L Jack Dain memorial remarks
Remarks by Leighton Ford at the Thanksgiving Service for A. Jack Dain, May 20, 2003
at St. Michael’s Chester Square, London
There was a sense of command about Arthur Jack Dain, a quality that all who knew and worked with him gladly recognize.
Early last November a phone call came from Janet Dain to say that she thought her father might not last the weekend, for he was sinking. I flew that night to England for a memorable last visit with him. He requested me to join with Bishop Reid in speaking at this thanksgiving service. I promised I would come, and with a twinkle in his eyes he warned: AIf you don’t, there will be an earthquake!
Whether as military officer, missionary executive, churchman, bishop, or chair of so many councils and organizations worldwide, leadership was his role.
Are leaders born or made? In Jack Dain’s case that perennial debate gives way to another question: what made him the leader he was?
The key is in the title of his memoirs: I Rose and Followed, That Was All …, words taken from a chorus he learned as a young man. Jack Dain became a leader by following the Greatest Leader. Like the centurion who came to Jesus he too was a Aman under orders. And that made his leadership attractive.
Jack Dain was providentially shaped for leadership. In a God-fearing Wolverhampton home he learned early the Scriptures which later he would expound so compellingly. He was not without mischief … his parents had to remove him from a Bible class for tieing together the pigtails of the vicar’s daughter! Yet he also recalled a band of blind Chinese Christian musicians whose song Must I Go and Empty-handed? remained with him as a lifelong challenge to witness.
The call of the seas also was a call from the Lord. Joining the Merchant Navy as an apprentice seaman he sailed to thirty countries – surely a time when the seeds of a global ministry were planted. Once in New York Harbor he risked his life by diving into the water in an unsuccessful attempt to save a sailor who had fallen into the dock. It was also during his naval days that he made a personal commitment to Christ in Calcutta, and was called to missionary service at a meeting in Liverpool’s Town Hall.
So, like those first fishermen by the sea of Galilee, Jack Dain, having traveled the oceans of the
world, heard the call of his Lord, and Arose and followed – that was all.
But the all was to result in a life that would be tremendously varied, fascinating, and influential!
After a short pre-war missionary stint in India (during which he fell in love with and married a Scottish
lass named Edith Stuart – romantically enough while they were watching fireworks celebrating the
coronation of King George VI!) – he went into military service, surely one of the few who ever served
as an officer both in the Indian Army and Navy! Interestingly enough, given current events, he fought
in Iraq, leading Gurkha troops to occupy Basra!
Following the war Jack was recruited by the ecumenical pioneer Dr. J. W. Oldham, for a year-long
position with the Christian Frontier Council, a remarkable group of lay leaders, who met to encourage
each other in their public lives. Jack recalled that Dr. Oldham interviewed him over lunch at the
Athenaeun Club. When Oldham, who was very deaf, asked what kind of Christian he was Jack had to
reply in a loud voice: AI am an evangelical Christian! Eyebrows were raised all over that sedate dining
This exposure, though brief, to leaders from varied walks of life, and many different strands of the
church was a bridge to Jack Dain’s lifelong passion for evangelical cooperation … a commitment
we here today honor … recognizing that he Arose and followed … that was all.
His following led him to three additional areas of his service: his leadership in the World Evangelical
Fellowship; his long association with Billy Graham; and his significant role in the Lausanne movement.
From its early years he was involved with the World Evangelical Fellowship because, as he recalled AI
had a passion for real fellowship … to preach and believe in and work for the unity of all believers
against the things that divided. So when the World Evangelical Fellowship was constituted in the
Netherlands in 1951 Jack Dain was present. Indeed he and John Stott were sitting together when Stott
opened his Bible to Philippians and read out Paul=s words that were to become the watchwords of
WEF: the furtherance, the defense, and the fellowship of the gospel. Stott dictated them, and Dain
wrote them down. AHe was the head, I the hands as he put it.
