Charles Thain, 2x2 Overseer of Wisconsin
From what I hear, Charles Thain was/is the 2x2 overseer in Wisconsin.
Charles Thain Funeral Notes
Funeral Service for Charles Thain at the Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin convention grounds September 15, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
We can begin our service for our brother, Charles Thain, this afternoon with a hymn, 412, “When Life is Ended and I must travel through death's dark chambers, I need not fear,” and then after we sing this hymn Robert is going to lead us in prayer.
(Congregational singing, then Robert Eberhardt prayed.)Perry Pearson:
In the 12th chapter of Luke's Gospel, Jesus had spoken to the company that was with Him, and then seemingly, He turned unto His disciples and spoke of His second coming and of those that would watch for Him in the second watch, and even the third watch, and in verse 41 of Luke 12, Peter asked that question, “Lord, do you speak this parable unto us or even to all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.” And then the opposite picture of that is verse 45, “But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidservants and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him.” It has been a nice experience to prepare a little word for this service. I don't think I've ever tried to prepare myself for a service where I've had more memories come to my mind. It has been a flood of experiences Mr. Charles and I had together, scriptures he has opened to us, and expressions of advice. I'm glad it was my portion to be quiet like that and recall some of those. One thing I remember him often speaking in a setting like this, in a funeral, is that when the old die, it leaves room for the younger ones to grow. And I think we're conscious and feel that today. Mr. Charles had a great interest in this work; he had a great interest in this state; he had a great interest in the church; he had a great interest in the work of this Gospel and the spreading of the Word in this state, in other states, and in other countries. And we want to grow up in his absence. I remember a few years ago, we were going off the prep season, and he told us brothers, “I have learned it is better to have good relationships with your fellow-workers than for everything to go smoothly.” I don't think I've ever come to a preps season or a convention season but what I've recalled that, “It is far better to have good relationships than for everything to go smoothly.” And I remember one time, too, we were going off for another funeral and this faithful soul had passed on, but he just encouraged us, “Go and be a comfort to the family.” He had a great interest that people could be comforted. He understood their loss; he entered into their losses, their sorrows, and he knew the Gospel and the Word of God can comfort us. “Go comfort the family.” I feel I'm a part of a generation of workers that have come up under the influence of Mr. Charles. I don't think any of us would say we are in this ministry because of him, but we know he prayed for this. And as we've heard in this convention, the Lord influenced how the tree would fall. The Lord heard his prayer and dealt with us individually about this work. You know, I remember, I don't know just talking about this, but I was very young when I first had thoughts of this work; I was 17, and on the last day of our Menomonie convention, I just remember, Sunday afternoon before I left, I shook his hand goodbye, and I said, “Charles, I'm going to write you a letter this year.” I'll never forget his smile, and he said, “Well, don't forget!” And I didn't! And I remember his gracious, kind way - for a little high school lad to be thinking about this work; he never despised it. He stood with me. I remember when I started in this work (I was very young; I turned 19 just before I went to Georgia to work in this work) he said, “We know you are very young, but we feel you'll mature more this next year in this work than working with your hands.” And, there's been many times I have felt very young in this work, but I just appreciate the kindness of the Father to help us mature. This verse came to my mind; it seemed to be a bit of a contradiction, as it were, that Jesus would speak of one being a ruler over fellow-servants. He had already spoken to His servants, His ministers, against wanting to be the greatest among each other, but in this capacity, He mentioned of one that would be as a ruler and as a steward, and he would be counted as a faithful man, a faithful individual, and maybe what would make him a ruler really was that he would give meat in due season. We have profited by that in Mr. Charles, that he fed us. I think there might have been some things, because of our own behavior, it would have been far easier to have left unsaid. It wasn't easy for him to speak some things that he had to speak to us, but he spoke them to our profit, and they were our meat in that due season. They were appropriate. To our profit they were said, and to our profit they were received. Jesus never had in mind that a man would rise up and rule over His congregation or over His ministry, but in ruling, as it were, they would feed. And I've liked that that is quoted out of the book of Micah, when Jesus was born, those wise men coming, in that second chapter of Matthew and they, those in Jerusalem, looking back to the scriptures and finding that in Micah, that in Bethlehem, though you are least among the tribes, out of you would come forth a governor “that shall feed my people.” The marginal reading, I think, says, “That shall rule my people.” There's something about this of ruling and feeding that is very close in the Kingdom of Heaven. And those that may seem to have more authority and those that may rule are people, men and women, that are faithful