(Photo: Langham Partnership International)
Although John Stott has left this earth and gone to his eternal reward, there will be something of John that will remain in the hearts and minds of the many thousands of people who have met him, heard him speak or read his books.
Among his greatest legacies is the building of solid foundations for evangelical Christians to proclaim of the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures, and his ability to do so while also building bridges of Christian unity.
When Stott and Billy Graham first met in 1946 at the end of World War II the world was in ruins physically, emotionally and spiritually. The truths of the Bible were doubted by many church leaders. Most evangelicals were a despised minority in Western Europe and the United States. Both men set out to proclaim the biblical Gospel boldly. Both were faithful to their call. Both worked together in their different spheres for the next sixty years.
John Stott attended All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, as a child. Upon ordination he was appointed as curate in the church and then as Rector. At the time of his death he was still on the staff. He lived in the same area of London all his life.
Yet his vision was much wider than his local church or even his nation. His close support for the World Evangelical Alliance never wavered. Indeed he was one of the founders of the World Evangelical Fellowship in 1951 and served as one of the delegates at its founding conference in the Netherlands. He worked with others on the new constitution and drafted its Preamble, which has been quoted many thousands of times during the years.
As in all he did Dr Stott grounded the purposes of the WEF in Scripture by quoting from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It states that the purpose of the WEF (now WEA) is
• The furtherance of the Gospel (Phil. 1:12)
• The defense and confirmation of the Gospel (Phil. 1:7)
• Our fellowship in the Gospel (Phil. 1:5)
Dr Stott worked closely with the WEA’s Theological Commission for many years. His contributions to the work of the TC were immensely valuable and helped establish solid Biblical training and theology in much of the Majority World.
The WEA has lost one of its founding fathers. We have worked with a giant of the faith. Those who knew him were transformed by his life and witness. There was something about his boldness in proclaiming the truth that rubbed off on you and made you want to do the same, even you were somewhat reticent. What happened on a personal level happened on a worldwide level, too. The whole of the evangelical movement in the past sixty years has been emboldened by his commitment to truth and proclamation.
Although there are many of the 620 million evangelical Christians who have never heard of John Stott, almost without exception they will have been unconsciously changed through his presence in much of what they or their pastors have read from his pen. He will be greatly missed but his ministry continues. The whole of the leadership of the WEA acknowledges with great thankfulness to God the legacy that John Stott has left behind to encourage and guide us.