Funeral service of Alan Beggs, on Mon. 19 Feb. 2018. Held in the Greenhill Hotel, Wigton, Cumbria, England.
About 400 or more friends and workers, from G.B., Ireland, Europe and other countries gathered for the service of a beloved brother and friend.
It became apparent to Alan that he had a health problem earlier last year, but it was not until the end of Aug. that a diagnosis was finally made. Alan decided then that he would not be undertaking any surgery or treatments. He said that he felt at peace, and was completely resigned to what his future might be. He continued with the mission work after conventions with Steven Cunningham‘s help in Glasgow, for as long as he was able, until the beginning of Sept. It was then that Edgar Lowe joined Alan, and they stayed on in the house in Hyndland, Glasgow that had been made available to them, to help them work the city. Alan continued to retain a certain independence with Edgar’s help, and over the succeeding weeks many were able to go and visit Alan there. Eventually, as Alan’s health deteriorated further he and Edgar moved to his brother’s home, Gordon and Kathleen Beggs, at Crofton, near the Dockray Hall convention ground, Cumbria, where he could receive more care. Alan thoroughly enjoyed any visits, and greatly appreciated the many who were able to go and see him. As he said, it helped him to take his mind from himself, and think of something else. Finally, Alan was admitted to Carlisle Hospital on Wed. 7 Feb. and it was there that he passed away on Tuesday morning 13 Feb. aged 59 years. He is predeceased by his parents, Bobby and Sadie, and is survived by his brothers Bertie, Gordon and sister Reta and their families.
Alan entered the ministry in 1982, aged 24, labouring firstly in Ireland 1982 – 1991, Colombia /Ecuador 1991 – 1998, and in Ireland again 1998 – 2009, and in the W.Indies 2010 – 2012. He went to Scotland to labour, in the Spring of 2012, where he spent the remainder of his days, apart from convention visits to other countries. Those who had a part in the service reflected the different areas where Alan had worked. He is now laid to rest in the Wigton Cemetery where a number of workers and friends have already been laid to rest.
Alan was borne into the Meeting Hall by Bertie, Gordon and Ryan Beggs and Rodney Bird.
Bob Kerr – Introduction
It’s nice to see such a company – we understand why there’s such a company. As far as we older ones are concerned, if we give in to our human thinking, it just doesn’t seem right that Alan has gone and we’re still here. But that’s the way it is, and we have to leave things in the hands of the God of Heaven. Alan was a fellow who reached out to everyone -no doubt he reached out to you too, in different ways. He had gifts along that line that some of us don’t have. I suppose we could all have an individual story about Alan and that’s good. The one thing he craved for himself was eternal life. But he also craved it for others and that was why he reached out to try to help others so much.
A few of us are going to speak in this service. We can say certain things and obviously we’ll refer to Alan, but there is a God above and He wants to talk and speak individually to our hearts. There are verses in the Bible that seem strange to the human mind. Ecc.7:2 ‘It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting.’ It’s better to come to a place like this that sobers us and makes us ponder what life is all about and realise that this day is not just coming for individuals outside of ourselves, but it’s coming for us too. God wants to lay things on our hearts so that from this point forward we are going to do our best, because, we too crave eternal life with the Lord.
Hymn: Blessed Homeland
Blessed Homeland! I’m returning, others plodding on with me; Friends I’ve met along the highway, True and loyal God to Thee. We have come from Thee, Creator, Why should then we not return? To the bosom of the Father, Earthly things and pleasures spurn. Blessed Homeland! Here a pilgrim, just a transcient passing through, And the earth itself seems stranger, As its scenes slip from my view. How I cherish those beside me, In all weakness hastening on, Bent as I to reach the Homeland, Where the Angels beckon, ‘Come’. Blessed Homeland! Ah! the splendour, There the treasures brightly gleam, There the Father’s house awaits us, All our woes, how small they seem. Just a few more trying stages, Just a few more fleeting years, Then we’ll reach the land Eternal. Past our anxious earthly fears. Blessed Homeland! Long since promised, To the chosen faithful few, In the Kingdom of the Father, Soon we’ll drink the wine anew. Let no kin nor foe nor friendship, Come between to break the trust, Soon this fading earthly landscape, Shall have crumbled into dust.
