Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Grief Revisited:Thoughts on the Death of a Friend

Ps 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.

As I write this, I am saddened and even a bit shocked over the death of my friend and fellow Pastor Steve Mays. Steve was an anchor in the Calvary Chapel movement for over 4 decades, and his home going, though something all can rejoice in, is still a huge loss for the fellowship of Calvary Chapel of South Bay, the fellowship of Calvary Chapels worldwide, and the body of Christ at large.

I don't remember exactly when I first met Steve, as it was over 30 years ago but I do remember that even then he had a very sober attitude towards ministry and God's word. I met, in him, a fellow lover of God and from that point on my respect for him continued to grow.

I will miss him deeply.

I still remember being asked to speak at his church services when he met in a smaller building around a mile from its present location. Steve had taken over the church in 1980, and began ministering at that time to around 50 or so members. When I went to teach his Sunday services the sanctuary at that time held around 700 and he held two services, with neither one heavily attended. Over the years Steve faithfully delivered God's word and the church continued to grow. I remember when they bought their present location. Steve asked me to come and see what the Lord was doing, and I was so blessed to see their new place, and as the years progressed I was able to see the Lord add to the church until it reached its present 9,000 members.

O the amazing grace of God.

Over the years Marie and I had opportunity to become friends with Steve and his wife Gail. We went to Alaska on a cruise, went to Washington, DC, and I had the blessing of teaching his fellowship and speaking at conferences on several occasions over the years. As recently as April Steve, though not physically well, came and blessed our church by teaching my midweek study. My daughter Anna told me that she really loved Steve and appreciated his messages, and to hear her say this blessed my heart because I did too.

In June, I saw Steve at the pastor's conference. I was visiting with friends when I heard him call my name, and I excused myself from my friends and spoke to him. After visiting for a few minutes, he said to me that he was going in for another surgery, and that he would be calling on me to teach while he was recuperating. My last words to Steve were, "Just give me a call. I love you, man".

Well, yesterday we got the call but it wasn't to come share at his church. It was to remember his life.

I will remember.

We served together on the Calvary Chapel Association board, a board that was set up before our beloved pastor Chuck moved to heaven. It is made up of men chosen by Chuck with the intent of shepherding the Movement that many of us are veterans of. One of the men said to me yesterday, "Well, this is the first one of us to go to heaven". Those words struck a chord in my heart, and it reminds me to keep my hand to the plow, and to keep my eyes on the prize, and to stretch for the tape so that I, like my beloved Pastor Chuck (today marks the anniversary of his going to heaven) and my friend Steve may one day hear the words "well done" from our beloved Savior Jesus.

I will miss my friend, but as a Christian I know that we never really say "good-bye". For us, it is always, "I'll see you later!"

Though these words are really for me in that Steve can't hear me say this, still I will say "Steve, I love you man. See you later".

1 comment:

Debbie said...

I had not heard about the passing of Pastor Steve. He was our Pastor for a few years when we were living in Cypress. How he blessed us would be hard to describe. Such a wonderful man of God, he had a large impact on our early married life and our lives as fairly new Christians. I join you in rejoicing for him as he is now in the presence of our Savior, and will pray for his family that they will know His peace until they see him again. Debbie Class