When I wrote in a recent post (Reality Check) that life is short and fragile, I had no idea that within a couple of weeks, Rob Hall’s untimely death would offer a graphic reminder of the truth of those words.
But there you have it. A good man has gone to be with Jesus, leaving his wife Kate, three children, and an army of family and friends around the world who clearly miss him deeply but who just as clearly were inspired by his life.
I never got to know Rob well. I am much better acquainted with his father Ken, who was a mentor and spiritual father to me for a couple of crucial years about a decade and a half ago when I was walking through an agonizing yet transformational period of transition. I will always be grateful for Ken’s wisdom and unassuming yet authoritative shepherding which provided an anchor for my life at that crucial time. Marion and I and our four children were part of Ken’s church for a season, and I got to know Rob a little bit, partly through talking with him directly, but mostly through my chats with Ken, who evidently loved his sons dearly and had fathered them well. At that time Rob was a young man in his early twenties, and was already involved in co-operative community gardening, combining faith with practice in compelling ways. Before long Marion and I moved to Russell to be involved in planting a DOVE church there, and I never saw Rob again. I knew from Ken that he had been serving as an associate pastor in the Cambridge Vineyard but did not realize that he and his wife and children had left for mission work in Zambia.
News of Rob’s death earlier this week, just a few days shy of his 39th birthday, came as a shock. I couldn’t stop thinking about Ken and Lois, and of course Rob’s wife Kate and their three children. The web site and Facebook page that have been created in memory of Rob have drawn my attention like a magnet, opening my eyes to some of the core passions that fuelled Rob’s life, and introducing me to a vast network of people who knew and loved him.
A few things I have learned about Daniel Robert Hall :
o He loved Jesus, his wife Kate and their three children, people, and God’s creation.
o He was an authentic servant of God, a good listener who knew how to draw out the best in others.
o He could speak truth into situations and get a hearing because he could be truthful without being arrogant, and because he really cared.
o He served with integrity and passion wherever he went.
o He had a bold, entrepreneurial approach to life.
o He had a great sense of humour.
o He loved the King and his coming Kingdom.
o He echoed the values of the Kingdom in his living here and now.
o He had counted the cost of being a disciple of Jesus, and invested his life willingly in God’s enterprises.
A few things I have learned (or been reminded of) this week about living as a servant of God :
o God places high value on integrity and humility, and loves the heart of a genuine servant.
o We often have more impact on others than we know.
o Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:8).
o All of us in a fallen world are under the sentence of death; therefore pain is inevitable.
o Pain is not the worst thing that can happen. Having a deadened heart (living without vision, purpose, or knowledge of God’s call) is far worse.
o Jesus gives life to the dead. Those who trust Him do not need to be afraid of death.
o Hold those you love closely, treat them well, and entrust them to God fearlessly. They don’t belong to you and you don’t know when you may be required to release them into the hands of their loving Father.
o Our hope is in the resurrection of the dead and the restoration of all things.
o Those who love Jesus are called to serve the poor in His name and do works of mercy and justice on the earth.
o Everyone needs to know that Jesus loves them.
o Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
Rob, thank you. I am deeply grateful for your example. Your life has had more of an impact on me than you would have guessed. You are now one of the great cloud of witnesses, spurring me on and calling me forward to finish my race well and to live faithfully, my eyes on the King and his coming Kingdom.