Craig Fulton: 2 Cor.6:9-10: ‘As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold we live . . ‘. I don’t feel worthy to speak at this funeral. There’s only one thing that I really want to do, to thank God for the work He did in Alan’s life that left him so rich. Alan wouldn’t want to be thanked for anything, all he would want done is that God be thanked. I’d like to speak on behalf of all the Irish staff and all of the friends in Ireland that they would want to do the same thing, just to thank God for what Alan did for them. I don’t think there’s one friend in Ireland who hasn’t been influenced by Alan’s life since he went into the Work. I got to know Alan when I was about 9/10yrs, and at that age he had an influence on my life. In those years, I was troubled by God about giving my life in the Harvest Field. Although we met at conventions every year, we never spoke to each other, but each of us wondered if we were going through the same experience. Even at that age he was an inspiration to me. Alan went into the Work 4 years before me and during my early years in the Work he was an inspiration to me to die. I remember in one of my early years in the Work something took place that left me off-balance & I remember confiding in Alan about that situation. He said: ‘Craig, you have to die’, and that’s what I did. He saw that I was in the Work, but I wasn’t dying. I’ll never forget that. And I could take that from Alan, because I could see that he was in the Work and he was dying. He was dying to himself in everything and because of that he was a help in the kingdom.
Jesus said- Jn.12:24: ‘Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.’ My first companion in the Work, in a very gracious way, pointed this out to me: ‘if it die’, he said: ‘Craig, you have the opportunity to die, and you must make that decision’. I’m very thankful that Alan made that decision that he wasn’t just sowing his life like a seed into the ground and not dying, but he died. It tells us in 2 Cor.6:10: ‘As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich’. Why? Because he died. Alan was unknown in the world, but someone one time, who observed Alan for a period, said to me out of respect for Alan, ‘if Alan hadn’t gone in the Work, he would have gone far in this world’. He would have left his name in the world, but God called him and he hasn’t left a name in this world; he’s unknown, yet well known. ‘As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich’. This is what’s meaningful today, that his life was sown completely. This is what Jesus did, He gave His all. He wasn’t forced. Jesus spoke of His own life, Jn.10:18: ‘No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. No-one forced Alan to lay his life down and die, but he did, and because of that many were made rich. Many were made rich in Ireland, Colombia, the West Indies, and here in Scotland, because he fell into the ground and died, and God did a beautiful work. That inspired me my second year in the Work, and when I met Alan at the end of October, he still inspired me. Why? Because even in that last experience of life he was still dying to himself.
Just to mention one more thing -I want to thank God for everyone that cared for Alan in this last experience of his life and for the tender care with which they did that, because Alan deserved it. Do you know why he deserved it? Because he did that for scores of other people and God has made sure that he was cared for in the same way. God’s promises are true. God is faithful, and we’ve seen that again. I just want to thank God again for all He did in Alan’s life.
We feel a great loss today. But we know that this is the day Alan lived for. He put everything into it. Alan was always there for us, and we can’t look to him anymore. I think all of us would feel part of Alan’s family today. We appreciate Alan’s family who shared Alan with us. When we talked with him, we could get some good advice, help, and understanding. It seems hard to believe that we’re here at Alan’s funeral, because he was always there for us. Alan was a strong man; he made plans and carried them out, like we all do. But there comes a day & for Alan also, when God took over, & God will take over from us too, as far as this planning is concerned. God makes the plans and we have to fit in. We know that Alan made that decision long ago that he would allow God make the decisions in his life. So when it came to this experience too he was able to let God plan.
2 Tim.4:22: Paul wrote and said finally- ‘The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you.’ He said something very similar Gal.6:18: ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.’. What do we say, when we’re saying goodbye to someone? We knew it was no use wishing Alan good health; Paul didn’t wish Timothy good health, prosperity, but he wished that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ would be with him. I believe we saw the Lord with him, and the grace to accept God’s decisions, God’s plan. He told me when he first learned of his illness, that the specialist told him the situation and he said: ‘do you have any questions?’ and Alan said he did have quite a few. Then he said that he went home and got down on his knees and spent some time before the Great Physician. Alan told me then: ‘I could honestly say that I didn’t have any questions’. He said several times, to many people, that he had peace. He could say that because the Lord was with him, and the grace of the Lord was with him.
