Derek Prime…A Gentle Soul

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Jenny said it best after our meeting with Derek when she commented, “Meeting with Derek Prime has been the highlight of our trip.” I would wholeheartedly agree. How can that be? We flew into and toured Croatia and then off to Austria. We ventured into Italy and then a day in Salzburg. And if that were not enough we landed in London, drove through England and into Scotland to tour a city that is centuries old with sights hard to comprehend. Who is Derek Prime? He is gentlest soul I have ever met.

After 84 years of life, Derek exudes an enviable love for Jesus with the fewest of words spoken. He has a loose hold of the things of this this side of heaven with a sure understanding of how temporal this world is. In his twilight years he has purposed his heart to be active in his devotions, to keep his mind keen through reading and writing. He is intentional in his involvement in a book club in order to be around unbelievers and another opportunity to share the love of Jesus which he does by simply entering a room.

On Being a PastorI don’t even remember how I stumbled upon the book “On Being A Pastor” written by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg. Alistair is from Scotland and served as Derek’s assistant for just over two years. The original book was actually written by Derek, but prior to being published in America, Derek thought it might be good to have an American perspective on the various aspects of being a pastor and invited Alistair to participate. It was a book that the Lord put into my path not long after starting the church. It is a must read for every pastor elder of every church.

We were privileged to have visited with Derek in his home for over two hours while visiting Edinburgh, Scotland. The time of talking with Derek flew by as we heard the stories of his conversion, his time in the military and decades of service to Jesus which will be forever etched upon my heart. I only wish I could have recorded it to listen to it again and again reminding me of this wonderful call to be a Christian and the privilege of being a pastor. Earlier I had written a blog post “The Simplicity of Jesus” not realizing that I would experience it first hand that very afternoon.

“We mustn’t be proud of our grandchildren but grateful.”

There are so many things Derek said that impacted us. We cherished every moment sitting in his living room, hearing the stories of people he knew, countries he visited, and humbly speaking of numerous opportunities he had been given to minister in Edinburgh and other parts of the world. He tenderly spoke of his family, in particular his wife and a daughter who have since gone to heaven. I loved listening to the confidence he had of how real heaven is. In fondly speaking of his grandson who had recently accompanied him to a wedding in London Derek said, “We mustn’t be proud of our grandchildren but grateful.”

Our time ended with farewells, a couple of pictures and Derek walking us out of his flat. In accompanying us down the hall he stopped at a window and pointed out a small canal that went by his apartment complex. As it turned out, what seemed like an ordinary small body of water, turned out to be the canal in which Robert Murray M’Cheyne transported his household goods from one of the three homes he lived in while residing in Edinburgh. Don’t see a lot of that sort of thing in Puyallup.

Do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes to listen to Derek’s Testimony. He shared it at Charlotte Chapel, a church he pastored in Edinburgh for some 17 years. You will be blessed as you listen to this gentle man speak of the challenges of growing old and the joyful expectation of heaven. Furthermore, you will get a minute glimpse of what Jenny and I experienced, not on a video or in a church, but in the peaceful setting of a Scottish flat in Edinburgh over a hot cup of tea.

I love the church!

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What a blessed week we had at what is known in the Calvary Chapel circles as “The Castle” located in Millstatt, Austria. Located about an hour’s drive from Klagenfurt, it is the host and site of an annual missions conference of which a few hundred missionaries from throughout Europe participate. Our European missionaries participate in the conference each year and this summer Mark & Rene Bethune from our home church, The Chapel Church will be attending with their son-in-law and daughter, Ben & Emily Spector as well as Emily’s little sister Jen.

Jenny and I arrived on Sunday afternoon where I had the opportunity to begin a series of five studies on “The Church”. These teachings from Scripture included how the church got started; what the church is; church membership; body life as God intended it to be; maintaining the integrity of the church; and finally the mission of the church. The church is one of my favorite subjects in the world. It was a tremendous blessing to be able to share God’s heart for His church with believers from four different Calvary Chapels in Austria. They were so receptive and very eager to learn. Each session began with worship followed by the teaching. Here is a video of the worship led by some close friends of ours Rene & Sabrina Podesser. No matter what language it is, when worship is done in the spirit of humility and surrender to Jesus, it moves a person’s heart. Rene is in a band (Solar Jet) with three other friends of ours whom we have gotten to know over the years. They are a talented group of guys. An added bonus was previewing Rene & Sabrina’s new music video, “Guten Morgen!” (Good Morning). Check it out…it is really catchy.

