Our hearts go out to you at this time, and we are praying for you, as John is no longer with you ‘in the flesh’, but waiting for all of you at home with the Lord. We are sure that the mixture of sadness and joy is not easy sadness for the absence of such a dear husband and companion, father and friend; but also joy for his going home into freedom from suffering, into peace and rest, having ‘ceased from his labours’. May the God of all comfort be consciously close to you at this time.
We remember John as one who said repeatedly that he ‘wanted to die in the saddle’. We salute him as a true disciple and soldier of the Kingdom who went about ‘doin’ the stuff’ till he was ‘taken up to glory’. John has been a father and friend to many, many people, but especially to us here in South Africa. We cannot thank God enough for bringing John and Carol across our paths we were changed forever with all the pain and joy that it has brought, which has been considerable!!
What connected us with you from the beginning, and remained so throughout our journey while John was with us, was his easy honest real self his sometimes embarrassing level of self-disclosure and his open heart and life; his inspiring vision of Church and of the Kingdom his passion to plant churches and advance the Kingdom; as he would sit and talk our hearts would ‘burn within us’ knowing that he was articulating what we all deeply and instinctively believed and felt; his radical commitment to Jesus and ‘doin’ the stuff’; his preparedness to trust and give ministry away; his heart and songs of worship (perhaps his greatest legacy); John’s ability to be soft and show mercy, to repent and say ‘I’m sorry’; His incredible generosity; his gentle authority and avoidance of all titles, ego-trips etc; his being in touch with his human weakness, his honest struggles with his body, with his failures, with his sins; and his wise, winsome, bearded smile: John, we deeply love and respect you and we’re going to miss you but only for a while! You’re now doing what you said you would always like to do: to worship and bow down before the throne and cast your crown at His feet and then to sit with Jesus (and maybe Paul and others) and pull out your ‘back-burner’ file and ask all the questions that you courageously and honestly left unanswered till this time you did not lead us astray and pretend when you did not know for this we thank you. But now we envy you because you’ve got the answers, at least some of them no, in fact, you have the Answer that you’ve longed and looked for all your life: the heart of the Father and the Son in the fullness of the Spirit. Enjoy Him, John, it’s been a long time coming, you’re now home!!
I will never forget when I had the privilege of working with you for 10 months in 1982 in the Wagner house, how that one night you awoke with a physical and spiritual struggle thinking that you were actually going to die you went through to the lounge and wept and prayed and waited for Jesus to come and take you home, but it didn’t happen you got a song instead! And we only learnt of that experience the following Sunday when you tearfully sang and taught us the song. It instantly melted my heart and gripped me with such an overwhelming longing for God. This most beautiful and haunting song, with its simple words, captures the profound and pure yearning for God that I will always associate with you and your life and ministry, John Wimber:
No one but You, O Lord, no one but You, O Lord
There isn’t anyone in this world like You
None on earth is there
Not one that could compare
There isn’t anyone in this world like You
You are altogether lovely
And You’re all I want to see
And when my life is through
I’m coming home to You
That’s all I want to do, just come home to You
To Carol, we bless you for your love and support, for hanging in there with this man (which wasn’t always easy by his own admission!), and together with John, being to all of us an inspiration of worship, of raw hunger for God and His purposes, and of persistent intercession and ministry. We love and respect you and pray for your well-being as you face the immediate future. May the Father give you courage and strength as you journey on with your family, especially with your son Chris. And Chris, we continue to hold you and your family up to the nail-pierced hands of Jesus, trusting Him for his mercy, for His touch, for His plan for your life.
God be with you all. We honour you because we are not unmindful of the costly bitter-sweet price you have all had to pay for the path you’ve taken with John, the path that we too have chosen with you all.
With love and great appreciation
Alexander and Gill Venter
(on behalf of the team of pastors and Churches in the Gauteng AVC, South Africa)