Everyone of us knew Alan as kind, caring, and considerate. There was a more severe side to Alan too -I saw him quite angry with me on more than one occasion. It was real to me that Alan had high expectations, and I didn’t always come to those expectations. The thing that helped me come to terms with it, was becoming aware that Alan had high expectations of himself also. Very high expectations -he didn’t spare himself one bit. You couldn’t say that he asked more of others than he was asking of himself. It didn’t take long before things were right between us again & I know that Alan didn’t have anything in his heart against me and I don’t think against anyone else either. I thought about the time when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. He knew them through and through. He knew what was in their heart, what they’d done and said, and what they were going to do. I picture Jesus washing all their feet, Judas included, and the message, that Jesus had nothing in His heart against any of those men. Alan didn’t want anything in his heart against anyone either. Rom.5:8: ‘God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’. When Jesus died on the cross, God was showing that He had nothing in His heart against anyone. That’s a very, very precious thing.
Luke 24. Two were on the road to Emmaus talking together, and were sad. It says that Jesus drew near, and talked with them; Alan was able to do that, draw near and was happy to reach out and talk with others in their sadness. Later Jesus said vv.25-26: ‘O fools, & slow of heart to believe . .’. You could say they were harsh words. But when they understood who He was they said vv.24-32: ‘Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us . .‘. Those two people could have remembered the harsh words He’d said to them, but instead they remembered how their heart burned within them while He talked with them. And that’s what I feel about Alan, we remember his love and zeal, it made our heart burn as he talked with us. Just one other little thing, he said to me several times during that year we were together, I think he said it was Eric Moore that said to him: ‘Alan, if you find me a postage stamp, I’ll write on the back of it all your good points!’ That was typical Irish humour. Alan loved it. Well, we would need many, many more postage stamps to write down all Alan’s good points. We appreciated him.
Hymn: How blessed are the undefiled Amid sin’s waste and barren land . . .
I count it a privilege to have a part in this service today. Alan came to us in Colombia at a time when we were in need of Workers. Although he was only with us for 3 years, we were very glad for his help during that time. I would like to mention that David Lockhart & John Chambers & 2 old ladies in Bogotá are singing hymns together at this hour, remembering this service. Alan met one of these ladies when David & he were knocking on doors. Alan couldn’t speak Spanish yet, so he had to call on David to help answer her. She became one of the first-fruits of Bogotá. In N.Colombia there’s another lady professing who Alan met similarly, when he & I were knocking on doors. It’s easy to ask ‘why?’ I had a similar experience to Alan & was told I had only 5 months to live. But when I went to pray I felt such a peace in my heart. We could ask why? Job.33:13: ‘God giveth not account of any of His matters’. Deut.29:29: ‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us . . .’. It’s good not ask questions about these things -the Lord knows best. That’s enough for me. We are very grateful for all those who have finished the course with honour.
One of the last times I was home, I was at a Worker’s funeral -an old warrior who had spent many years in S.America -but his mind went, & finally he passed away. I was glad for the privilege to have a part -we as Workers feel identified with others in the Work – and with all you friends too. But with a Worker we just feel there’s something closer. I remember a funeral service in Findochty too, when I spoke after a friend of the family, who had spoken very highly of the good things that this lady had enjoyed in her daily life. I wondered what could I say after that? I looked down on Ecc.7 & really appreciated noticing how it speaks about the ‘better things’. It’s better to be in the house of mourning than to be in the house of banqueting. This fellow spoke about banqueting and the nice things our friend could enjoy in life. James 1:17: ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above’. We’re glad that Alan left the good gifts & held onto the better, perfect gifts. This is what we’d like to do too. 1Thess.4:13: ‘I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope’. I remember sitting around the bedside of a very faithful old lady as she drew her last breath. This verse flashed into my mind, that we need not sorrow as those that have no hope. I felt the presence of God and I knew she’d made it. That’s what we’re all trying to do, reach the goal. We’re grateful for those who have inspired us to take further steps.
The parable of the ‘pearl of great price’ came to my mind. Matt.13 is really written in order. The first parable speaks when the sower came, sowed and we received the message -the first experience in our lives. Then we read about the leaven & the mustard seed. The seed was taken, by this person himself and sown into his field/heart. Then finally, the last parable speaks about when the angels would come and the net would be cast and the good and bad fish would be separated. That’s in the hands of God on the final judgement day. But the previous parable speaks about the ‘pearl of 3 great price’. I heard about some visiting an old folks’ home in New York. They went to see an old lady who had spent her life in the Work, until her health went. When they went in, they found the nurses worrying, because she’d stayed in bed all day, and hadn’t got up for any meal. But the administrator of that hospital said: ‘I wouldn’t worry about that, she’s only saving her strength for what means most’; she was waiting for the Workers’ visit. She was very faithful all her life and was very efficient in preaching the Gospel, visiting the sick. They were like pearls in her life.