to feed themselves so that they can feed others. And I think of this steward, as it were, there would be needs arising day after day, and he would keep his eye upon the need of the household, but he would minister another man's meat. And he would see the needs of his fellow-servants, and he would know what they need, but he would minister another man's meat. It wasn't his, but he would minister it. He would continue to pour that out, and his fellow-servants would have need. He didn't despise them; they needed meat. And he loved them, and he fed them. And the household wouldn't always be in perfect condition, but he would go and he would faithfully feed them until his Lord would return. And so I liked this picture, like this of the steward feeding and would remember Jesus that He came as a Shepherd and He ruled, and because He ruled, He could feed His people. Jesus ruled Himself; there was nothing unruly left in His nature, but it was all bread. It was all under control. And His victory today, we're still entering into His victory because He ruled and brought His nature into subjection. He brought powers of darkness into subjection. There could be the peaceful feeding of sheep, and thus the strengthening of that little church that He would leave. And so the steward that would be left until his lord would come, would remember that Jesus had victory first and that gave Him bread. And the steward would rule himself, and he would feed others. This has been something that's been special for me to (end of page 1)
remember, and we've appreciated and benefited, and we do pray we could have grace to grow. George Lee: 2 Timothy the 4th chapter, beginning with verse 1, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Verse 5 “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” The other day, the thought came about our brother: He indeed fulfilled this part about being an evangelist. Some of us have followed him in fields where he worked, in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky, and we’ve seen some of the fruits of his – what happened when he was there, when the Holy Spirit was working and leading… This past summer, we went to a little corner of Kentucky, a mountain area. We just marveled that they ever found the people, but really, it’s no mystery because we understand that it was the Holy Spirit that directed. Those souls had been praying, and they had been seeking, and the Gospel came, and they received it with joy. We’re grateful today to think God still is able in this day to raise up laborers for this harvest field. I know some of you mothers and fathers here have seen your children leave home, and maybe sometimes you wonder what they’re doing the next day or the next week. When I started into this ministry, one of the first things we did – we had a little bach tent, and every morning after we had our breakfast, we would read a chapter, and my co-worker would talk about it. We’ve practiced that with our younger co-workers also since then. When we read this the other day, I thought, “Well, I wonder about Charles, where he may have been when he read those words, 'do the work of an evangelist.'” He loved souls – you know that; he loved you people. He loved the Lord’s people wherever they were, and like we heard, he loved the servants, wherever they came from and wherever they were going, because it’s a wonderful family that we’re a part of. And we’re grateful for this. A nice little visit last Wednesday evening and he brought up some names of some people that we knew. And he reminded me that he had been in my parent’s home in his first year in this ministry...sixty-five years ago. I was just a wee little boy; I don’t remember meeting him, but I remember sometime later, he came to the conventions where we were, and I remembered his zeal and his efforts to feed the flock and to care for them. We were hearing in our first meeting about asking, seeking, and knocking...Jesus encouraging his disciples to ask your Father. He gave a little illustration that we appreciate so much. He said, if a little son, if a son came to his father and asked him for bread, would he give him a stone? Would he give him a scorpion? Would he give him something that’s not edible? No. “How much more will my heavenly Father give good things to them that ask him?” We know that our brother - like we’ve heard, it’s good when we can sit down and visit as co-workers, and we can ask our older brothers for advice, and sometimes, they tell us things that we didn’t ask because, they say, in the future maybe something may come up, and you may wonder about that, and you may approach it this way. But often we were told, “You pray.” One of the things that Mr. Charles had in his experience in Alabama and Mississippi… There was an older brother worker that prayed out loud every morning and every evening. No matter who was in the room, they were going to listen to his prayer. I experienced that by being a visitor there with my older companion one time. It did something to your heart to listen to this older brother pray. He was praying for the people; he was praying for the visits that day or whatever the need might have been at that time… Charles mentioned that Wednesday, the effect of that man’s prayers. I think you have felt the effect of his prayers here – in the conventions, in the missions, in your homes. He cared about the Lord’s people. He wanted them to be fed; he wanted to encourage them. Like Paul was writing, “One plants; another waters.” It’s wonderful to see what the Holy Spirit can do as it reaches out into unusual areas and finds souls that no one else could find; only God could find them, only the Holy Spirit. We rejoice today that we have the privilege of being here and having a little part and seeing the end. The hymn that we were singing, “When life is ended and