Yesterday Pastor Chuck Smith, who founded Calvary Chapel, went home to be with the Lord.  If you aren’t familiar with him or Calvary Chapel, I’ll give you a little history. 

Chuck Smith began as a pastor for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in the 1950’s. 

In the 60’s, Chuck’s wife, Kay, began to have a burden for the youth who were entering the generation of sex, drugs and rock and roll.  It was long hair, bare feet, tie dye and everything was groovy.  They were in the thick of the Vietnam War, God was dead, and they didn’t trust anybody over 30.

Chuck and Kay began praying for the youth, and then they began inviting them to church. 

When some of the so-called hippies did come, as the infamous story goes, they were met with a sign that said “No Bare Feet Allowed” because new carpeting had just been installed. Chuck tore down the sign and said he’d rather rip out the new carpeting than turn those kids away. 

He soon left that church and began pastoring a small, non-denominational church called Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California.  He began expository teaching of the Bible and the traditional worship music of the past became underscored with guitars and drums. 

The youth started coming in droves. 

Pastor Chuck, pointing a generation to Jesus

Suddenly, a close-to-middle-aged man was heading up what would become known as the greatest revival of our time called The Jesus Movement. 

Scores of young people were getting saved and baptized in the California ocean.  They became known as “Jesus Freaks.”  They left the hippie lifestyle and lived to worship Jesus and passionately tell others about how He died for them, too.  Calvary Chapel also started an outreach of worship called Maranatha! Music, which I think is some of the best worship music ever recorded. 

The movement of the Holy Spirit during this time was a phenomenon the likes of which most had never seen.  In the time since, over a 1000 Calvary Chapels have been established worldwide, along with many Calvary Chapel Bible Colleges.   

One of those Calvary Chapels was established in the 1980’s.  Through a long series of events, my husband and I found ourselves there one Sunday morning in 1989.  And it was that morning that I met my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We attended that church for 22 years. 

So even though I didn’t know Pastor Chuck personally, although we did have the opportunity to see him teach once while we were on vacation, I deeply felt his passing. Without Calvary Chapel, I don’t know where I’d be right now. 

Oh, I know God could have led me to another church, but there was something about the atmosphere of Calvary.  That same powerful presence of the Holy Spirit that was there in the 60’s was there in the 80’s, and He moved my heart in a way that I became not just saved, but radically saved. 

But life happens, and sometimes years of so much “life” has a way of allowing discouragement to set in. And as I get older I feel myself slowing down.   

But as I reflected on Pastor Chuck’s life through a barrage of Facebook posts from so many who loved and admired him, and seeing all the lives he touched, my faith was energized.  We have so little time and so much to do.  Pastor Chuck was 86 at his passing, but really, his life went by so quickly. 

I could imagine Chuck Smith standing there before Jesus as they gazed into each other’s eyes, knowing all they’d been through together.  Knowing that, while Chuck wasn’t perfect (who is?), he was obedient to Christ’s call on his life.

And that’s all God asks any of us.  He doesn’t ask us to be another Chuck Smith or Billy Graham.  He just asks us to obey Him, and let Him take care of the results. 

So with that, I say with Paul:

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:20-21
 

 

A short but honest look at how I came to Christ at that Calvary Chapel in 1989 will be one of 40 stories featured in a book of testimonies that will be published before the end of the year.  I believe the book will be inspiring to those who already know Christ, and instrumental to bring many unsaved to faith in our precious Lord.  I’ll keep you updated on the details.  I hope you’ll get a copy for yourself and somebody you love.