The Castle has a great little cafe where you can get coffee, snacks, and ice cream. I love buying people stuff in the cafe and told the group that it seems like the money isn’t even real. I also sold them that I am sure I will find out how real it is when I get home and get my Visa bill. The Castle is a wonderful place for the kids to run around and hang out with each other. It is so encouraging seeing the missionary kids play with each other. They have so much in common. I love this video of Caleb enjoying an ice cream bar. You will see that he is really into it! I love his focus and intensity.

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Rachel, Ira, Becky & Jenny

One of the great things about coming to this conference is that over the past three years we have developed a number of relationships with the people at The Chapel Salzburg as well as some of the employees of the Castle. One of those is Becky Lindsay, Alex Lindsay’s sister. We really fell in love with her on our first trip here and we picked up right were we left off. It is really like coming home to old friends. There is nothing quite like the the church, the body of Christ. Fellowship among believers is one of the blessed benefits of being a Christian.

The more I visit Europe, the more I appreciate it for so many reasons. One of those reasons is the close proximity to other countries. One afternoon, a small group of us decided to head to Italy for the day. It was a small town named Tarvisio and their pizza was awesome! When you look at a map of Europe, you can see how easy it is to visit several countries in one day. Hearing languages of all kinds from numerous countries is simply what you come to accept here as quite commonplace.

It was a great week and I was particularly encouraged by the response to the week of teachings. God is so good that in coming to minister to these precious saints in Austria, I was greatly ministered to. I will return home with a renewed love for our church, for how precious it is to Jesus and how much He loves it, and to keep the simplicity of Him central in all that we do.

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A Day Late!

passportHow often have we trustingly said, “I will do this or that…if the Lord wills?” Well, yesterday I had an opportunity to put this to the test. Having been invited to speak at the Calvary Chapel Austria Conference months ago, I started making preparations. There is a lot to do to get ready for a trip of this magnitude. It had been close to two years since visiting our missionaries in Europe and the last time I visited I went without my wife Jenny taking one of our pastors, Alan Chappell instead. Jenny had accompanied me three years ago and was a real blessing to the women of the various fellowships and missionaries we visited. Needless to say, as much as they appreciated meeting Alan, they warned me that I had better not do that again. “We like Alan”, they said, “but you had better bring Jenny next time!” Thank the Lord, as I write this post enroute (a day late I might add) she is sitting next to me. I think we are somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere near Greenland.

A day late? 

On Sunday, I taught the final verses of 1 John 5…

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:13-15 (ESV)

Needless to say, I had no idea when I was teaching and boldly exhorting, “Why would we want anything less than God’s will, doesn’t He know what is best? We must trust Him in all things,” that within 24 hours…almost to the hour, I would hear the Lufthansa Agent say (as we were hoisting our bags on the scale) “These passports aren’t good, you won’t be flying out today.” Shocked would be an understatement. I think it is one of the worst nightmares after all of the work of a trip like this and the built up excitement that goes along with it. We quickly called out daughter who was heading back home and asked her to come and get us. I immediately called the regional passport office in Seattle only to be told, via automated system on how to get an expedited passport that the earliest I could get an appointment for a new passport was Friday morning. This created multiple problems, as I was supposed to speak at a church service in Klagenfurt, Austria on Sunday morning and then the first of five teachings on Sunday evening at the conference in Milstadt. I tried to stay calm. Jenny was amazing, “Maybe the Lord has something else for us.” I knew this was true. At some level I knew this was a test, but I wasn’t really feeling it in that moment. And so with all kinds of emotions stirring, we headed to Seattle. I figure, it can’t hurt, we were only a half hour away and just maybe they will have compassion on us. The Lord is good and the automated apointment system was not sovereign! We walked into the office, and walked out two hours later with new passports in hand, new reservations made for the morning (same flights and no additional costs. And there you have it!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

And so, what was that all about! I don’t know for sure, but the Lord willed it, and here is the funny thing (though I wasn’t laughing about it at the time…but did think about it). We had planned on an overnight trip with Ben & Emily Spector (Croatia Missionaries) to the coastal city of Ravnij. For the life of me, I could not get a reservation for a hotel. So, the Lord knowing all things, saved us the loss of a deposit there knowing we would be leaving a day later. I will say however, we did have to pay additional for the expedite fee so in many respects it was a wash. Oh well, the Lord is good anyway you look at it. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away…blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). It all belongs to Him!

Epilogue…

A word to the wise. If you are traveling abroad, make sure you check your passport expiration date and don’t make the assumption (as I did) that if your passport isn’t expired you are good to go. Some countries (Croatia) being one of them, require that your trip is scheduled at least three months prior to the expiration date. Didn’t see that one coming.

If your interested…here is a brief look at Our Itinerary. I will be blogging throughout our trip. These are our plans, we will see what the Lord has in store.

Blessings!