(1900 — 1982)
. . our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellowbondslave in the Lord.” — (Colossians 4:7, NASV)
After over 60 years of faithful and devoted full-time service for his beloved Lord, Mr. James Gunn was called Home to be “with Christ” from Bethany Lodge, Unionville, Ontario (where he had been for only a day or two) on November 27, 1982.
On the afternoon of November 30, 1982, between four and five hundred people gathered for the funeral service at Don Valley Bible Chapel, Toronto, which had been Mr. Gunn’s home assembly for the last few years of his life.
Appropriate ministry was given by Dr. James T. Naismith and Mr. T. Ernest Wilson, special music having been provided by Mr. Gary Pickell. Dr. Naismith, who was personally acquainted with Mr. Gunn for twenty years, read from Romans 8:28 & 29, and paid tribute to a great man of God, a beloved father and friend, an outstanding servant of Christ, and a devoted student and teacher of God’s Word. He spoke of Mr. Gunn’s more than 60 years of service in several countries, including Venezuela, where the latter labored in the work of the Lord during his early years.
Mr. T. Ernest Wilson ministered from 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2 and 4:5-8, having first met Mr. Gunn 52 years before at Swanwick Gospel Hall, Toronto. By then, both brethren had been on the mission field a few years — Mr. Gunn in Venezuela and Mr. Wilson in Angola. Mr. Wilson also took the graveside service, having recalled a message on three passages in Revelation which had been given by Mr. Gunn 40 years before at a conference in Forest, Ontario. Mr. Gunn’s subject was, “What Heaven Is Like,” and the references he used were Revelation 4:1-4, 21:1-5 and 22:1-6.
All of us who are linked with “Food for the Flock” magazine, along with a host of friends in Canada, the United States and overseas, join in expressing our Christian love, heartfelt sympathy and the continuance of our prayers to Mr. Gunn’s daughter, Gene (his faithful companion and nurse for the last years of his life); to his son, Graham; to his daughter, Anne; and to his four grandchildren.
It was my personal joy to have first met Mr. Gunn at the old Louisiana Street Gospel Hall in Houston, Texas, in the early 50’s during my student days at Dallas Theological Seminary (I even recall on that day that he spoke from 1 John). A few years later we met again in Houston, and it was at this time that our friendship began to blossom. It was also at that time that he both invited and encouraged me to do some writing for “Food for the Flock” magazine. In later years we ministered together at conferences in Ontario, Texas and New Jersey and, of course, we always looked forward to renewing fellowship at our annual magazine committee meeting in Toronto. In 1969 Mr. Gunn invited me, with the full approval of the magazine committee members, to join him as associate editor. Toward the end of 1973 he indicated that he would like me to take over the editorship, so during 1974 we worked closely together toward this goal, and then at the close of that year (with a proper sense of “fear and trembling” on my part) we switched responsibilities. From 1969 we enjoyed a particularly close relationship and frequently corresponded. Both my wife and I felt a special kinship with Mr. Gunn, since Mrs. Gunn and my father-in-law had multiple sclerosis, and through this we were able to genuinely appreciate this specific kind of trial which Mrs. Gunn endured for over 40 years.
Mr. Gunn was one of my chief encouragers in the work of the Lord and, among other things such as his personal friendship and fellowship and his prayers, I shall greatly miss his letters. As a fitting close to this brief sketch, I quote from the words of his last letter to me which was written on September 24, 1982, words which express his usual gracious and gentle manner:
Dear Brother Ross:
I deeply appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness: your phone call, your card and letters. I have done very little writing, and am sorry that you had to wait so long for an acknowledgment of all these.
May the Lord Himself reward you fully, both now and in the future.
I have very little strength just now but the doctors say that will increase. I can only hope so.
Following some personal words of counsel, Mr. Gunn closed by writing:
May the Lord bless you, Ross, and continue to make you a great blessing to His people.
With warm love in our Lord Jesus, I remain,
Sincerely in Him,
W. Ross Rainey
(Editor’s note: Additional gratitude is expressed to Dr. James T. Naismith for providing me with specific details of the funeral service for Mr. Gunn.)