Thanksgiving service for David Fountain
|Andrew Fountain's memorial address
||July 16, 2004
First of all I want to welcome everyone here on behalf of the family and really thank all of you who have come and those of you who have sent cards, letters, greetings and messages. It meant so much to us, particularly my mother, to feel the love thats been shown to us.
1. Brief account of his life
David Fountain's father was the founder of Tannoy, which was famous for loudspeakers and hi-fi, but in his home, although there was no shortage of material things, life wasnt easy. His father was mean and vicious, particularly when drunk. His brother and sister are with us here and they could testify of that. As a child my father was once looking at his cat and envied her because she didnt have the stresses that he had.
As he grew up he was in contact with Christians. He became involved in a youth group and became very, very active. In fact, he would regularly bring more people to the youth group than anyone else. He was confident that he was a Christian. Later on he was doing National Service and had mumps. He was in solitary confinement for two weeks. He thought, This would be a good time to spend reading the Bible and praying. But he discovered that he had no interest whatsoever in reading the Bible and praying, or really in God. He was just caught up in doing the religion thing. This was a total shock to him and so he spent that time just crying to God and seeking him. As a result he came to know Jesus personally and was saved.
During his two-year national service he met my mother and then went to Oxford University. The pressure of home and college was so great that he had a nervous breakdown at this point. His father's treatment of him became so antagonistic that he threw him out of home. Because of this, my parents married while he was still at university, and I was actually born while he was taking his final exams. Literally! He was in the exam room at the moment I was born.
When they left Oxford, all their worldly goods were put into one car, and my mother, the pram and little me travelled by train to her parents home on a farm.
My father wanted to go to Bible college to be trained but discovered at the last minute that there were some theological problems at the college. So instead, he spent a year with some other men just studying the Scriptures and preparing himself under the guidance of a pastor. That training was a very good foundation. About that time he heard of Spring Road church and their need of a pastor. Mr. and Mrs. Heather, who recently went to be with the Lord, gave them a house free of rent. A wonderful blessing came at that time. His father began to be very kind to him and gave him a car and a stipend. In that way God provided for our financial needs. The family moved to 275 Spring Road, and then after nine years moved to 273, which was the family home for twenty-eight years.
After the shock of the news of my fathers death wore off I began to think about his life. I was overawed at what he accomplished through Gods grace. He accomplished so much! I will talk in a moment about his spiritual legacy, but there were elements in his character that God used.
Seized opportunities. Most of the books that he wrote were in response to an opportunity, like Isaac Watts or Lord Radstock or Mayflower Pilgrims, to get the message out at that particular point. He seized the opportunity to be on TV and radio at different times.
Built relationships. One particular focus he had in the ministry was on relationships, on building a family here. He was so concerned to draw people in through personal contact. For example, I remember when we were young we would play football at Mayfield Park. This would draw young lads to come and watch what was happening and hed invite them to join us. Then hed invite them to Sunday School. Because theyd seen him at a natural level they werent afraid of coming to Sunday School. He did a lot of work that way. He had social contacts at the squash club and lots of other places, and he was very concerned to use every opportunity.
An innovator. He didnt want to change the message at all, but he felt that we must use every method that we can. An example would be Dial-A-Messagehe set up a service when no one else was doing anything like that. When he published his John Wycliffe book, he wanted a really good colour cover and illustrations all the way through, because he recognized that todays culture is very visual. A huge change for him was to switch to the New King James version. There was a lot of heart-searching, but he did it because he believed that this was vitally important to communicate effectively with todays culture.
His illness and last moments
Twelve years ago he became ill and had to give up his work as pastor of Spring Road because he had M.E. (chronic fatigue). Although his main home is in Rosoman Road, he spent most of his time living in a mobile home near Cadnam in the New Forest. It was a place to relax and enjoy Gods creation, and he just loved it there, seeing the animals playing all around him.
Finally I want to praise God for the circumstances of his death, because truly Gods grace was there. Harry Waite was the last person to have a conversation with him just before he went upstairs to rest on a bed. Ilona, who was like a daughter to him, came into the room. He gave her a wonderful smile and then his heart just stopped beating and he went to glory. We were so full of praise that he was spared any long agony or extended period of dying, and he just went full of joy to the Lord that he loved all of his life.
2. His impact on his family as a father
Here are a few of his characteristics as a father.
Enjoyed having fun. I have fond memories of going to the beach, and one of the things we liked to do was to divert streams. So rather than relying on little plastic spades, we bought big heavy-duty garden spades with us, really well-equipped. We had such fun on the beach.
He had a fascination with snow. Small amount of snow and hed be up at Mayfield park with a toboggan, seeing if he could ride down the slope. He loved snow.
I remember once when I was at primary school I had a birthday party, and my dad took all of my friends for a ride in the car. There were no speed limits in those days, and we went 70 miles an hour along Portsmouth Road. I remember one of my friends saying afterwards that it was the fastest hed been in his life!