I must travel…” Some of the words of that hymn just really stir our hearts because it’s not the end; it’s a continuation of something far better. We all look forward to the day when there’s no more sorrow, no more pain. Charles looked forward to the coming of Jesus, but he didn’t live to see that day. He’s going to be buried in the cemetery where Mary McGregor was buried, an older sister worker that wrote some of our hymns, and we appreciate some of the words, and it often touches our hearts when we sing the hymn and think about her. But almost every day, she would say, “Maybe the Lord is going to come back today; I think He’s going to come back in my lifetime.” And I remember the night, the middle of the night, when the phone rang and my co-worker went and answered the phone, and he came back to say, “Mary is gone.” He didn’t come back in her lifetime. We don’t know when He’s coming back, but like we were hearing, we want to be faithful in praying and watching.Robert Eberhardt:
Well for the next part of the memorial service, we're going to have the workers to come up front and sing one of the hymns from our previous edition of the hymn book, which was number 328 “O Blessed Lord, the night, the night is falling...” Wednesday evening during the time George & I were visiting with Charles, there were lots of things that he was thinking about; it was amazing; he was very, very lively, very animated, very clear, lots of precious things coming forth from his mouth, and one of the things that was remembered was that he quoted from this hymn. It's been a long time since some of us sang it. But the next morning, when we anticipated this service, it just seemed the right thing to do to sing this as laborers together, and so the workers will come and sing, “O Blessed Lord.” Luther Raine: As we have heard already in this convention, the only reason that we are here in the sight of victory is because the victory has already been won, and God giveth us the victory through his Son. We have a little natural illustration of that in the Old Testament. When the giant Goliath went out to defy the armies of Israel, and a shepherd lad with a stone from the brook took care of him, and he received the king’s daughter as his bride. A little illustration of the devil rising up against everything that is godly and the Shepherd of Israel going out with the truth from the Word of life and taking care of him and receiving the king’s daughter as His Bride. And that’s the church; that’s us. But the message needed to go out. That was the question that was asked there in the book of Job: that (Job 33:23) “If there be a messenger, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness…tell him…I (end of page 2)
have found the ransom.” The question was not whether or not there was a ransom because God had the assurance that the same Spirit that was in Him, that loved the world so he gave his Son, that same Spirit was in the Son that loved the church, that loved the people, that loved humanity, and He knew He would go all the way. The question was not whether or not there was a ransom; the question was whether or not there was someone to take the story, someone to take the message. About the spring of 1960, during our special meeting round, I was thinking of those among us who then were older, the older men and women that were leaders among us, and they were getting old. And I was concerned about what was going to happen when that generation came to an end. I was praying about it...and the voice came to me almost audibly, “I’m still on the throne.” And that was the answer to my concern then. And that’s the answer to our concern. About 25 or 30 years later, I saw another generation laid away and go to rest. And now Charles is about the last of his generation that has served in the Kingdom. But still the answer is, “I’m still on the throne.” That’s still the answer for us today. I met Charles about 60 years ago this year when he was in the state of Kentucky in this work of the Gospel. I little dreamed that I would be here today on an occasion like this, but this is just the way it is in the Kingdom of God. Like we read that was said to David that day, “Our lives are bound up in the bundle of life with our Lord,” and therefore, we don’t get separated very easily. Even though it takes turns that we don’t expect, our lives are bound up in the bundle of life. When I came to this staff, I was so impressed and so satisfied with the unity of the staff, the spirit of the staff, the fellowship of the staff. I soon came to think that it was a great deal because of the way Charles handled his staff, and because of his trying to be fair and the same with every one, that he was trying to be what he could be. I think it was manifest in the staff, and I appreciated it. And I have still appreciated it. During these last months when he and I have been together, a few of you have expressed genuine concern about my ability to hold up under the stress. But, I want to assure you, there was no stress. It is true that our – our going – was limited, and the homes that we could visit in was limited, but there was no stress. And we are grateful to be here today. Robert Eberhardt: Well, we've anticipated this day, and we've thought about it a lot, but when it finally comes to it, we still feel very unprepared for it in a lot of ways. When I was thinking of this day, quite a long while ago in fact, I wondered about what it would be that I would have to share in this meeting. And I began to just think on a rather broad subject, and it's just simply the servant. There's many things that I've read, and it's hopeless to try to share very much of it today, but out of it all, I just trust that the Lord would lead by the Spirit and that something from Himself could be left on this theme. I think it's a very worthy theme to