I recently visited California a few days after Pastor Chuck Smith passed away
. Many around me seemed to be in a state of shock and sorrow, and KWVE radio
(on permanently in many of my friend’s cars!) was broadcasting his sermons all day long. My husband had told me the news over the phone, with tears breaking up his voice.
It didn’t affect me quite so heavily, because I had never really met him and was brought up far away in the UK. However when I started thinking about it, his life has affected me no end.
Grace lived out
The first time I ever heard his name was when a family in Scotland told me about a great book they were all reading by Chuck Smith called ‘Why Grace Changes Everything’. Not long after that I was sitting in a home in England where some friends gave me a book about the beginnings of the Calvary Chapel movement which came out of his church, called ‘Harvest’. And that greatly changed the way I thought about things.
I had been brought up in a traditional church environment, and had a tendency to be critical and judgmental. However this book described how when hippies were converted they wouldn’t tell them to stop all the wrong things that they were involved in because they accepted them as they were and believed in the power of the Word and the Spirit to transform them.
Now of course there is a place for confronting people, but there is also a place (especially with brand new Christians) for having grace and realising that they aren’t there yet and that we are sinners too – just in different ways. Gradually through this and my husband’s example I have been changed through the grace of God to be more gracious to others.
A balanced church
At university I struggled with two extremes of churches, both of which I loved, but because they were at the opposite end of the spectrum I ended up going to both! One was traditional and had great teaching, but it was quite hard to talk to people about God. The other has people that were passionate and everyone was prayerful and loved to talk about God, but the teaching was lacking.
When I was home from university I discovered what I thought was a wonderful balance between those two, in a church that was planted by a group of Calvary Chapel missionaries. They seemed to be alive to the Spirit and were also strong in the Word, and I feel like I grew like a weed (or maybe tree would be more Biblical!) during my time there!
If it hadn’t been for Pastor Chuck Smith, I may never have met my husband! My husband was in California as a young man and was drawn towards church. He went to the Crystal Cathedral one Sunday and was amazed by how quickly everyone got up and walked out at the end!
He told a Christian girl he worked with where he’d gone, whereupon she invited him to her church, which was Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills
. He went there and continued until through hearing the Word he became born again. The first day he got saved he started preaching the gospel and hasn’t stopped since then.
Later he felt called to accompany another missionary to England who started the church that I began attending, and that’s where we met! Then I was able to go on and help him in ministry and we got married.
There are other things that I could tell of that wouldn’t have been in my life if it wasn’t for Calvary Chapel and Chuck Smith. Though I may not have known him personally, Pastor Chuck Smith has been a great influence on me and our family, and I am very grateful.
And through the now international Calvary Chapel movement thousands, maybe millions, have been saved and discipled. Other church planting movements have also modeled their efforts on Calvary Chapel, and what the Holy Spirit started through Chuck Smith is still going around the world today.
This is what Ed Stetzer says about Pastor Chuck Smith’s legacy:
If you are in a contemporary church,
engaging culture, and planting churches,
you are in a sense,
a child of Calvary Chapel and of Chuck Smith.
I would like to quote this verse about him that is also quoted above Robert Murray M’Cheyne
’s grave, who is my hero because he was so passionate for God.
And those who are wise shall shine
like the brightness of the sky above;
And those who turn many to righteousness,
like the stars forever and ever.