He loved practical jokes. Once he took a paper that an ice cream had been wrapped in, all covered in bits of ice cream, and went up to David Small who was a deacon, and said Smell this, David! David bent down and he pushed it up into his face. David just couldnt believe that this had happened, and could only stammer out, You rotter; you rotter!
He used to joke with my energetic mum and say, Im your brakes and your steering wheel. (So were just trusting now that God will be her brakes and her steering wheel and keep her from driving off the road!)
Security. I remember him as a father who gave a feeling of security. I remember driving off on holiday with us children in the back of the car. Wed feel snug and safe and protected and he would look after us and would get us to our destination. I just felt a lot of security with him as a father.
Love for my mother. One of the big things that made a massive impact on me was his love for my mother. The love that he had for her was such a strong love and made such an impact on me that it has been a model for me in my own marriage. His devotion for her was amazing and was demonstrated constantly.
Generosity. Another thing that struck us was the spirit of generosity, and Ill talk about that more in a minute.
Firm as a father, but totally consistent. You always knew exactly where you stood with him. Although he was firm in discipline, once you were forgiven, you were forgiven. There was nothing hanging over you! I really appreciated that in the home.
3. His spiritual impact on his family
A. The reality of his relationship with God
Dependence. In terms of his relationship with God, his dependence on God showed all the time. He prayed about everything. Youd be discussing some problem with him, and hed say, Lets just pray about that. Wed take a few moments just to pray. He had this living relationship that was dependent on God.
Sensitivity to God speaking to him and guiding him. This was not in an audible voice, but just as real. He wouldnt do anything unless he knew God was leading him and guiding him. As an example, he knew my mother for a year before he proposed to her. He was praying about whether she was the right one, and she didnt know that he even liked her until he was sure from God that this was the right person. Then he moved forward in the relationship. He was determined that his relationship with God would be a two-way thing. He would hear from God and wouldnt move until he knew God was leading him.
Devotion to God. Ultimately, everything else was secondary in his life to his love for the Lord. The Lord came first.
Knew God as a good God, a loving heavenly Father. He knew God as one who is kind and gentle and loving, and he trusted himself to this God. One of his favourite texts was As for God, his way is perfect. He had that text up, because he trusted him. This stood him in good stead during his long periods of forced inactivity and frustration, when his trust was put to the test. Yet right to the end, his belief in Gods love and Gods care was steadfast.
Longed to be with Christ. Heaven was his goal and heaven what he spoke about often. He was excited that Jesus could return at any moment, and near the end of his life was eagerly anticipating going to glory to see his dear Saviour.
This reality of his relationship with God made a big impact on me as a teenager and was very instrumental in my own salvation, because teenagers begin to ask questions and think Is what my parents believe really true. I knew that God was real. Nobody could ever convince me that God wasnt real, because I knew in my parents lives that they had a relationship with him. I could not possibly be convinced of anything else. When I was talking to my sister earlier, she said the same about her own conversion.
B. His love for others
Generosity. He was such an example to us, the way he would give to others. He was just such a giving person.
Open home. He would often invite people to come and stay and live with us. I think of the Simonyi's, Ann Cannel, many others who came and lived with us and stayed in our home. That was such an example to me, and its something that we try and follow in our own lives, because we saw the example that he gave.
Care and concern to help anybody. There are many people here who can bear testimony, and many scores of letters and cards that my mothers received bear testimony to the care and concern that he had to help people. People have written and said, He helped me so much, he did so much for me. This was his charactershowing love for others.
Community. The church was a family, it was a community. We felt part of this as a family. We had after-meetings in our home, we had the church house parties, we had people invited round for meals all the time. Sunday lunch, Sunday tea, there were always people around with us. This sense of community was something wonderful.
Fearlessness. When he believed something was right, he operated totally by principle. Even if it was great cost to him personally, he was somebody who was controlled by principles.
You might be thinking, He was a great man, I could never have a relationship with God like that. I could never love people like he did. But youd be wrong. It was nothing to do with his greatness. All he had was a simple, child-like faith in Jesus. Thats all he had. All the good things about him that weve been talking about, were gifts that Jesus gave him. If he was here right now, hed say, Its not me, its him! Its not me. Theres nothing good in me. Hed point you to Jesus and say, Isnt he wonderful!
His last book project, which was never written, was about how to become a Christian. Hes talked to me much about it, and I can just tell you in a nutshell what he wanted to say. He wanted to say that yes, its about our sins being forgiven. Yes, its about repentance and faith and so on. But at the core of it, the main thing is that its about a relationship with the most wonderful person there is. You need to get past just wanting to get out of going to hell and wanting all the benefits from Christ. You want him! He would say becoming a Christian is coming to know a person, and the advice he would give to someone is: keep seeking him until you find him! Keep seeking him until you find him! Because to know him is everlasting life.