Pastor Bailey: A Reflection

11 06 2012

I got word from my best friend late this afternoon in a text message.  It was laconic, simply informing me that our Bible school chancellor from twenty years ago had passed away.

To the world at large he was Rev. Brian J. Bailey.  To others, simply Br. Bailey.  To us who were his students, he was Pastor Bailey.  To his wife Audrey, who preceded him in death in the autumn of 1994 and to whom he is now reunited, simply Brian.

He was an Englishman.  He fought in World War II with the Royal Air Force.  His family endured the Battle of Britain, suffering property damage from German bombs.  As a young man, he surrendered his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and set out upon a life of adventure, all in the service of his Master.  He traveled to many, many countries in the world, usually as a speaker at pastor’s conferences.

Twenty years ago, a fair number of us shared in his life on a daily basis.  We attended a small, mountaintop ministerial college in New York’s Southern Tier mountains—Zion Ministerial Institute—and saw Pastor Bailey every day, except when he traveled.  He was always impeccably dressed.  In fact, in the hundreds of times I saw and interacted with him, only once did I see him without a necktie.  It was a standard of excellence he set for us.  Perhaps a standard from a different era, one might counter, but it made a big impression on us.

He was very well read and articulate.  He always shared stories from the field which served to illustrate, rather effectively in my opinion, the points he strove to make in his lectures and sermons.

One of the biggest impressions he made upon all of us was his relationship with his wife Audrey—Sister Bailey to us students.  Mrs. Bailey had been recently impaired by a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair.  We watched this man, in his mid sixties at the time, lovingly look after his wife day after day—wheeling her all over the campus, bringing students into their modest apartment for visits and our little ones in for Kit-Kat bars.  Always tenderness.  I’ll never forget it.

We learned plenty of things about the Scriptures under Pastor Bailey’s tutelage.  But more than that, we learned practical lessons for life and ministry. [Note: I was a church pastor for about sixteen years upon graduation from ZMI.] One of Pastor Bailey’s assignments was running a hotel and school for the blind in Switzerland during the 1950’s.  He used this experience to teach us future pastors about hotel management and business matters.  He was an intensely practical man.

In my mind, I can still hear the cadence of his British accent when he’d begin a point with “Now then…” and “The thing is this….”  We all tend to imitate our heroes and mentors.  One of my laughable pulpit imitations—not consciously, mind you—was saying “Isaiah” in a British accent (eye-ZYE-ah).  All in innocence.  There are friends who will not let me live this down.  But it’s been oft said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

He was a remarkable leader and has followers all over the world.  Did he have faults and make mistakes during his life and ministry?  Of course he did.  He’d be the first to tell you that.  We all do.  But it was the life he lived before us that made such a lasting impression.  Such is the impact of a leader.

He was 87 years old and in failing health.  Kath and I had the opportunity just one week ago to have lunch with his caretaker, a friend of ours and family to my best friend.  This lady, a fine nurse in her own right, spent the years after Mrs. Bailey’s passing looking after her bereaved husband and the school.  We were able to send on our love to Pastor Bailey, who knew we’d all be gathering for lunch.

He is gone now but his impression remains.  And will so until our time comes.

Thank you, Pastor Bailey, for all you gave us.  We will not forget you.

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)

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16 responses

12 06 2012
Dan

Chris,

Well wriiten, kind and gracious as only you can. Bro. Bailey was a great man. Who positively affected so many lives.

Dan

12 06 2012
Christian Fahey

Thank you Dan (Caram?) for reading. Pastor Bailey had an enormous impact on so many of us and his standard of excellence that he set–especially in deportment, propriety, the importance of Scripture and of a Church separated from the world. All that is so very needed today. Let us carry the torch. Thanks again for reading!

12 06 2012
Greg Jankowski

I liked his saying when he was upset. “O my, my, my”. I use to this day. 🙂

13 06 2012
Christian Fahey

I remember that one Greg! Thanks for reading!

13 06 2012
Rebecca Russell

A wonderful tribute to a tribute to a great man. Well said.
Rebecca Russell

13 06 2012
Christian Fahey

Thank you Rebecca! Hope you and Gerald are well.

14 06 2012
Daniel Benjamin

Hi, Ps. Bailey surely had had great impact more than he could imagine. His books were translated into Indonesian and spread through nation-wide. A woman in remote place of Irian Jaya Papua island told her expression. “I cried unstoppable for minutes hearing this. He has been my spiritual mentor since I was university student until now, his books influenced my critical decisions, my attitude, and my vision. Although I never meet him personally, I feel something empty in my heart. Thank you for all you have done.”

14 06 2012
Christian Fahey

Thanks for reading, Daniel. It’s quite a legacy to influence so many people over such a big world. Pastor Bailey will surely be missed!

14 06 2012
Tim OConnell

Hi Chris, I was very moved at your well written tribute. I had the privilege of witnessing first hand as a fellow student the very things you shared. It could not have been stated any better. He truly laid a firm foundation for us to seek to build upon. May we be faithful.
Blessings, Tim and Joanne

14 06 2012
Christian Fahey

Tim, so nice hearing from you. I remember those days and you were very much a part. Pastor Bailey had such a big impact on all of us. Thanks for reading and best to you and Joanne.

16 06 2012
C.R. Mooney

My one memory of Brother Bailey was when I was helping to build the expansion onto the gym or something like that,a bunch of the guys were hammering shingles I believe and Brother Bailey hit his thumb and let out this incredible string of nonsense very loudly. Everyone stopped and looked at him and he said something along the lines of, “It can’t be swearing if it’s in tongues.” We all laughed. lol

17 06 2012
Christian Fahey

Very nice, Moon. I can completely see Pastor Bailey doing that. Thanks for sharing!

5 07 2012
Karabo Rantwa

He was a good writer and had good knowledge of the Word. I do not know him first hand but I heard a lot about him from Pastor Ron Courier in Swaziland where I trained.

5 07 2012
Christian Fahey

He was a pretty special man, Karabo. I was able to learn from him quite a few things in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Thank you for reading!

30 07 2013
5 Hour Energy Crash

Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up.

The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Chrome.
I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
The layout look great though! Hope you get the issue solved soon.
Thanks

30 07 2013
Christian Fahey

Hmm…. Thank you for the feedback. I format this in Firefox. As I have time, I will look into it and see if there’s a workaround solution. Thank you for stopping by!

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