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What Chappo meant to us

by on November 17, 2012

John Chapman, Sydney’s great evangelist, died yesterday.

I’d like to open this up for readers to tell us – what did Chappo mean to you?

I met Chappo a few times, and carry vivid memories of those moments. He was getting old then, moving slowly, a bit frail. But still sharp as a tack, and full of mental vigour. Even at that stage of life, Chappo was a big personality, fond of humour and fun. His wit could be razor sharp at times. He always had something to talk about, too. If you had something to talk about, it may or may not get air space!

Chappo inspired me by making gospel preaching seem simple and easy. Where other preachers seemed strenuous or anxious, he made it look easy and relaxed. I was drawn to that.

He also made the Bible seem deeply interesting and relevant. There was never a message of ‘this is important you should be paying attention’ coming across – Chappo didn’t need to exhort in that way. It felt important and your attention was rivetted. I think that’s because the things seemed real to him, he really did love and believe in Jesus. It came through. Personal impact.

I also remember Chappo trying out some large scale preaching, through a whole Bible book in one conference. I heard him do Revelation in 3 or 4 talks. It felt a bit experimental. But it was good. It’s stayed with me as a way of teaching the Bible that I’d like to see more of, and I’d like to try it myself. Could be important for teaching us to pay attention to whole stories, not just paragraphs or episodes.

Perhaps the image that has stuck with me most from Chappo is his writing about Luke 24, Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and how their hearts burned within them as Jesus explained the Scriptures. That’s an image to inspire a generation or two of young gospel preachers. I am one of them.

I reckon that image kind of sums up the man’s ministry: Chappo, the Bible, and hearts set on fire for Jesus.

I give thanks to God for John Chapman.

What did Chappo mean to you? Leave a comment.

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