Chuck Smith, the evangelical pastor who preached the Gospel to a generation of hippies, died on Thursday after battling lung cancer.
He passed away at the age of 86, two years after being diagnosed with the illness.
Smith was the founder of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, in California, where he was pastor since 1965. Despite his illness, he still continued to preach and be involved in the running of the church.
In the sixties and seventies, his church became popular with hippies and gave rise to the Jesus People Revival. Among the converts was Greg Laurie, who today leads the packed-out Harvest festivals.
Laurie said: “As Pastor Chuck fought this dreaded disease he still maintained a very full schedule of preaching and serving the Lord to the very end.
“I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy – ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.’ (2 Tim 4:7-8)
“Rarely does a man come along that impacts a generation,but Chuck Smith was that man. He certainly impacted my life.
“Chuck is now in Heaven and he will certainly hear the Lord say, ‘Well done,good and faithful servant. . .Now enter the joy of the Lord!’ (Matt.25:23)
“There is much more I will say in the days ahead, but for now let’s remember to pray for Chuck’s family and his congregation, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.”
Calvary Chapel is credited with changing the face of American Protestantism, renewing the focus on evangelism and creating culturally engaged churches.
Holland Davis, founder and senior pastor of Worship Life Calvary Chapel in San Clemente, California, praised his friend and mentor.
“Pastor Chuck has influenced my life from the time I was 16 until today,” he said.
“He was the first person who told me I could believe all the Bible. It was 100% true and 100% relevant for today. I had the privilege of serving on staff with Pastor Chuck and will cherish the memory of those days for the rest of my life.”
Twitter tributes to Chuck Smith:
Ed Stetzer @edstetzer
Chuck Smith & @CalvaryChapel helped a new generation of churches see a deep passion for evangelism.
Lee Strobel @LeeStrobel
Chuck Smith lit Gospel fires all over the world. Countless people were inspired into action by his passion for evangelism.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association @BGEA
Our prayers are with @calvarychapel and loved ones of Pastor Chuck Smith who passed away today after battling lung cancer.
Brian Houston @BrianCHouston
I hear Pastor Chuck Smith preached on the last Sunday if his life with an oxygen bottle. Wow. Courage to the end!