Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Sunday night with Rob

Following on from yesterday's blog about this past weekend, I spent last Sunday evening at St George's hospital. I went to visit my long-time friend, Rob Frost. I, like many others, knew he was seriously ill - and getting worse. After sharing in the 'Frost on Sunday' show on Premier Radio some weeks ago, we went for an 'all day breakfast' and talked till lunchtime. It was clear he was deteriorating, and he knew it. He was full of faith, but utterly realistic about what doctors were saying to him.

Last Friday, on my way to Cumbria I learned that Rob had been taken into hospital and was seriously ill. So, when I arrived in London last Saturday night I ascertained how things were and tried to make arrangements to see him on Sunday, after all the arranged engagements were over. Jacqui Frost, bless her, invited me to visit on Sunday, but warned that Rob was dangerously ill.

So it was that I arrived at the hospital shortly before 9.00pm, courtesy of excellent taxi service supplied by Geoff Cornell of the West London Mission (thanks Geoff). While I was there the consultant made it clear that everything that could be done had been done, but to no avail, and recommended that Rob be released from various apparatus and made comfortable. Jacqui agreed.

Together with Jacqui and Marian and John Izzard I was able to 'visit' Rob and said goodbye. I had taken a little oil and was able to sign him with the cross. The following, traditional, lovely declaration came to my mind and I pronounced it over Rob:

Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father, who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who suffered and died for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon you.
Go forth, faithful Christian!
May you live in peace this day, may your home be with God in Zion,
Well done thou good and faithful servant.

I took my leave about 10.00pm, leaving Rob with his wonderful faithful family. He died shortly before midnight.

I count it a real privilege to have been present at such a time, to offer prayer. It was a piece of providence for which I am deeply grateful to God.

Many tributes will rightly be paid to Rob Frost. He was an exceptional man. I happen to think that the public face of Christian witness and broadcasting has suffered a severe blow with his death. I consider that his initiatives have contributed to the enlivening of Methodism more than any other single factor in recent years. My own ministry - like many others - has been hugely enriched by his events like Easter People over the years.

But I will miss his encouraging friendship the most. He was utterly supportive of me and my ministry, completely loyal and profoundly pastoral. In his frenetic life he sustained true care with so many - including me. I thank God for Rob, and for being able to 'visit' on Sunday night, one last time - this side of heaven at least!


Micky said...

Thanks for sharing this Martyn. It is good to know.

Sally said...

Thank you Martyn for writing this, I am so glad you were able to visit one last time this side of heaven. Rob will be sadly missed.