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IN MEMORY OF DR. TIMOTHY LIN
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A eulogy given in Dr. Lin's funeral service at
Dear brothers and sisters, when Dr. Benny Wong asked me to speak in this service I was very surprised. I am deeply honored to be here with my wife and my sons, Mr. Gene Wilkerson and some of the Chinese leaders from our church.
It was a real privilege, as a young man, for me to teach Sunday School, preach in Junior Church, teach Training Union and preach in various vacation Bible schools and other evangelistic meetings here at the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles. It was a high point of my life to be under Dr. Lin’s ministry during the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival at this church in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I can say, without the slightest hesitation, that Dr. Lin was the most outstanding minister I have ever known. He stood out in every way – as a preacher, as an Old Testament scholar and master of Biblical Hebrew, as a translator of God’s Word, as the pastor of a great church, and as the president of China Evangelical Seminary in Taiwan. I thank God for letting me know this truly great man, Dr. Timothy Lin.
I came to this church in January, 1961 as a twenty-year-old unsaved youth who felt strangely called to be a missionary to the Chinese. After I was saved at Biola University that September, Dr. Lin baptized me. He has been my pastor ever since. He ordained me as a preacher of the Gospel on July 2, 1972, chairing my ordination committee here at the church. Although I went on to graduate from three seminaries, I can truthfully say that Dr. Lin taught me everything I know about being a pastor. He taught me to believe and trust the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. He taught me how to make a sermon outline. He taught me systematic theology. Dr. Lin taught me all the important things. Although he was very hard on me at times, I realize that I owe everything to him. He was not only my father in the ministry, but also like a real father to me. I loved him deeply. I told him that many times. It touched my heart when he said to me, “Bob, among all the Caucasian pastors you are my closest friend.”
Pastor Wong asked me to mention some of the ways that Dr. Lin affected my ministry and our church. As I was thinking about this during the last few days, one of the young people in our church sent me a sympathy card in which he said, “I know that much of your ministry and character is a reflection of this wonderful man of God.” One of our leaders wrote to me saying, “May Dr. Lin’s instruction and counsel continue to guide you in your ministry.”
Here, then, are several things that Dr. Lin taught me. He taught me to be sure that I was called, that no man should enter the ministry without a definite assurance that God has chosen him to be a pastor. He taught me that a pastor’s most important duty is to know, without a doubt, what God wants him to preach each Lord’s Day. He taught me the importance of fasting and prayer to obtain the message each week. He said, “If a pastor receives the message from God every Lord’s day, the sermon he preaches will make a significant difference” (Timothy Lin, Ph.D., The Secret of Church Growth, pp. 22-23). I have found that advice to be one of the most helpful things I learned from Dr. Lin.
Through Dr. Lin’s teaching, our church has learned that Christians must love one another. Only by self-sacrificing love can Christians in a church experience God’s presence among them. Dr. Lin also taught us the danger of accepting unsaved people as members, because the church must be holy. He taught us that the deacons and other leaders of the church must conduct themselves as role models. He said that the women of the church will not be any higher in spirituality and service than the pastor’s wife. That thought has made a significant impact on my own wife. Many people call her the “mother” of our church. He taught us that the church should be like a second home to young people, and that the future of any church always lies with the young. In many ways, Dr. Lin paid special attention to the young people of this church while I was here. I have tried to follow his example. I often tell people, as a joke, that I am the oldest youth pastor in North America!
Dr. Lin also taught us not to ask for money from lost people. In every service I tell those who are visitors not to put any money in the plate. Offering our money is a way of worshipping God, and we should not beg for offerings from unbelievers. The members of our church have learned to give sacrificially to the Lord from Dr. Lin’s example. Another thing we have learned from Dr. Lin is that “the acceptance of new members ought to be very strict. Before baptizing or accepting a person as part of the Body of Christ the church should first investigate the following. Has he been truly born again? Have his priorities, thoughts and values been changed?” (Dr. Timothy Lin, ibid., pp. 60-61). But the most important thing we have learned from Dr. Lin is the necessity of seeking God’s presence in the church through prayer, especially through united prayer in the church prayer meetings. Dr. Lin warned that the churches would lose the faith of prayer, and prayer meetings would close “on the eve of [Christ’s] second coming” (Dr. Timothy Lin, ibid., p. 95). Because of Dr. Lin’s teaching on prayer, our church has two prayer meetings, and one day of fasting and prayer each week. These are some of the things we have learned from Dr. Timothy Lin.
Dr. Lin often spoke at our church. Summer before last he taught the young people as well as the adults for three days in our camp. Dr. Lin was scheduled to speak for us again this fall. A few days after he went into the hospital, earlier this month, he said to our deacon, Dr. Chan, “Tell Dr. Bob that I will preach for him again as soon as I get out of here.” Well, he “got out of there” – to be with Christ! I will not get to hear him preach again until we enter the Kingdom. I wish it could be sooner! The last time he spoke at our church was earlier this year, on Easter Sunday evening. I had the honor of serving him the Lord’s Supper!
I visited Dr. Lin in the hospital on the afternoon before he passed away, with my wife, our deacon Dr. Chan, and our Chinese translator Mr. Song. We sang a stanza of “Amazing Grace” to him, as we stood by his bedside.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
I read to him Philippians 1:6, which was his life verse, with Mr. Song translating into Chinese. He raised his eyebrows and opened his eyes as I read that verse: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Dear pastor, I thank God that He did perform that good work until the day He took you home to be with the Saviour. I love you, pastor, with all my heart and soul and mind. I long for the day when we will be together again, when “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Dear pastor, all honor to God, who made your life a blessing to thousands of churches, and uncountable numbers of people throughout the world, among whom was this humble missionary, your grateful student, Robert Hymers. Amen.
(END OF MESSAGE)
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