...the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few
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SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO REV WESLEY GRAHAM
On behalf of the Mission Board and Missionary Council of the Free Presbyterian Church we would like to tender our Christian sympathy to Mrs Carol Graham on the death of her husband, our dear brother and colleague Rev. Wesley Graham. After a short illness, following his diagnosis of a brain tumour earlier in this year, Wesley passed into God’s presence on Tuesday 19th May 2020 at his own home at Bangor.

We would like to assure Carol and her family, Sarah and her husband Alistair Brown, Emma, Rhonda and her husband Rev. Maurice McCaughey, Timothy, and his wife Annamarie, of our prayerful support. We remember in our prayers also all of Wesley’s much beloved grandchildren, of whom he was so proud and thankful.

Wesley, we know was such a family man. His home and the well being of his wife Carol, and their children, and grandchildren meant everything to him. His greatest blessings in life were found in those closest and dearest to him.

To Wesley’s wider family circle, we want also to extend our sincere sorrow and pray that the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, would draw near in this their hour of grief and mourning.

As a Mission Board we want to record our thankfulness to God for all that Wesley was enabled by His grace to see accomplished in the land of Nepal. We stand back in amazement and say that it is the Lord’s doing and marvellous in our eyes.

After some seven years of faithful service in the Free Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Wesley started his fulltime work under the Mission Board in 2010. In many ways he displayed that pioneer spirit, which is essential in missionary work, throughout his life. He was a founder member of the congregation in Bangor, a man used to doing street evangelism, door to door work, and evangelistic meetings even before entering into his studies in the Whitefield College. He was especially a man of prayer. In his public intercessions he had power and unction from the Lord. Faithful to the end Wesley attended and preached at the Minister’s Week of Prayer in January of this year.

His first visit to Nepal was with Mr George McConnell in November 2006. There he was burdened for the vast spiritual needs of that land and God put a burden in his heart for the Nepalese people. Wesley helped to co-ordinate various conferences for the Church leaders of the Nepal Mission to the Unreached in the subsequent years. The first conference was held in 2006 with only 45 attending. Those numbers have grown to 300 people in 2019 with the limitation of space preventing more from attending.

The Precious Children’s Home began in 2003, when Paul and Mandira Thapa adopted five children who had lost either one or both parents. Paul was not aiming solely to do social work, as with an ordinary orphanage, but his desire was to see the children saved and trained to take the gospel to their own people. When the men visited in 2006, there were 11 children living with the Thapa family and they saw the need for larger premises. As a result, when they came home, funds were raised to build a new home for the children. That home was also soon too small for the numbers and a second larger home was built in subsequent years. Wesley had the joy of officially opening the new home in 2018, which now accommodates 30 children. Over the years he was a true Father figure to those children in the home.

One of the purposes of his first visit in 2006 was to prepare for LTBS sponsored radio
broadcasts in the Nepalese language which up to then had been broadcast in English. This was the beginning of a vast expansion of the radio work, which under God has been so blessed to the salvation of many souls and the commencement of local churches.

As the work grew and more churches were formed, Wesley quickly saw the need for a Bible College in which to train men for the ministry of the Gospel. This was built in 2009 and opened in 2010. In Wesley’s first prayer letter, sent home in April 2010, we get a sense of the work in which he was involved:-

“Arriving in April, we immediately launched into the work of teaching the pastors in the Nepal Mission College. The college building, although not completely finished, was well suited for the classes. Teaching sessions ran from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Thursday, and finishing at 12 noon on Fridays. On Friday afternoons the men were involved in outreach work in the local area.

During this first period of training fourteen men attended the course for six weeks. The teaching has been intensive, with fourteen classes each week covering a range of subjects – Biblical Doctrine, Hermeneutics, Homiletics, Church History, Missionary Principles, Bible Survey, Worship, and an introduction to the Greek language. The Lord certainly sustained Paul and I as we lectured, and we enjoyed the initial experience. We trust that this will help in the strengthening of these men in their future ministry. A graduation service was held at the close of the term and certificates were presented to the students. The next day they set off for home, some of them having a bus journey of 16 hours to reach their villages to the east or west of Nepal.”

Wesley was meticulous in his planning for the College Curriculum and Classes. He was in his element, though when God raised up other men to teach the subjects, he was happy to hand over to them. He never wanted to be in the spotlight but was content just being in the work, and seeing others come forward who could take that work onwards.

As the work developed and more men were trained, Wesley prepared the way for the formation and constitution of the first Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Nepal. Those who went out to visit Nepal in Nov 2013 for the ordination of twenty-two men for the Christian Ministry, who had been trained in the Bible College, will never forget the occasion. It was a high day in the history of the church and in all of our experiences, and one which will forever remain with us.

In 2015 Nepal was hit by a huge earthquake. Wesley and Carol had to sleep outside for many nights in case of aftershocks or another earthquake. Unable to get back home Wesley and Carol stayed with the local Believers in their tents, who so lovingly cared and provided for them. When they got home an Emergency Appeal had already been launched which helped the church members who had been made homeless to rebuild, and for church buildings, which had been destroyed, to be replaced.

Tribute must be paid by the Mission Board to Rev Paul Thapa and the Believers in the Nepal Free Presbyterian Church. Their love and help to Wesley and Carol made the whole venture possible. The personal relationship between Wesley and Paul was a Jonathan and David friendship. Their mutual respect of each other, and shared ministerial vision, is an object lesson for future missionaries.

Rev Thapa in his own very personal tribute said of Wesley: “We found that Rev Graham lived his life as he taught and preached. "Preaching and living go together", he used to say. He lived a life of example, and he fought a very good fight of the faith. Now God has taken him to be with Him forevermore.”

We would ask you to remember the Presbytery in Nepal in prayer and the Church as a whole, as they too have lost a dear friend and spiritual father.

Though Wesley stepped down from his full-time role in Nepal in Dec 2016, he continued his work in an advisory role. He was in constant contact with the work in Nepal, mentoring the further development of the Presbytery, liaising with the Mission Board, and still going back out to visit for conferences, college lectures, and church openings. He was the Deputation Secretary for the Precious Children’s Home and had a full round of deputation meetings booked for this year.

I believe that Wesley Graham packed a normal working man’s life into his last decade. In one short tribute it would be impossible to cover all the numerous and varied aspects of his ministry. I like others had opportunities to visit him and Carol in Nepal over the years and saw his Christ-like love and compassion at work. Carol was always by his side and could not have been a better support and encouragement to her husband. We pay tribute to her sacrificial spirit in all that she willingly gave up to serve with Wesley in Nepal. At home and abroad they were wonderful ambassadors for the missionary cause of Christ.

Carol has lost a beloved husband, their children a loving father, and their grandchildren a devoted Grandfather. We, who knew and loved him in the Lord, have lost a faithful friend and confidant. The Church in Nepal has lost a founding spiritual father, yet our lives and those of countless others to whom he ministered the love of God, are all the richer for having known brother Wesley Graham.

As Believers we mark his passing and promotion to Glory, but we are not saying farewell to him, we are only saying goodnight, we shall see and meet him once again on that eternal morning, when the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.

Wesley's labours here are finished but his works do follow him. We say with old Job:
“The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Job 1 v 2

Rev Ian Harris
MISSION NEWS - MAY 2020
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