Gratitude – Remembering John Smith

Sean writes …
 Initiatives like Zac’s Place and the stuff that happens at places like it, doesn’t just happen by accident. It takes dedicated commitment from volunteers, staff & a broad support base. It also carries a vision and a passion that the world doesn’t have to stay the way it is, that there is another way to live, to love and to serve. This too doesn’t happen by accident. Somewhere along the way, a spark ignites a flame and fire burns bright.
 Pivotal in the story of Zac’s Place is the fire that burns in the core of my soul, that was further fanned into flame by an Australian preacher 30 years ago, who became my friend a mentor. He pointed me to the words and teaching of Jesus that seemed too tough to follow – loving your enemies, forgiving aggressors, caring for and speaking up for the rights of the outcast and marginalised – the stuff of the Sermon on the Mount. It transformed my faith and the course of my life.
 This week, John Smith died in the arms of his bride of 51 years, at the age of 77 — and in the spirit of John Wesley, the world had been his parish. Zac’s Place was part of that parish.
 He may have had the ear of politicians, activists, global icons, narrowly escaped execution for human rights efforts, and addressed thousands of people in public gatherings, but he was also no more at home than at our soup kitchen when he was in Swansea, (& similar ventures around the world), listening to someone’s story.
 He wasn’t perfect, he was wobbly at times, just like the rest of us all are. An ordinary bloke, but committed to the fire of faith in Christ that burned in his soul to his last breath. May we each be grateful for those who have gone before, inspired us and pointed us to a road that says, ‘things don’t have to stay as they are’.

The following article was John’s last published essay and is as poignant, insightful and as challenging as ever.
 “For the church, as for cancer, the key question is not how fast you are growing but what you are growing.” Rev. Dr. K. John Smith.