I’ve just returned from the funeral of Jeremy Marshall, a trustee of OCCA right up until his death. It was, as they say, a very good funeral. Here was a man who, despite all the usual faults, provides an exceptional model of a faithful servant.
Brought up in a Christian home, taught the scriptures and taken bible-smuggling as a child, he pursued a career in banking. His stellar career is probably why some of the leading newspapers carried his obituary, but it is his astonishing impact on the work of God’s kingdom for which I will celebrate him.
One of his instructions for his funeral was that the sermon should be longer than the eulogy, and so he was remembered as he lived – pointing to Jesus. Returning from the funeral I wanted to share a few reflections.
He made the most of his time.
Jeremy was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 49 and in 2015 was given 18 months to live. Instead of withdrawing from service, he took on new challenges and spend the last decade of his life having an astonishing impact in many different charities.
He pointed others to Jesus.
He found that cancer made him an “accidental evangelist” – he regularly spoke to churches, businesses, schools, and students, and wrote an evangelistic book about his experience, Beyond the Big C.
He was creative and strategic.
He supported older charities and help start new ones. But he also helped some charities to merge to enable more efficient working, so that nothing was wasted. He and some friends bought a bank, renamed it Kingdom Bank and developed it to help churches grow.
He was supportive.
The most difficult conversations I’ve had with the board of trustees have been with Jeremy. This wasn’t because he was a difficult person, but because he really wanted the best. His questions and challenges were perceptive and constructive and made me better at my job.
He was also deeply caring about the personal lives and wellbeing of those working in the charities he served. It’s very easy for trustees to focus on charitable outcomes or tackling problems. But he always had time to ask after my family and look after me.
He was committed.
His tenacity and warmth kept OCCA going through some difficult times and many of the staff and supporters say they might not be with us today if it hadn’t been for his support. We will miss him.