A Life of Service
Trevor Archer pays tribute to Brian Sage who served FIEC in various ministries in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. A pioneer church planter and a godly, gracious and humble Christian, Trevor says Brian was an inspirational brother in Christ.
Many of the present-day congregation at Chessington Evangelical Church (CEC is an FIEC church in Kingston, Greater London) will not have known Brian Sage who was called home to Glory last week. Brian, together with his wife June, were key members of the church in the late 1960s though to 1980 and helped set the foundations and direction of the church through their faithful service and prayerfulness.
It is hard to lose him.
I have known Brian and June for more than 50 years. Their friendship, encouragement, example and cheerfulness have been a constant source of inspiration. To me, they are heroic figures.
Long before church planting was popular in Christian circles, Brian and June were pioneer church planters. They had no specific training for the task, never went to a church planting conference and had no specialist expertise – there was simply a passion to make Christ known, to work hard, and to faithfully pray to help new churches.
Whilst Brian was holding down a top job in the Health Service, he and June and their young children were among a group comprising 12 adults who went from CEC to plant Epsom Evangelical Church on the Longmead Estate in the early 1980s. Today it is The King’s Church Epsom, serving a multi-ethnic community from the surrounding area.
When, a few years later, the opportunity came for FIEC to facilitate the establishment of a church on a huge new estate called Bradley Stoke, on the outskirts of Bristol, Brian and June sensed God’s call to go and help. Within a year they were commissioned and sent by the CEC leadership to head up a small group of Christians who came together to start a work in what was then the largest new estate in Britain.
It was a great venture of faith, leaving a secure and well-paid job for the vagaries and heartaches of church planting from scratch. It was hard going and required tenacious stickability but in God’s goodness over the ensuing five years a church was formed and formally established in 1991: Bradley Stoke Evangelical Church.
Today that church has a congregation of nearly 200 people and celebrated its 25th anniversary in November 2016.
They weren’t finished church planting, however! Upon their return to London, Brian and June, though well into their 60`s joined the fledgling Fetcham Community Church to add their wisdom and experience to yet another church plant.
Godly, Gracious and Humble
Yet it’s not for his church planting heroics that Brian should or will be most remembered. No, the deep loss that his dear wife and lovely family feel is that of a godly, gracious, humble and loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather - and friend to all who had the privilege of knowing and working with him.
There was no side to Brian, just a humble desire to serve the Lord and encourage others. In what proved to be the last conversations I had with Brian this year, on every occasion he wanted to know how things were progressing with The Globe Church and what he and June could pray for specifically (I suspect if health had permitted he would have been up for helping establish The Globe!)
Like all of us Brian had his failings and struggles, as he would be the first to admit! But to know Brian was to be in the company of a man who loved Christ, loved the church, loved his family and loved life. Brian was always ready to see the funny side of life and people – an invaluable gift in ministry. He has left a legacy of faithful Christian service and devotion.
As well as church planting with FIEC, Brian also served the Fellowship as Treasurer in the late 1970s and served as Chair of the FIEC LTD Board for many years after being appointed one of the Directors in 1976.
Now he is at home with the Lord. We shall all miss him; June and the family especially.
The first words any of us wish to hear from the Lord upon arriving in Glory is “welcome home, good and faithful servant”, those words will surely have rung in the ears and brought joy to the heart of our dear brother – and ought to bring comfort and hope to ours.
Goodbye dear brother, until we meet again.
Brian Sage’s funeral will take place on the morning of Monday 31 July. This will be for family and close friends but a larger Thanksgiving Service will take place at 12.00 on the 31st at The Kings Centre Chessington.