. It has been a well-spent journey here in Sedalia.

Robert C. Jennings
Sedalia, MO

Join me in also praying for Robert, his family and his church during this season of trial.

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond

19 responses to A Dying Pastor’s Letter to His Town

  1. What a gem.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Erik,
    Through friends who know Bob Jennings well, I’ve been following his status for a while. I’d encourage you and the readers to read his journal (www.bobjenningsjournal.com) and check out some of his sermons/sermon jams on http://www.illbehonest.com. The man is a great example of persevering faithfulness.

    Josh

  3. Wow! What a testimony! Thanks for the links, Josh.

  4. What a heart of love for his community! Motivates me to want to love people more!

  5. I recently took a United Methodist History course, and it was interesting to see how important records of dying speeches were to early methodists in their faith. Last words are so impacting, because the person no longer has anything to lose – its all on the table. The faith that comes through is inspiring and I’m so glad you shared this with us.

  6. Thanks for posting this, Erik. Will keep him and his in prayer. Great letter. Samson slew more of the enemy in his dying moments than in all his life. I pray that by God’s grace Robert’s testimony might be similar.

  7. He wrote: “And, I am ready to die, in that I was saved from my sins by the grace of Christ 41 years ago. Heaven is ok! This world is passing away, ruined by sin. There is no fix to all the misery. A new president cannot fix the land. Hospitals remain, law courts remain, the jail house remains, the military remains, and tears will continue to fall.”

    Sounds like a bitter old man to me. He’s about to embark on a journey to heaven but he can’t resist telling the rest of us that we shall be left with tears in our eyes, trying to cope with a miserable life in a world ruined by sin.

    • Bless are the dead who die in the Lord.
      Michael, it is appointed for man,(all) to die and after will be the judgement. How will you face God? naked and in shame? Please except the Lord in you life, and the bitterness, the doubt, the unforgiveness that you have in your heart will be gone. Amen

  8. I know well the toll cancer can have.Just this year my wife has lost both her parents to cancer. My father in law had bone cancer and mother in law had breast cancer that had spread throughout her body. My heart goes out to Pastor Bob, his family and congregation. My prayers are with him with much tears. However, we have the hope that when we are absent from the body we will be present with the Lord.

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  10. Why didn’t your god save his staff from cancer?

  11. I just want to express my sadness in Pastor Roberts passing, he has helped me so much in my new Christian journey.. My deepest condolences to family and friends.

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