The first three are remembered in the national psyche as they were formidable in their chosen field, Sport, The Media and Business.
Sport: Tony Greig
Tony Greig died aged 66 from a heart attack in Sydney. Born in South Africa, migrated to England where he eventually captained the MCC, sided with Kerry Packer to get World Series Cricket under way and thus changing the face of cricket forever and made Australia his home as a cricket commentator. Who can forget watching him press his key into the cricket pitch turf before a Test Match. (www.smh.com.au)
Media: Peter Harvey
Peter Harvey, one of Australia's best loved and trusted television journalists died in March, succumbed to pancreatic cancer, age of 68. He initiated his journalistic career with the Sydney Daily Telegraph and this led him to the UK and then to the US where he covered the Vietnam War for Newsweek. Returning to Australia for Channel 9 he headed up their Canberra Bureau at only 30 years of age and stayed with the network for the next 37 years. His statesmanship was beyond reproach and his gravely voice and the tone of his "Canberra" signing off will be remembered by several generations. (www.theaustralian.com.au)
Business: James Strong
James Strong died in March on Sunday in Sydney from complications following surgery, he was 68. He earned the nickname "Mr Bow Tie" for his sartorial elegance and preference in neckwear as he ran Qantas between 1983 and 2001. In a varied career he also chaired Insurance Australia Group, Rip Curl Group and the board of Woolworths. He was a director of Dorna Sports, which manages MotoGP worldwide. He was an enthusiastic motorbike rider, a pilot and mountaineer, and was to have chaired the local organising committee for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. He loved opera and his loss is felt by the business community. (www.news.com.au)
These three were larger than life characters who we saw on our television screens in various guises and each exercised a tremendous input into the nation in their fields on endeavour.
As a Christian I see that there is another dimension to someone's contribution. These people don't have national headlines and national bereavement when they died, rather there was another chorus, an unseen choir.
Tony Greig, Peter Harvey and James Strong, like many other Australians who did well in their chosen fields, were handsomely rewarded for their remarkable contributions. But when they died, they left this world facing another. Every bible believer is well aware from the Scriptures that it is faith in Jesus Christ opens a wonderful and marvellous and indescribable eternity with the Lord.
I recall a cricket memorial service at the Gabba where the Qld cricket chaplain the Reverend Lionel Rose described it as when the umpire raises his finger. His innings was up. There was no use playing any imaginary shots walking back. The question was: Which pavilion is he going to?
Ron Ross, former WIN4 Sports Editor, now evangelist at large, was a church pastor, was with YWAM and then Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, wrote a column in the Noosa News way back in 1994 when I was visiting my parents (I was serving at the Australian cricket team chaplain). He wrote that my name might not be in lights here, but in heaven my name is in capital letters.
And so too every follower of Jesus Christ, along with celebrated Australian evangelist John Chaplan (Chappo) who also died a few months ago,.
Religious: John Chapman
John Chapman ('Chappo'), died at the age of 82. He is best known as the Director of Evangelism in the Diocese of Sydney (1969–93) and as an exceptional preacher and teacher whose influence has spread across the world. The evangelistic passion which today characterises the Diocese of Sydney owes much under God to Chappo and his ministry.
He stirred generations to evangelise through expositions of the Bible. Right to the end he challenged us to keep Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins and the promise of life with God forever at the centre of our message and our life together. Chappo was also Emeritus Vice-president of the Anglican Church League and his memory will encourage us to remain vocal and stand firm in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tony Payne of Mathias Media in the Briefing said this: He taught us how to evangelise, how to preach, how to think theologically about ministry, how to pursue holiness and plenty more besides, but he also taught us that life was to be lived with laughter, joy and thanksgiving, even in the midst of our hardships. (matthiasmedia.com)
John Chapman was a world figure in evangelicalism, and this global evangelical world mourned for John Chapman. Moreover there was a supernatural rejoicing in his elevation to Glory.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html