Tribute to Eddie Fox

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints, declares Psalm 116:15.   This is a verse which surprises us with a different understanding of death than what we typically think of.  For us, death is not normally described as “precious.”  We often use words like “sad” or “tragic,” but not a word like “precious.”  However, God’s perspective on death is different than ours.  God sees death as the defeated enemy.  Jesus Christ is the Risen One, the “first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20).  The Bible compares death to “sleep” and I think almost everyone I know regards sleep as “precious.”  The gospel has taken the fear out of death.  The sting has been removed.  The gospel has rendered death as nothing more than like a night’s sleep where we awaken afresh into the glorious presence of Jesus Christ.

This is precisely what happened on July 28th to Rev. Eddie Fox, who, at 83 years old, passed from this earthly existence into the presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  I had the privilege of knowing Eddie Fox during his twenty-five years as the Executive Director of World Methodist Evangelism.  He traveled endlessly around the world promoting evangelism.  One of the tools he talked a lot about was a special edition New Testament which would enable people to better share their faith with others.  It was called the Faith Sharing New Testament with Psalms.  I cherish the signed copy he gave to me.  Only heaven knows how many people have been reconciled to Christ through that one tool which Eddie helped to produce.  He was the Executive Director of World Methodist Evangelism for the first six years of my Presidency at Asbury before he retired and passed the torch to Kim Reisman.  In those days we would meet in my office to discuss evangelism and how Asbury and our global partnership program could effectively partner with World Methodist Evangelism.  However, some of my most memorable memories of Eddie Fox was actually chance meetings in various airports around the world!  He was always in some airport and we would run into each other at the Delta Sky Club.  I loved his big smile and his infectious enthusiasm for the gospel and for sharing his faith.

When I heard the news of Eddie’s passing, I grieved for the loss of his presence in our movement.  He was a constant reminder that we are, at root, an evangelistic movement.  Wesley famously said to his preachers, “have nothing to do but save souls.”  That is the legacy of Eddie Fox.  He was one of the most single-minded people you will have met.  Eddie was focused on “nothing but saving souls.”  We will miss him.  We grieve his loss.  The younger generation of pastors will miss his mentoring in evangelism.  But, most of all, we remember that his passing is “precious” because he has gone before us to unite with the “church triumphant” and he is hearing those wonderful words from our Lord Jesus Christ, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”


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