Jack Dain became the Honorary Overseas Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance, and with John Stott
the Honorary Co-Secretary of the WEF.
Again, he Arose and followed … that was all.
That sense of partnership in the gospel led to another association. He was involved in inviting Billy
Graham to Harringay in 1954, and organized the counselling for the Wembley Stadium crusade the
During the Wembley week Jack met with Billy to advise on a possible visit to India. He took a white
paper napkin, drew a map of India and marked the cities he suggested as strategic for the visit. He then
accompanied the team for what he described as Aan important milestone in the life and witness
of the whole Christian Church in India.
In his memoirs he recalls the final night scene at Pallamcotta where he stood on the platform,
beside Bishop Leslie Newbigin. Together they watched as the hundreds of people responding were brought into a large area, divided by men and women into groups of ten … (sitting) in small circles with one counsellor in the middle together with a kerosene lamp and a large open Bible.
Those events began a lifelong friendship with Billy Graham and involvement in his ministry. He
chaired the crusade in Sydney, and his personal influence helped to bring about remarkable
inter-church cooperation. Through his leadership innovations also were made in the crusade set up –
including announcements that those brought by friends were not expected to give to the offering (a
bold step given the million dollar plus budget), and a follow-up scheme so effective that a year later
eighty per cent of the Anglicans who went forward were involved in their local churches.
Bishop Dain also served for many years as chairman of the Graham Association in Australia, and often
brought Bible studies at the Graham team meetings.
As Billy Graham said in a recent conversation: “Jack Dain is one of the greatest Christians I ever met … one of the best counselors I ever had.”
I dare say that was because he Arose and followed … that was all.
In the early 70’s that trusted relationship also brought Jack Dain into one of his most significant
responsibilities: the executive chairmanship of Lausanne 74 which brought more than 2600
participants to Switzerland in the summer of 1974 for a congress described by Time magazine as
perhaps the most influential gathering of evangelical Christians ever to assemble.
Whether that was journalistic overstatement or not, the Lausanne Congress, the Lausanne Covenant,
and the work of the Lausanne Continuation Committee, gave a strong impetus to evangelical
cooperation and changed the conversations about world missions.
One of the lasting images of Lausanne 74 for many of us was the photo of Billy Graham and Jack
Dain together signing the historic Lausanne Covenant. It is a fitting memory, for without Billy
Graham=s vision, organizational base and funding the Congress would never have been held.
Likewise, without Jack Dain’s expert and strong chairmanship, the Congress would never have come
together as it did.
It was my privilege, as a relatively young man, to serve as chairman of the Program Committee, and as
a member of the international planning committee. It was a diverse group with strong opinions! I was
exposed there to Jack’s incomparable executive leadership – an amazing ability to grasp a mass of
detail while never forgetting the big picture … an equally impressive capacity to keep up
correspondence … great wisdom in dealing with strong personalities and prickly issues … a sense of
dependence on God that brought a prayerful focus to all we did … knowledge of people and churches
and issues all over the world.
As a younger man what impressed me, however, was his genuineness and integrity as our leader. He
could stand for what he felt was right, but always with respect for others. I recall a heated debate as
to whether there should be a major session on the Holy Spirit and world evangelism. Some wer
very afraid the topic would divide the congress. Others, including myself and program director Paul
Little were quite convinced otherwise. Jack, as an elder statesman, strongly supported us younger
men, and a well-received session concerning the Holy Spirit was on the agenda.
Similarly when the Lausanne Continuation Committee first met in Mexico City to plan its future
course, there was a strong disagreement. Some wanted the committee to focus on evangelism in a
narrower sense. Others felt that the mandate of the Congress and the Covenant was to further the
whole biblical mission of the church, in which evangelism is primary.
