SANTA ANA, Calif. – Calvary Chapel founder Pastor Chuck Smith, considered one of the major catalysts of the Jesus Movement of the '60s and '70s, died after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 86 on Thursday.
"My beautiful, beloved, darling Daddy is in Heaven," his daughter Janette Smith Manderson posted on Facebook early Thursday morning. "He has heard the words, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.' Matthew 25:21."
Smith had been undergoing treatments for cancer off and on for almost two years, but had maintained a full schedule of preaching both from the pulpit at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and on a radio talk show heard nationwide.
On a Facebook page with more than 11,000 followers dedicated to praying for Smith while he was ill, Manderson added, "Thank you for your faithful prayers all these months."
Smith, who at one time appeared to be winning his battle with lung cancer, suffered a setback in June, his daughter had announced. Doctors upgraded the severity of his condition after finding cancer cells in fluid in his lungs and he was scheduled to enter the hospital for fluid removal for a second time.
"Prayer warriors, it is time to put on your armor and fight in the spiritual arena," wrote Manderson at that time.
On New Year's Day 2012 during Sunday services, Smith stunned his congregation when he announced that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. However, since his announcement he continued to maintain his schedule of giving Sunday sermons, mid-week Bible studies, and co-hosting the radio show, Pastor's Perspective.
Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Fellowship Church in Riverside, who was one of many Christian leaders influenced by Smith's teaching, stated, "Rarely does a man come along that impacts a generation, but Chuck Smith was that man."
He added, "I can't help but think of the Apostle Paul's words to Timothy, 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.' (2 Tim 4:7-8)"
Laurie, who was encouraged by Smith to launch Harvest Crusades more than 20 years ago, wrote on his Facebook page that there is much more he will say in the days ahead, "but for now let's remember to pray for Chuck's family and his congregation, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa."
"Chuck is now in Heaven, and he will certainly hear the Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant ... Now enter the joy of the Lord!" (Matt.25:23)