A TRIBUTE TO A BROTHER

My dear brother, Frank Simon, Archbishop of the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, aged 60, passed on into the presence of his Saviour around 10:00 a.m. on September 30, 2018. It is my understanding that he was with others travelling to another part of the Island to attend a memorial service when something tragically happened and the passing of our dear brother Frank. In June this year, I paid tribute to His Beatitude Patriarch Edmund John, August a tribute to Bishop Enoch and now this month to a beloved friend, brother and dear Minister of the Lord His Grace the Honourable Sir Frank Simon.

My dear brothers and sisters, the bittersweet time we have long anticipated has come: God has taken our dear, precious brother home. He has confirmed his own Word in Hosea 13:14, ‘O death, I will be thy plagues.’ And in 1 Corinthians 15:55a: ‘O death, where is thy sting?’

Death has lingered long for our dear brother while some that he served sought to destroy him from every angle, but now his soul is in the land where death is no more. I am certain that those who plotted to destroy him while he was serving them will be the first to sing praise because they can now fill the void he left behind. Every time a believer faces a new day and death with faith and confidence in Christ, death is plagued, unstung, and defeated. Someone said we walk with death under our feet daily and so it is with every faithful believer. I do not want to write a tribute and be as though I am preaching. Just to share my thoughts and time we have known each other. That is now true for our brother. His soul is eternally delivered, and soon his body will be strong and forever reunited with his soul so that with his whole being he will praise God forever.

My brother Frank died by faith on his Master’s mission, with dignity, in Christ. We have lost a praying brother, but we have not lost his prayers. Matthew Henry said of parents that they could far better leave behind for their children a treasury of prayers than a treasury of gold and silver. We have been blessed in this way as (spiritual) children, friends and ministers more than almost anyone else we know on this earth. What a treasure is laid up in store for us of the prayers of our dear brother and Spiritual father! And what responsibility is now ours! A legacy he left us to continue not to fight among ourselves but in love to serve one another.

Dear family in Christ, we will all miss our dear brother Frank terribly. We’ll miss his sweet smile, his kindness, his godliness. We’ll miss caring for him. I often counsel others telling them, “You will never be able to repay all that your brother Frank has done for you.’ By God’s grace, we count it an honour as an Organizational family that we could repay a little of that debt. But now, how shall we begrudge him a place at our Father’s side singing praise to the Triune God without any infirmity? My brother Frank is now in the church triumphant – and no longer in the background!

Here on earth, our dear Archbishop Frank loved the church as the local manifestation of the body of Christ. He gave his life for it – Frank openly as an elder for some forty years;  with his prayers and tears and care, supporting the organization he loved. Nothing was too much for him to give to the local church body of the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. By his talk and his walk, he taught us to love the church as well.

But now his giving to the church is done. And he serves the triumphant church forever – that church that knows no man-made walls, no denominations, no separations, no infirmities – that church where everyone loves each other perfectly in Christ Jesus! Truly, we cannot wish them back. You see brethren, ‘When our loved ones die, they change their place, but not their company.’

A few years ago after the Passing of Archbishop Pompey and Frank was elected to take the reigns of the organization, everyone thought that Frank was too young and I recalled speaking to a young man, I said ‘Remember, dear, we cannot wish him (Archbishop Pompey) back.’  He told me that simple comment gave him lots of strength to move on. My dear brothers and sisters, and dear family in Christ, what a legacy has been left to us! I would like to describe that legacy through our dear Brother Frank’s life in five words, each of which bears the stamp of God’s grace.

1. Prayerful – that would have to be the first descriptive word. In terms of consistently coming to the throne of grace, pleading for God’s mercy, Archbishop Frank was a prayer warrior I have ever known. I remember when he turned 50 one year behind me, I wrote him a note and thanked him for praying for me. He told me that he never stop praying for me and I know he meant every word spoken and written.

Often my brother Frank would pray at great length. He was never to busy to talk to the Lord and though he was working to support himself and family, the church and members were his number one priority. Bishop, as he was so fondly called, was always open to assist anyone that would ask of his help.

The Frank Simon I know was a very dedicated servant of God. You may not know how much he was praying for you. We would link up on the phone and pray together for the church and many times never utter a word for himself. You, my brothers and sisters, were his cross he carried daily and you would never know till now that I reveal it to you.

I believe the burden was very heavy and the Lord acted for His honour and glory. Many people that he laid his hands on in Ordination had no kind words to say about him. They spoke ill about him from shore to shore, country to country yet they hold credentials with his signature. He knew about some of the episodes because he would ask me to pray for him and those that persecuted him without cause. Today I say, Archbishop Frank, you are in a better place where there is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

I asked Frank one day what was the secret that kept him going without slowing down? He said to me “It was the grace of God and the prayers from brethren like you”. I have lost a brother, a friend, a Bishop brother and a brother from “The Star of Eden”.

