Saturday, October 12, 2019

Rembering Ron

Yesterday I was at the funeral and thanksgiving service for Ron Messenger (1923-2019).  Someone said to me: 'I hope there will be a good crowd.  When you are old not many will know all the good things you did.'  Well, the church was packed and the service inspiring. For me, he was the Baptist Mr. Counsellor.  From the beginning of my ministry I knew Ron as a pioneer of a therapeutic healing community of Greenwoods. Everyone in the denomination knew of him. With gentle authority he demonstrated such love and skill with some of the neediest, most troubled people.
You learn so much at a funeral. I didn't know of his service during World War Two as a navigator flying for the Fleet Air Arm. Nor how large his family was with five sons whose families now add up to nearly 40. Nor of his early enthusiasm with the Boys Brigade and his charismatic leadership of the community. Several words kept being repeated. We learned that the war changed him and forged the word FORGIVENESS as key to Christian living - which led him into ministry.  LOVE best described his life and ministry ever since.  Nobody seemed unimportant. And LISTENING marked his phenomenal ability to focus on you.  He used to say: 'Look how Jesus spent time with the one!'Oh, one-on-one....there was so much good to remember.

Personally, I shall never forget the wonder when in retirement he was willing to share his gifts as counsellor in my Cambridge church in 1989.  At first hand, I marvelled at his work in our Stoneyard Centre caring for people that I (and most of us) felt utterly inadequate to help.  He touched countless lives.  He led courses on pastoral counselling for the church (I still have the notes).  His marriage counselling was legendary including advising one couple they weren't ready to marry - and they agreed! To the leadership team he brought depth, experience and maturity...always with grace and a twinkle. So many stories of love and listening with forgiveness at their heart.

The last three years he was bed-ridden, totally blind and very deaf.  Yet he remained a shining witness with such faith in God's love.  We learned that one of his visitors asked him how he was, to which he replied 'Oh, it's good.  I'm learning to listen!  

Isn't it wonderful to have known and been influenced by people like Ron?


Sue Barker said...

I remember Ron from my time as student minister at the Memorial Church, Plaistow. It so often happens that we learn about someone’s very interesting early life at their funeral service.

MichaelQuicke said...

So wakes you up to the need to keep interested in older saints and listen to their stories. Not just listen but learn from them.