“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)
Dr. Earl Jessup laid down his armour and entered the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ on August 8, 2016. He was born in Beckley, West Virginia on August 18, 1949. He was saved at the age of eight and called to preach at the age of 14. He and his sweetheart, Beth, were married in 1970 and came to Canada as missionaries soon after. God used him to established churches in Pickle Lake and Fort Francis, Ontario, and then to pastor Kirkfield Park Baptist Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba. While at Kirkfield Park, the Lord used them to start seven other churches in Manitoba. Sensing the need to be fulltime in church planting, Bro. Jessup founded the Baptist Church Planting Ministry in 1993. Since that time, 158 Independent Baptist Churches have been planted around the world. For the last seven years of his life he battled with cancer.
When I think of Earl Jessup, I think of a man who was a true friend. He was sincere and never manipulated or selfishly used our friendship. He had the proper balance of both seriousness and humour. We shared the same passion for church planting and a desire to see Canada reached for Christ.
Bro. Jessup was also loving and loyal family man. He dearly loved his wife Beth, his five children and 18 grandchildren. For the last few years he had a project of reading though the Bible each year, but more than that, he would start with a new Bible each year and underline it and make notes in order to present it to one of his grandchildren upon their high school graduation.
Other qualities I remember about him was his leadership abilities and integrity. “Do it, and do it right,” is what he expected. He would work together with others—cooperation, but without compromise. Truly he was a man of conviction and was willing to pay the price to be true to the Scriptures. Another preacher described Earl Jessup like a General MacArthur: having determination and vision, coupled with confidence and focus, able to lead a campaign, while loving the Lord supremely. One of the purposes of Baptist Church Planting Ministry was to provide credibility for the new church and pastor.
Bro. Jessup was what he was because of the Lord Jesus Christ, who saved him, called him, prepared him, sent him, and mightily worked in him. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). I believe God has been glorified by this life that was dedicated to Him. May the Lord speedily raise up other labourers to fill the void left by his passing.
By Pastor David Harness, Sr.