Monday, 1 June 2009

A Tribute to Jim Gough

At our conference in April we again had opportunity to share fellowship with our brother Jim Gough and his wife Eileen, whom we had first met in Honiton when Don Fortner came to preach for us back in 2007. Jim had appreciated Don’s ministry for some time and was involved that year, as with this, in arranging meetings for Don in the Wolverhampton/Dudley area. The Gough’s appreciation for the faithful preaching of the gospel was further demonstrated by the fact that this year they first travelled north to the New Focus conference in Egglesburn, before driving the Fortners back to Wolverhampton, and then following those meetings, driving them all the way down to Sidmouth for our own conference.

Following the meetings in Sidmouth, however, Jim had to undergo heart surgery, following a period of poor health. Two days after the surgery the Lord was pleased to call Jim home. We heard of this with heavy hearts, being full of sorrow for Jim’s family and friends, whilst rejoicing with Jim himself who is now with the Lord he loves. We will miss his fellowship.

When he heard about Jim, our brother Don Fortner wrote the following tribute:

A Tribute to Jim Gough
(1942 – 2009)

Shelby and I met Jim and Eileen Gough two years ago in Wolverhampton, England. Our hearts were immediately welded together in the sweet fellowship of the gospel. The Lord took our friend home to Glory Friday night. Very few who read our bulletin will even know the name of this man; and you may be wondering why you are reading about him now. The reason is this: Our God teaches us to give “honour to whom honour” is due. Jim Gough is a cherished friend and was (while he lived on this earth) a faithful servant of God.

Jim was an elder at West Park Evangelical Church in Wolverhampton; but that hardly tells the story of his service to Christ and his people. The West Park Church was formed when Jim, Eileen and a few others saw the need to establish a gospel witness in Wolverhampton. He was devoted to the cause of Christ, frequently preaching the gospel at West Park and in other area chapels. Just last week, he and I spent some time discussing one of his new projects: translating and publishing good books in various Indian dialects.

Though my time with him was very limited, I never spent an hour in the company of Jim Gough that was not edifying and profitable to my soul. What higher compliment could one man give to another? Our mutual friend, Bro. Syd Buggins, wrote to me this morning, saying…

“His whole conversation, especially during the last few years, was all of Christ. He could not pray or preach, but it was full of his Saviour. May we be able to say truly, ‘the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.’ ………… but O the loss!”

Jim and Eileen opened their home, their hearts and their lives to two strangers from America two years ago. They followed us all over England, insatiably absorbing every word preached. When we arrived in Egglesburn this year, we were delightfully surprised to learn that they had (along with Syd and Joan Buggins) rented a van to drive us from meeting to meeting, making it possible for the six of us to spend many hours together discussing the things of God.

One of the last things we spoke of was the fact that so few who preach, preach Christ. Jim was a soft spoken man who hated conflict and went out of his way to avoid confrontation; but his heart was heavy as he spoke. Yet, he spoke with animated excitement as he encouraged me in the blessed work of the gospel. The very last thing he said to me, as we parted company one week ago was, “Bro. Don, be sure to thank your beloved congregation at home for sending you to preach Christ to us.” — Bless God, soon, we shall meet to part no more!

Don Fortner

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