On April 26, 2020, Jack Langham–a friend, mentor and co-laborer in the gospel–passed away. Jack was an evangelist. Maybe more so than anyone I’ve met.
On June 3, 2020, I had the honor of speaking for 5 minutes at his funeral. Here is an edited version of that talk.
Jack’s 4 Min. Eulogy
My name is Brian Holda.
Jack was a friend, a mentor in many ways, and most of all a dear brother in Christ to me, and I’m honored to speak at his memorial.
I’d known Jack for about 20 years, especially starting when I went to Hope College, and he and Sue routinely travelled 2 and a half hours each way to visit and minister Christ to us students.
He had so many traits I admired, but the thing that sticks out most was his straightforward truth-telling. He didn’t beat around the bush…I have a feeling most of you know what I mean. But it was really what us college kids needed most.
This continued after college, when I was engaged, and Jack took me on a walk to talk about the birds and the bees. Anyone else relate? Maybe it was just me. Anyway…he assumed I needed help and he was just the guy to give it. It was awkward at first, but I was touched by his love and frankness to help me out. And here I am with our fifth child on the way, so can’t argue with the results.
But much more, Jack’s straightforward truth-telling was the most moving to me when Jack shared about Jesus with anyone who would listen…I think many of you know what I mean. He explained to us how Jesus met him after telling God, “this life sucks,” (even though everything seemed pretty decent on the outside). And he had such a love and urgency that others would turn to follow Jesus and be saved from their sins as well.
In fact, one day he told me I needed to learn how to share this Jesus with others at my college the way he did, and so he was going to take me around Hope College to mentor me on a beautiful Saturday morning.
We went and had great conversations about Jesus, but I’ll never forget an encounter we had in the snack lounge. We sat down with an older man, and Jack made small talk at first. Then he asked him a question about Jesus. The man got so upset that he irately told Jack to beat it, in so many words. I was a bit embarrassed for myself and Jack, but Jack didn’t seem to flinch. And we soon were talking to the next person about the hope he had in Jesus.
That encounter was tense, uncomfortable, and what I feared the most. Maybe some of you here today even had similar exchanges with Jack yourself. But I keep asking myself, “Why?”
“Why would Jack take time to seek out others only to be scolded on an otherwise perfectly sunny Saturday?”
“Why would someone endure so many people giving him uncomfortable and unwelcome faces during his time on earth?”
Well…right now, Jack gets the privilege of looking into the only face that matters: Jesus. And surely seeing Jesus smile at you face-to-face is worth seeing a million frowns in this lifetime. I think Jack did it to make Jesus smile. He also, as I recall, felt like he wanted to make up for 40 years he sadly lived without Jesus. And finally, I know Jack shared Jesus (knowing some will reject) because he hoped and longed to help others find the same joy of being forgiven that he did. If you’re one of those people who had those uncomfortable conversations with Jack, he risked it because he loves you and thought you were worth the risk. And the only thing that could add to the joy Jack has right now with Jesus is if we, too, can join them both when we pass as well.
As the Bible says: “How precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints”.