(Image: Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa)
A massive public memorial service for Pastor Chuck Smith planned for this Sunday (Oct. 27) includes a long list of influential Christian leaders and musicians who are scheduled to pay tribute to the gifted preacher credited for being instrumental in both the Calvary Chapel and "Jesus People" movements.
"I look forward to celebrating a life well lived," said evangelist Greg Laurie, who told The Christian Post he was asked to give the Gospel message at the 18,000-seat Honda Center arena in Anaheim, Calif. The memorial service will also be available for viewing by free live webcast. More than 420 churches around the world have registered to host the service via the webcast.
Smith, who was the pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, died after a battle with lung cancer in the early morning hours of Oct. 3 at the age of 86. He was active as a preacher from the pulpit and in his ministry up until the very end of his life.
In addition to Laurie, other speakers planned include pastors Jon Courson, Don McClure, Bob Coy, Tom Stipe, Raul Ries, and hosts Pastor Brian Brodersen and his wife, Cheryl. Musical artists scheduled to perform are Jeremy Camp, Phil Wickham, Love Song, Mustard Seed Faith, Parable, Dennis Agajanian, and Malcolm and Alwyn.
Laurie, who says he was "one of those Jesus People" who came to Smith decades ago to learn how to be a follower of Christ, said his more than 40-year friendship and ministry work together brings back a lot of memories.
"A few years ago, I had lunch with Pastor Chuck and asked him the question, 'If an older Chuck could speak to a younger Chuck, what would he say?' In other words, what words of advice would he give a younger man about life and ministry? Chuck thought about it for a moment, and then replied, 'Hold the course,'" Laurie shared. "Chuck has now finished the course he ran for so many years. I trust the Lord has already said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!'
When asked about how Smith's followers should move forward in their lives now that the highly respected pastor is no longer leading the Calvary Chapel movement, Laurie answered, "I think that Chuck impacted so many, many lives over the years. Some of those early 'Jesus people' did not 'hold the course' in their spiritual life. I think the greatest tribute we could pay to Chuck is to get back to that close relationship with God that he so treasured."
Asked to share how he has recalled Pastor Chuck since his death, Laurie said he has so many memories of adventures together, but one story comes to mind.
"In 1992, I was in Hawaii with Chuck Smith. We were there for a Harvest Crusade and all was going well, when we were awaken by the news of the approach of a powerful hurricane coming our way. It was Hurricane Iniki," Laurie said.
"We were told of massive tsunami waves that were potentially coming our way. I was there with my wife, Cathe, and our youngest son, Jonathan. So, I jumped in my car and went to get food and supplies. Everything at the market was effectively sold out. The only place I could find open was a Subway sandwich shop, where I proceeded to purchase about 20 sandwiches. (I'm not sure what good they would have done, but it's all I could think of at the moment.)," he explained.
"I returned to where we were staying and knocked on Chuck's door (his room was next to mine). He was cooking some kind of stew, as I recall, and he was as cool as a cucumber. While everyone else was panicking, Chuck was relaxed, and it just amazed us all.
"The local Christian radio station there on Oahu called and asked Chuck to pray, which he did. He confidently reminded people that God was in control and to not worry," Laurie said. "As it turned out, Hurricane Iniki did come toward Oahu, but it took a turn and primarily hit the island of Kauai, where it just so happened they were filming Jurassic Park.
"Chuck's calmness spread to us all and so we took off to the highest point so we could see the massive waves coming, which never did come. So, Chuck and I spent the rest of the day playing tennis (he won).
"This to me is a picture of Chuck the man – calm in the midst of chaos."
For more information about the memorial, including the free live webcast, click here: http://pastorchucksmith.com/.