We heard about the gifts that Alan had. Pearls don’t refer to sin, but to costly things that we eventually have to give up. This lady was very faithful in her place, work and visiting, and then when she came into that rest home she would talk to the people there and come to the table and try to tell them about Jesus. But it finally came that she had to give up that pearl too. It speaks of the one who was looking for goodly pearls, as a true person. Alan was looking for goodly pearls all his life. But when you come near the end of life, you have to gradually leave those pearls to one side and hold onto the pearl of great price, to get the rest of God. This lady just waited until the Workers would come. She didn’t do anything else, she left all the pearls aside. I’d like to thank you all for coming and for all who looked after Alan. I’m very glad to feel identified with him here and with you all.
When Alan told me what the story was with his illness it never entered my mind to say ‘why?’. Obviously we would have thought some of us fellows would have been away long before Alan, and that he would be longer here with us in this country. But I must say that when he told me it was so final, I was stunned. I didn’t say why, then or since, because he accepted it -and I can accept it too. I had the first year with him when he came here. One thing I had to acknowledge about him was that he was very zealous, there wasn’t a lazy bone in his body, as he reached out to others. He was zealous and constant. Over the years, we had good times together and his constancy hadn’t changed. He knew how to start the day and he often encouraged people to start the day in same way too. He was very faithful in that.
There’d be many things go through his mind in these last months, and there came a time when he realised that although he didn’t possess much, ‘having nothing, yet possessing all things’, he started to give some of his things away that he knew he’d never have use for again. Some of you folks were maybe at the receving end of some of those things. And as the time passed, he actually got rid of almost everything. Just the very few things that he had left, he was giving them up. When I saw Alan the last time I saw a massive change in him, and it was hard to see him wasting away. It was tough to see that. But I thought, there’s another side that’s not wasting away, and it will never waste away, and it was there to the very end. He was still reaching out to others in his last days, that side wasn’t wasting away. And that old body, which we sometimes think is such a lovely thing, there’s not much to it, it’s all going to be laid away, ‘dust to dust’. But we look forward to the day when, through the Spirit that’s working within us, we’ll be clothed with an incorruptible body, just like the Lord Himself.
There’s not much in this old flesh after all, but if we let the Spirit of the Lord work in it, there’s the promise of eternal life. We have to sow, up to a point, to natural things, but the focus of a child of God, is sowing to the Spirit. If we just sow to the flesh, we know that there’s no future -it’s corruption at the end. But when we sow to the Spirit, we shall of the Spirit reap everlasting, eternal life. Alan received gifts through the Spirit -they were given to him initially, and he tried to pass them onto others throughout his life. As a saint and in the Work. Eternal gifts -hymn 208: ‘Our blessed Redeemer, ere He breathed His tender, last farewell, a Guide, a Comforter bequeathed . .’, that was the Spirit. When Jesus was about to leave His disciples, He said to them, Jn.14:15-18: ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’, and ‘I will pray the Father, He shall give you another Comforter . .’. He called him the ‘Spirit of truth’. ‘Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it doesn’t know him, ‘but ye know him: for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless’.
This was the gift He was going to send. No-one has seen God. There were those who lived 2000 years ago, who were privileged to see Jesus in the flesh for a short while, but He promised that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, would always be there, to the end of the world. Jesus mentions him again; Jn.14:25-26: ‘These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things . . . And that is the work of the Spirit. So we can all have that. He mentioned again Jn.15:26: ‘when the Comforter is come, who I will send unto you he shall testify of me’ And once more Jn.16:13-15: ‘Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth . . . All the things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.’ No contradiction. The Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
When we have the Spirit of the Lord we have Jesus, and when we have Jesus we have the Father -they’re all working together for the sake of our eternal soul. Ro.1:11: ‘I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift . . . ‘. Earthly gifts that a person might give to you are alright for a time, but there’s no eternity in it. Paul was longing to come 4 and see these people so that he could impart unto them some spiritual gift, an eternal gift. Ro.1:12: ‘That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.’ Faith in God, and faith in Jesus, in the guidance of this Holy Spirit, that we’re allowing to work in us every day that God gives us. Paul said later, Ro.8:9: ‘if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.’ Isn’t that awful? So we all want to make sure we’re being led by the Spirit of God. Ro.8:14: ‘as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God’. Speaking of the eternal side Ro.8:11: ‘if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit . .’. So that’s what we want to be sowing to: if you sow to the flesh there is no eternal future, but sowing to the Spirit you’ll reap life everlasting. That’s what we’ve been hearing today and what Alan tried to tell us when he was with us in lifetime: ‘sow to the Spirit’.