consider. Charles considered himself a servant. He never was a master; he always was a servant to the Lord and to the Lord's people, and in the service of the Lord's work, he was a servant. I wondered just how it comes to be that a man would invest 65 years of his life and be very satisfied in what, by many standards the world would have sought for themselves, they'd be very happy to get out of a place of a servant and be seeking to have the place of a master. Well, there's lots of things that can go into that answer. Among the places that I've read, I just appreciate two places in Isaiah that have a lot to do with the results of today. The first is in the 42nd chapter of Isaiah, and it's one of the places that Isaiah records these words, “Behold my servant.” In this case, the servant who we are to focus on is none other than the Son of God, Jesus Christ. I might just mention some of those verses: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.” Chapter 52 verse 13, another “Behold my servant” portion: “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many as were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: so shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” Well, among other things that these places have done for me, as it helps me remember that our Savior left Heaven's glory and came into this world amongst men, He could have chosen any station in life, but He chose and He made of Himself a servant. A servant is to do the master's bidding, and the master's bidding that was given for Jesus to do and lots of things just was a very tall order. We can say that. I've been glad for a number of things that have come to mind. The first in that 42nd chapter is that the Lord would not be discouraged, and He would not fail. And we're glad for this thought. In the last day or two, when I was thinking about this, we've also been reading in Timothy and Titus, and I'm thinking about Paul as a servant of God, and some of the things that he was moved to write by the Holy Spirit and to write to his fellow-servant, Timothy, and his fellow-servant, Titus. He was mentioning in these epistles that there had been some that had started and that they had not finished. And I think that it did a lot for Paul to consider that in his own ministry. He had been called of God; the Lord had charged him to do this mission, to bear his name before kings and governors and what was on his mind his whole life long was that he would be faithful unto the end. And I know Charles felt that way. He's been a man who's been amongst us. Before my life, he was in Alabama, and he has remembered me my whole life. He's seen lots of things; he's seen some start and some continue and finish well, and he's seen some turn aside, but he kept his zeal alive unto the Lord, and I believe we all know the secret because he didn't dwell on the fact that others didn't go on, but he remembered the Savior who finished all of the work and who called him to his ministry and charged him and gave him this place. I just appreciate very much that Charles gave me a charge; it's been a few weeks ago that we were together, and he let me know that he was putting it pretty straight that I shouldn't fail either, and I should continue on. That was good for me. We think of a message that came to us in a servants' meeting several years ago. Some of us on either side of the platform were in that meeting, and one of our co-workers mentioned at the beginning of our meeting that the Elijahs and the Elishas have been taken away from us, and we don't want to be ending up as Gehazi. It's good; it's good to think about the role of a servant and what God has called us to, and we appreciate words of exhortation and words of edification. I was appreciating too, as Perry mentioned those words in Luke; I've been reading them in Matthew, where Jesus told His disciples there in Matthew 24, those same words that He gave His servants charge over the household to give them meat in due season. Some of the last spoken words that I'll cherish memories of with Charles, he was just telling not only me, but those that were in the room with him, he said what his (end of page 3)
aspiration was for himself, in this ministry, and it simply was, “I aspired to be a feeder.” It was very obvious that God gave him bread, and he shared so many things with us, and I understand, having been with Charles on numerous occasions, in meetings, that some of the things that he said were not easy for him to say, and maybe they felt very difficult to receive for those of us that were listening, but I remember many things that he told us to encourage us what our goal was, and one thing that I remember him saying, when we would gather for occasions like special meetings, that he'd say that we should edify the body of Christ. Many things like that were just very good words I'm sure he applied to himself, and he was good to pass these things on to us. So, I think that it was quite easy for me to see that God in using him in the ministry all these years, that he was completed in his mission, and he was oh, so looking forward to this day. I think he would have chosen for this to have happened several years ago, and while he was waiting for the Lord to call, some of the words of that hymn that the workers just sang just flowed right out of his mouth, and when he got to the place where he talked about “if He should come at midnight,” it was with a wistful sense. It was beautiful to me that when the time came, it was within an hour, hour and a half of midnight that the Lord came for him. We just love to think of many cherished things...I was just thinking about when we were with him that night, he had many things on his mind. It was obvious that he has prayed for us. When we stopped in - Jason and I stopped in earlier this summer to see him while he was