With Frank gone to be with the Lord, I am left alone with Thee. Somebody pray for me because I need all the strength that is available. Oh, how shall we ever realize the magnitude of the covenant of God’s mercies bequeathed to us through a praying brother!

Let us thank God that by his grace, he gave us a praying brother.

2. Lover of Scripture. Archbishop Simon loved to read the Bible. That became all the more apparent in his years when he was elevated to the Office of Archbishop. We had many discussion and he had to spend extra time in prayer and studying the word of God for the edifying of the church. He told me that as ministers we have to be many steps ahead of the congregation. He was encouraging me to return home to work alongside him so we can make a greater impact in St. Vincent and the Grenadines I agreed to work with him on my return, but God saw otherwise. Since I met the man some 30 years ago he always encouraged me to stay in the word and to live a holy life pleasing to the Lord.

A few months ago he told me that he wanted to visit New York and visit me so we can visit churches and fellowship together laying the foundation for the future. I was excited to meet him before my return but he passed on to be with his Saviour and Lord.

My brother Frank’s love for the Word was also evident in his conscientious church attendance. He was raised with the understanding that hearing God’s Word in the house of God was life’s top priority. When he was not at the church in Calder, he was in Belair, Sion Hill, Fountain only to hear the word of God and to gain the knowledge knowing who God is and the ability to minister to souls.

Let us thank God that by his grace, he gave us a mother who loved the Word.

3. Kindness. My brother was incredibly kind. ‘The law of kindness’ was in his heart, and therefore on his tongue and in all his facial expressions. When anyone was present, he would not forget about his children. They were his priority and that includes his spiritual children.

Perhaps I’m being forgetful, but I do not ever remember my brother criticizing anyone for anything. He said once to me, ‘You can talk about people as much as you want, as long as what you say is good.’ Nor do I ever recall him speaking to me at any point in my life with any frustration, irritation, or anger in his voice. I assure you, that we were good friends, but because the grace of God sanctified his character, in his tongue was ‘the law of kindness’ (Proverbs 31:26). Perhaps that grace also sanctified his memory, so that he knew what to remember and what to forget!

I think my brother thought it was a double sin to criticize a minister because he is a servant of the Most High God. He always thought it was a sin to speak ill about anyone. However, he would pray and cry out to God when the table was turned on him. You would have never known that and deep in his heart he would say, “Father do not hold it to their charge”. How do I know, he told me.

Let us thank God that by his grace, he gave us a mother in whose tongue was ‘the law of kindness.’

4. Contentment.  My brother Frank always seemed cheerful and content – in fact, so content that at times it frustrated me. If something bad happened to me, and I would ask him for advice, he would often respond by saying, ‘It could be worse.’ One day this was too much for me: ‘But my brother Frank,’ I said with great irritation, ‘you can say that about everything.’ ‘That’s right,’ he calmly replied, without a hint of irritation, ‘it always could be worse because God never gives us things as bad as we deserve.’ ‘But brother Frank…’ I protested. Calmly he interrupted me, quoting Paul: ‘I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.’ That text stopped the child-like attitude in me.

My brother Frank’s contentment was also evident in his thankfulness. He was one of the most thankful people I have ever known. He would thank you for everything you did for him, even the smallest thing. Thanksgiving filled his heart and spilt over into his life with ease. He could thank as easily as he could say, ‘I’m sorry’ – even when he had nothing to be sorry about!

Let us thank God that by his grace, he gave us a content brother.

5. Purity – that is, in terms of devoutness and godliness. My brother Frank, by Christ’s grace, developed not only holy habits but even natural habits that revealed a simple, almost naive, purity. He was disciplined not only in his Bible-reading but also in his eating habits (to a fault!), disciplined in his daily walks, disciplined in his daily routines of exercise. Everything about his life seemed so organized, so simple, so pure, so clean, so sweet, that it seemed like the aroma of Christ exuded from him.

Actually, there may be no better way to describe my brother Frank than to cite the list in Galatians 5:22-23 of the fruit of the Spirit: ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.’ Each of these fruits was abundant in her life.

Let us thank God that by his grace, he gave us a brother whose life displayed the fruit of the Spirit.

The legacy, the heritage, the mantle is now passed on to us, and someone will take the mantle of the office of Archbishop. We now become the older generation. Time waits for no one; no mere human being is the master of time. Sooner than we know, someone will be conducting our funerals. May we, by God’s grace, be found worthy of such a legacy, and faithful in receiving such a mantle. My brother left his mark on our lives, all of us, and the best monument we can raise to his memory is to follow him as he followed Christ and the established church and extend his influence to many other lives, and to the generations to come.

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