Memories of Chappo

When a great one like John Chapman goes home, we struggle to express our appreciation and sense of loss. Words like warrior, champion and hero come to mind.

But somehow with Chappo, these seem too grandiose and serious. For although the extent of his ministry and influence and legacy can scarcely be exaggerated, neither can his personal warmth and exuberance and sense of fun. He taught us how to evangelize, how to preach, how to think theologically about ministry, how to pursue holiness and plenty more besides, but he also taught us that life was to be lived with laughter, joy and thanksgiving, even in the midst of our hardships.

For me, as for so many evangelicals in Sydney and around the world, it is hard to believe that he is gone. He has been a constant godly presence in our lives for so many decades. In fact, I think I still expect the phone to ring sometime later today, and to hear him to say as he always did, “Why Tony, how lovely to hear your voice.”

I suppose we will still hear his voice, at least through his many books and DVDs and recorded sermons. Here at MM, it has been one of our great joys over the past 15 years to be able to publish his books, starting with the new edition of A Fresh Start and concluding just a few short months ago with his final book, appropriately titled Making the Most of the Bible.

We’re planning a special edition of The Briefing early next year to remember Chappo and to reflect on his legacy. In the meantime, do you have a story to tell, or a particular aspect of Chappo’s life and ministry you want to celebrate?

What are your memories of Chappo?



12 thoughts on “Memories of Chappo

  1. Chappo helped me to unravel the mystery of the Book of Revelation when he spoke at YLC in Christchurch, NZ (I think it was 2009). He took a book that I didn’t want to touch with a barge pole and showed how clearly Jesus was speaking through it. His down-to-earth approach and sense of humour made his super accessible. I was blessed by his commitment to Bible teaching and his willingness to get alongside me one on one over that week.

  2. Brother, that was a great sermon. In fact there was enough material for 5 great sermons. So why did you give it to me all at once?!

    A favourite piece of Chappo feedback, repeated not once but many times.

  3. I remember Chappo visiting our old Matthias Media offices in Kingsford on one occasion. We had a long corridor, which passed by several of our offices. As he was heading to the last office (Tony’s), at each office door Chappo paused, and with a mischievous grin and a papal flourish of the hand, he looked in and said “A blessing for you… and a blessing for you.”

    More seriously, I still remember Chappo teaching (at a Katoomba Convention perhaps?) that when life seems hard, and he is tempted to just chuck it all in as a Christian, he says to himself “Is there some new evidence, Chappo, that Jesus didn’t in fact die and rise again? Well, if not, then just get on with it.” And he did just get on with it, by all reports.

  4. I first heard Chappo speak at Southampton Uni (UK) back in 1988. I remember vividly his explanation of the gospel from 1 Thessalonians 1: 9-10. A model of clarity. Subsequently “Know and tell the gospel” became my evangelism training manual. Even at the time (back in my arrogant youth of 1988) I thought to myself, “Boy this guy is old, was he born old?”

    I next came across him when he was my group leader at a Theologs conference in the UK back in 1995. He was, again, an inspiration. In his long shorts and long socks he was a breath of fresh air – he didn’t care what others thought of him, he just cared about encouraging others to follow Christ.

    Thanks be to God for his gifts to his church!

  5. I love this Chappo quote (which comes courtesy of an old Sola Panel post by Paul Grimmond):

    “Dear brother, we have lost the whole concept of hearing from God when we read the Bible. I asked a well-taught, ministry-minded young man the other day when he felt he was closest to God. He answered, ‘When I’m praying’. I said to him, ‘So you’re closest to God when you’re talking and God is listening! What about when God is talking and you’re listening?'”

  6. John Chapman (Chappo) was a man of great ability in explaining the scriptures and keeping it simple for us folk sitting in the pew I first heard him at our South West Sydney Anglican Church over 20 years ago when he was invited to preach, I also heard him at the Liverpool evangelistic rallies and also in the Sydney Synod (where he always focused us on the real mission each of us are involved in). I now attend a small country Baptist Church in NW Tasmania and when I told the person leading our service last Sunday that Chappo had finally gone to be with our great God he announced it to all attending, it is interesting the lives he touched with his clear explanation of the gospel of Jesus, there were several people in that small congregation who spoke to me after church about his influence on their life, some came to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour at the Liverpool rallies, some heard him at the Katoomba Convention and others met him personally and were encouraged by his humble manner and fervour for the gospel of Jesus. We can thank our great God for men like Chappo.

  7. Two quotes:

    The fist – designed to skewer the unrealistic expectations of the young preacher: “Brother – there are maybe three men in the whole world who can preach for 50min…. what makes you think that you are one of them?”.

    The second to encourage the young preacher when they realise they’re not quite as great as their Mum thinks they are: “The first fifty years are the hardest”

  8. Chappo to Ray Galea after hearing a tape of Ray’s 38min sermon:
    “What were you thinking? That was way too long. …etc.”
    Me (naively) to the defense of Ray:
    “Chappo, two people became Christians through that talk”
    “Yes, and imagine how many would have repented if it was half the length!!”

  9. So many great memories of a great evangelist and teacher. But my favourite is of John on the floor with my small boys playing cars and later outside with my oldest teaching him to set fire to paper with a magnifying glass and the sun.

  10. SO many memories, but here is one. I remember Chappo preaching at a guest service at Condell Park in the early 80’s. Halfway through the sermon a massive Huntsman spider ran out from under the seat causing associated mayhem. Afterwards Chappo asked, ‘Brother, what WAS going on up the back?’ I said, ‘when you started preaching a spider got up and left’. He said, ‘Oh well, we all know where he’ll end up’.

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