John Chapman, a well-known evangelist associated with the Sydney Anglicans, has died aged 82. Affectionately known as “Chappo”, he was a well-loved gospel preacher for over 50 years. He was the director of the Sydney Anglican Department of Evangelism for more than 25 years.
Besides leading people to Christ one-to-one, preaching at many evangelistic rallies and at university meetings, Chapman wrote several books including “A Fresh Start”, “Know and Tell the Gospel”, “Setting Hearts on Fire”, “A Sinner’s Guide to Holiness”, and “Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life”, all published by Matthias Media. “A Fresh Start”, “Know and Tell the Gospel” have sold tens of thousands of copies.
Sydney Anglicans have issued a comment from Peter Jensen, a long time friend and Archbishop of Sydney. “Chappo represented the very essence of what our diocese has always stood for and continues to stand for. A strong affirmation of the authority of the Bible, the importance of preaching and an approach to evangelism which made it central while at the same time respecting the intelligence and integrity of the listeners. He was a man of faith like Joshua of old, and he lived out his faith with clear godliness of life,” Dr Jensen said.
“Like many others, Christine and I feel the loss acutely. When I visited him on his last day, he reminded me once more that he prayed for us daily. His support for me personally for over 40 years has been an incalculable blessing,” he said.
Bible Society CEO Greg Clarke recalls Chapman’s puckish humour: “John Chapman was God’s man for his time. He brought Aussie larrikinism to evangelism, and it worked. I remember as a boy in Armidale, New South Wales, seeing him kneel for communion just to cry out facetiously, “Hello, altar”, as a way of making a Protestant point! His iconoclasm influenced a couple of generations of Australian Christian leaders. He will be remembered for his lifelong focus on proclaiming the gospel message and our need to turn to God in repentance and faith. That’s a wonderful legacy to leave.”
Chapman died of multiple organ failure at St George Hospital on Friday November 16.
Here is a sample of his writing from “Know and tell the Gospel”: Chappo’s heartfelt plea was always to get each Christian to do just that… to know and tell the Gospel. His style was always pratical with hints of humour – sometimes much more than hints.
“The Christian way is to approach somebody is to do it in a way we would like them to approach us. How do we know if people want us to speak to them? We need to experiment and see. When a man sits next to me in the train I close my paper, smile at him and say”Good day”. He usually indicates in an unmistakeable way , if he wishes the conversation to proceed or stop. If he answers in a mon-syllabic grunt, opens his paper and begins to read, that seems clear guidance to me. I open mine again and read. If he starts speaking, I take it that he wants to , so I listen and make contributions. I know it is in the context of speaking that I might be able to say something Christian with a view to getting around to the gospel….
“I remember the day that I picked up two hitchhikers. One in the morning and one later in the day. I got into friendly and enjoyable conversation with both and I was able to share the gospel with one. With the other it did not seem appropriate to do so within any of the things we discussed. I was willing to share the gospel with both. I prayed for both men as they got in and during the conversation. With one it seemed the most natural thing to do. With the other, every time I vaguely moved toward saying something Christian the conversation took a different turn. Can I trust the sovereign God in both situations? I can, and in both cases I did.Rejoicing that both opportunities had come my way, I committed both situations to God in prayer. I sought to be obedient to God on both occasions and I had treated both men like persons and not like things.”
There will be many Chappo has helped hitchhike to heaven.