In light of Pastor Appreciation month, I am going to take a few days and write about some of my favorite ministers of the past. These men lived lives whose stories should inspire and encourage us all. No matter if we are in the ministry or just trying our best to serve Jesus, days get lonely and times can be tough.
I trust the stories of these men will encourage and uplift you.
This man sits at the top of my list.
Simeon was one who on the outside you would have thought had it all together. He was born to privilege and enjoyed a life of wealth in the late 1700s. Yet all the money in the world could not bring happiness nor was it able to keep his mother alive. Losing her early in life greatly affected him. After the passing of his mother, it was the logical choice of his father (a wealthy lawyer) to put Charles in an English prep school. Simeon would later say, that he would rather murder his own son than allow him to see the evil that took place in that school!
He then earned the right to attend King’s College in Cambridge. It was there that he came to Christ at age nineteen. From that time on Simeon’s life would never be the same.
After graduation and age twenty-four he was placed by the Bishop of Ely into the pastorate of Holy Trinity Church. As exciting as this was for him it was not for the members. They were so opposed to this move by the Bishop that they hired their own pastor, paid him twice the amount of what Simeon was getting, and had him preach in the same church on Sunday afternoons. Those same members locked their rented pews and would not allow any morning attendees to sit in them. As a result, all who attended had to sit in the aisle on benches Simeon rented with his own funds. He was even locked out of his own church on Sunday nights to prevent him from doing evening services.
He was attacked by angry mobs on various occasions. He exited different doors of the church to escape being beaten. He was greeted with rotten eggs after leaving church one Sunday. It was not unusual for the Sunday morning crowd to have stones thrown at them and harassed.
This trial lasted twelve years before Charles was able to have what we would consider a normal ministry.
How did he endure these long tedious years and why?
1. He was sure of his calling.
When we face difficult days, months, or even years, many times the only truth holding us together is knowing we are exactly where God wants us to be.
I know the apostle Paul was ready to leave many times when God encouraged him to stay. One such place was Corinth. Paul had no idea how two Jews (Aquila and his wife Priscilla) would one day impact his ministry. God did. Paul only knew there was a lot of opposition and it was time to go. It was then that God came to him and said, “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).
2. He knew His hope was in God alone.
When we put our faith and trust in man we will soon be disappointed. Simeon was a man who found hope and solace in God and His Word. He knew the only way to sustain the disdain was renewing His mind daily in the Word and prayer. He would regularly rise at 4am to begin his day with prayer and Bible reading.
3. He made the most of his situation.
Despite being locked out of his church and limited in what he could do early on at Holy Trinity, he did not let that stop his ministry of the Word.
Charles taught young men how to preach on Sunday afternoons. He held early morning Bible studies in barns for the farmers. He would regularly preach in small village churches. He started a youth group and began meeting in “small groups” since there was limited access to his services.
He did not allow the circumstances to keep him down.
The end of the story.
The community closed their stores, the campus canceled classes, and two thousand people showed up for the funeral of Charles Simeon on November 13, 1836.
He remained faithful to Holy Trinity Church and Kings College for fifty-four years. His fingerprints are still on various ministries that continue today.
Charles Simeon, thank you for faithfully preaching God’s Word despite opposition!