The debate was heated, the feelings strong. The Lausanne movement could have foundered at
that point, if it had not been for the strength of resolve shown by Bishop Dain, among others. He
said that if the committee were to retreat from the Congress mandate he would not be able to
continue as chairman. It was a difficult stand for him to take, because at that point he was differing
to some extent with his beloved friend Billy Graham. Later Billy himself graciously agreed with the
majority decision to opt for the wider view.. Jack after wrote to Billy to assure him of his loyalty. In
reply Billy wrote, ANothing could ever come between us. I hope we can be next-door neighbors in
To Jack Dain the chairing of the Congress and its aftermath was the Acrowning experience@ of his
own long ministry. Within three months of the Congress invitations had come to him to speak at post-
Lausanne follow-ups in thirty to forty countries. As never before Lausanne put him on the world
scene. His place as a world statesman for the cause of Christ and the gospel was clear.
Just as clear were his hopes and prayer for the church as he expressed them to me last fall:
– a longing for the church to be biblically based, and fed on the Word of God
– for its leaders to be concerned for majority issues, not minority one
– and to be concerned for the wider good, not narrow groupings
So we thank God today for Jack Dain, a leader who Arose and followed …that was all.
Jack loved his Lord above all, and the work of ministry. But he also loved his friends and family. He
was a man=s man, and could hold his own on world affairs or Wimbledon! He was also a woman=s
man. He was as interested in talking to my wife Jeanie about her interests and family as in talking to
me about ministry! The six women closest to his heart -Edith, his beloved wife for forty-seven years,
and their four daughters, Sheila, Maureen, Alison, and Janet, and Hester his second wife who shared
with him such blessed and happy later years his beloved second wife Hester – made his life complete!
He could not have been the man he was without the love and support from both Edith and Hester.
I am sure they will be understanding if I say that Jack was also a father to me. He had no son, and in a sense I think we adopted each other when Edith in her last illness asked me to help take care of Jack when she was gone. It has been one of my greatest joys to have had that closer relationship for these many years. And so today I carry in my heart today both the pang of loss … of knowing I will not hear him say “Every blessing” at the close of each phone call … but also the joy and gratitude for having known him.
When I visited with him late last year, after we had discussed his international ministry I asked what
had brought him the greatest joy in ministry. Without hesitation he answered, “My pastoral work as a
bishop in Sydney. When I became a bishop I made a commitment to visit the home of all the clergy in
my area once a year, and to have a meal with them.” That was 107 parishes!
And when I asked his greatest regret he said, AI wish I could have done even more pastorally, in the spiritual care of my clergy.
Imagine, I thought: here is a man of global influence and understanding. He had the ability to be a
high-ranking military man or diplomat. Yet his greatest joy was to be a pastor to clergy! That says
something of the servant nature of his leadership … the kind of shepherd he was.
Before I left for the airport that last morning I walked through the village of Lindfield to say goodbye to
Jack and Hester goodbye. Along the path I opened my Bible to the reading of the day, which was
Ezekiel=s scathing description of the kind of shepherds who live off the sheep, not for them. AWoe to
the shepherds who only take care of themselves@ the Lord said. AI am against the shepherds and will
hold them accountable …I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. (See Ezekiel 34:1ff).
As I pondered those words on my walk to Jack and Hester=s house I came across a sign near the close
where they lived, which said ALeading to Green Meadows. And in my heart I said AThank you, Lord,
for Jack, a shepherd, a true pastor, who has led so many to the green meadows of their spiritual home,
and who will now soon be there himself!
We had a final goodbye at his bedside. I read those words from Ezekiel, and added Jesus= own words
about the good shepherd from John 10. When I came to the place where Jesus said, AI have other
sheep which are not of this sheep fold … Jack broke in, and murmured:
Them also I must bring.
There was the voice of the true shepherd, the missionary, the bishop with a heart to lead like Jesus and
Then, in a final touch, as I was reading he looked at his watch and said, ATime to go to the airport!
He was Jack all the way. Still commanding! Still caring! And still leading on!
He rose and followed – that was all! And that has been enough!
But in the green meadows of God there is more still to come!