Last Saturday was a rare day. Friends gathered at Chatsworth Baptist Church (already mentioned in previous posts) to celebrate 25 years since the founding of HOPE NOW - an amazing holistic missionary organization. Vic Jackopson has been the inspiration (under God) for this extraordinary work, focused in the Ukraine but with tentacles reaching across the world. With his wife Sue alongside every step of the way he has pioneered this work which brings gospel hope to the neediest - prisoners, street children, orphans, poverty-stricken and disabled. Yet also plants churches, supports students, runs major centres and is into almost everything (it seems) for the sake of Jesus.
I was thrilled to be the preacher to help lead the celebration which also saw the induction of his successor - Jon Budgell. So many things stand out for me as I reflect on a wonderful occasion.
- God specializes in one-offs. I don't know anybody like Vic. Converted in prison, with a call to ministry that was unique from the first. I call him a Baptist Rambo, worthy of being played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Chair of his trustees called him an 'entrepreneurial missionary' which is another way of saying he's made major mischief for Jesus.
- God sustains for lifetimes. Actually, Vic continues to work. Aged 69 he never sees himself retiring and is now committed to mentoring the tens of pastors who are in ministry in the Ukraine because of HOPE NOW. But we've known him for nearly 50 years and throughout illness and difficulties there has been continuous contagious enthusiasm marked by extraordinary gospel happenings. To think my wife and I have known him throughout....all the extravagant hopes at the beginning...seemed to have been fulfilled for God's glory.
- God gifts you the sixties to go on finishing well. I really think that the joy of this past weekend has been the meeting up with peers whose ministries have been very different and yet together of rejoicing in fruit. To rejoice with Vic has been very special.
There's much more I could say. You can find out more about Hope Now on its web site and Vic is now on concert tour in the UK so that others can join in. Thank you Vic and Sue....you have enriched our lives and the kingdom more than you will know.