in the nursing home there in Verona - he was not just feeling sorry for himself because he was there, but he said, “I pray for you, all of you on this staff; I pray for you every day.” And I know he had been because when we were there at Charles' bedside on Wednesday night, you could tell he was not just praying for us; he was praying for all of you too and not only in Wisconsin, but he mentioned several people that he hasn't been in their company for a long time; they're from Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky and all of those places where he was. One thought that has come strong to my mind in the last few days, and maybe it's appropriate to say it at this point, is that I've wondered, you know, just how is it that a servant knows what to do, where to go, and what to do? You'd like to get an instruction manual, wouldn't you, for your own work? But how is it? It just kind of came to me in just a simple answer. It is in the way that we sing that hymn that says, “The love of God within my heart will teach me how to do my part in serving Him from day to day and walking Jesus' lowly way.” Who taught Charles to pray for us? God did, and he did it not because it was on the list of things that was required for him to do, but it was because God put the love of God in his heart, and he had us in his heart. It wasn't on a list of things to do, but he loved to pray for us. It's a beautiful thing when a servant does what he does motivated by love and not a sense of duty. I remembered that of him because I know he loved me, and I know he loved you. One of the things that he mentioned there, he was remembering Christ on the cross praying for his tormentors, and he was very, very taken at the end with the fact that Jesus loved everybody, and he prayed for everybody, and he didn't want to hold anything against anybody. And then, Charles said, “I don't have anything against anybody.” It was a very fitting place to finish. There's probably quite a bit that could be said more. One of the things that I found for myself that would explain why so many of you have gathered together today for a man who, as far as this world's interest or concern, he's a nobody; he's never been heard of; he's not famous, not on the world circuit, but he means very much to all of us. And why? Why? I just think of what it says in 1 Thessalonians the 5th chapter, verse 12 and 13, “We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.” It's an explanation that I feel is appropriate. We love the laborer because his labor unto the Lord is the greatest work that has ever been done in the earth. When we think of Jesus coming into this world to give His life so that we could be saved and share in eternal joys, that labor of love has been the whole reason behind our being here. I'm not sure when it was that God put it into the heart of Charles to offer his life for the work. Some weeks ago, he was giving a little bit of his family history, and he said that, maybe most of you would know that his biological parents died when he was very young and he was raised by an aunt and an uncle there in Metter, Georgia. He was seven years old, 1931, when two of God's servants came into that community, and they began to preach. They began to show, I'm sure, the life of the Master who came into this world as a servant, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom. The footsteps of those servants undoubtedly weighed very heavily on Charles' own heart until he yielded himself to be a servant also. And we can give thanks to God that he did that work. You couldn't pay, all the tea in China wouldn't be enough to make people give their lives like men like Charles has done. But I can also say that I wouldn't take all the tea in China for the experiences, the joys of just laboring on with the Lord, to do His work. It has brought us joys that have transcended anything that we've ever known. Also, I might just mention that there's lots of places in the scripture that will give you an answer that the Lord Himself said is going to be the portion of His servants. I like to think of it in a broader spectrum than just limiting this to the workers, who are called to carry the Gospel, but we can all consider ourselves to be servants of the Lord; we're serving Him. There's places in the scripture where the Lord promises what He will do unto His servants, and He has a place for them. There's something in the Old Testament that refers, and also in Matthew, I think it's the 20th chapter, we read about a type of a servant, a eunuch. There are eunuchs that are born eunuchs, and there are eunuchs that are made eunuchs by men, and then it says there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake. And there's a portion in the scripture that says, “I will give them a name that is better than sons and daughters.” I think of our gathering today. So many of you appreciate the life of our brother, and God gave this, and we feel very glad to have just a little part these days in remembering that great work and remembering the place of our Savior as a servant and remembering where our place is. Also, it's been very real to me in these recent weeks that nobody in God's Kingdom enters in seeking place, but they want to fill the place, and if it can be done in an honorable manner, filling the place as a servant, there's so many precious things that will be our portion. We'd like to just be faithful, know how to honor God and to serve Him until the very end.
Now we'll sing in closing, hymn #408 “No Reputation.” All the congregation is invited to sing. After the hymn, we'll ask our funeral directors to come and dismiss us. I believe they intend to have everyone pass by in final review of Charles, beginning in the back section, and everybody will remain outside.
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