having recently moved, and maintaining that sense of chaos within my house as unpacked boxes and partially painted rooms still consume my daily attentions, i've been unable to unearth any photos of Pastor Chuck Smith and me. i realize i can't use this excuse forever, but in this case it really is the truth. when i heard last week of his passing from his temporary tent on earth to his permanent home in heaven i, like many of you, spent time remembering his life, and the impact it had on mine.
i first met papa Chuck, as so many refer to him, in 1985. i was 15 years old and a member of the cast of HiTops, a musical written and produced by Ernie and Debbie Retino (also responsible for creating Psalty the singing songbook). the day of the auditions for HiTops was the first time i'd ever stepped foot on the campus of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. my father pastored the Nazarene Church in Anaheim and that was my home church, so i did not grow up under Pastor Chuck's teaching or attending Calvary, as some have mistakenly believed. however, because of that audition, and my subsequent participation in HiTops, i began a relationship with the community of Calvary Chapel worldwide that continues today. and i'm grateful.
i have loved reading peoples posts and comments on the life and impact of Pastor Chuck over the last few days. my pastor, Levi Lusko, always says that when we do even little things, sow small seeds, into the kingdom that the fruit of those seeds is fruit to our account. i love that idea because often most of us feel that we have so little to offer that it doesn't matter, doesn't count. but truly God uses each of us and whatever we give to further his kingdom. we sow and plant and water (and he may use totally different people to do each of those things) but then HE works it all together and brings the increase, the fruit. Pastor Chuck has sowed much, planted much, watered much... and i guarantee (according to scripture) that his reward in heaven... which he is enjoying!!!... is extravagant!
my favorite memories of Papa Chuck are Harvest Crusade related. once he introduced me as Crystal Hall. she was a worship leader at CCCM years before i came along, and as the new kid, my name was not burned into his memory yet. so her's was the first that came to mind. we can laugh about it now:) another time there was some kind of miscommunication and as i began singing People Get Ready... literally started singing the song... he came up on the platform and walked to the podium and began to speak. we are talking about Anaheim Stadium in front of thousands of people. it was real awkward. again.... laughing now. then, not so much! but my absolute favorite memory is the fact that he began to introduce me as 'everyone's little sweetheart'. i cry thinking about it i tell you. he didn't know me. not really. i mean we were acquainted, he always greeted me with that giant, infectious smile of his and a great big bear hug. he knew who i was. but he didn't KNOW me. everyones little sweetheart? he wasn't familiar with my failures and faults. he didn't know that i wasn't ALWAYS so sweet. he didn't know my doubts and fears. but you know what? i don't think he would've cared. what i mean is... i think if he knew my struggles, he still would've introduced me that way. this man that said no to the political correctness back in the day and said yes to the people that wanted to come to church and investigate the gospel, even though they didn't have shoes on. this man that opened doors for new music and gave hope to a generation desperate for truth. this man loved Jesus, and showed it by his actions. he always made me feel loved.
he put things in motion that changed the world we live in today. fruit to his account. he paved the way for young pastors to lead with unique gifts and callings and cultural relevance based on the Bible. fruit to his account.
i'm eternally grateful (line from HiTops) for his influence on the world we now live in. his life has indeed affected my history. and i think i live today with a heightened sense of hope for Heaven because of it.