I did marvel at his zeal, and even in those last days, when health was failing, the zeal for the things of God was still there. There’s the side that is of the Spirit and nothing douses it. If we’re sowing to that and letting it work, even if everything else is going, that’s the thing that will safely take us into the grave and beyond. Glad for good memories. But we can’t live on memories, individually we have to sow to the Spirit.
Edgar Lowe prayed
Hymn: With The Lord
When the ones we love and cherish Leave this world of sin behind, Though we may not understand it, With the Saviour death is kind.
Chorus: With the Lord it will be better! Precious words when in despair, For He said, ‘I’ll go before you, And will come and take you there.’
When the human ties are broken, And alone we seem to share; As a mother woos her children, He doth understand and care.
When we face the darkest valley And the future may be dim; Only trust the Lord more fully, For the night is day with Him.
When in life we walk with Jesus And His wondrous ways adore; We will have His presence with us When our days on earth are o’er.
Interment at Wigton Cemetery.
Family members, close friends and Workers shared in bearing the coffin.
Bertie, Gordon and Ryan Beggs and Rodney Bird lowered the coffin.
How real to know the mighty pow’r of Jesus
To let Him reign supreme o’er all within . . .
The night before he died, Alan asked for his hymnbook. He said this hymn is very real to me today. We can understand that.
1 Cor. 15:3-4: ‘For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day . . .’. Matt 22:31-33: ‘But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living . . .’. Well, you’ve all done something today that you like to do, so you’ll all be happy! We heard that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting, so every one of you who gathered, you have bettered yourself today! We all like to better ourselves, whether it’s financially or in relationships or whatever. And as we heard, God has been speaking to us all. What could be better than that? Well, there could be something better than that – to go away and obey what He says.
I wasn’t here to witness Alan lying in the casket, but the day came when Alan wasn’t able to lift one finger to help himself. We read that Jesus died for us according to the scriptures and, He was raised again on the third day ‘according to the scriptures’. It must have been a very pathetic sight to see the body of Jesus nailed to the cross, when He couldn’t lift one finger to help Himself. But in His lifetime He had obeyed His Father ‘according to the scriptures’, so when the time came that Jesus gave Himself in death for us, the time also came when God raised Him up from the dead on the third day according to the scriptures. In lifetime, we have the option of not doing the will of God. But if in lifetime, we are willing to obey the Gospel and do the will of God according to the scriptures, when this day comes for us as it has come for Alan, unable to do anything more for himself, God will take care of raising us from the dead according to the scriptures, in coming time. According to the scriptures God has given us a promise: if we are willing to suffer with Jesus now, we will be glorified with Him for all eternity. So we want to obey the scriptures, don’t we? And we want to do all things according to the scriptures in lifetime so that when this day comes for us, and we can do no more for ourselves, God will take over and He will raise His people again.
When Jesus was speaking to these people, He said ‘do you not know what God has said to you?’ We ought to be listening to what God is saying. How can we have any hope of salvation, if we, in lifetime, are not listening to what God is saying? You can’t do anything better in life than listening to the God of Heaven, because God is the greatest One. We will be blessed indeed if we obey what He says. And God said I’m the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and then Jesus added He’s not the God of the dead – He’s the God of the living. When Stephen was stoned to death, Acts 7:60: -‘He fell asleep’. Alan has fallen asleep for the last time. In lifetime, we fall asleep often and we rise often, all through life. We go to bed when we’re tired in the evening, and get up in the morning. Some of you take a little rest in the afternoon, and you might fall asleep, and you waken again. Alan has fallen asleep in Christ for the last time. He will be wakened never to sleep again. And that is our hope as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
I come from Guyana, a part of the Caribbean that Alan never reached. He reached all the other English speaking islands, but he never reached Guyana. Just before I came away from there in Nov., when Alan was already in the toils of his illness, I was telling the friends in Guyana about him and I was impressed, that altho’ having never met the man, just how interested they were in their brother here in Scotland. Always asking: ‘what word of Alan today?’ Never having met him, and yet still so interested in their brother. That’s the fellowship, friends, we’re not in some cold religion, we’re not in some cold organisation, we are in a family that has a care for each other. I’m very grateful for that.
I’m grateful for my experience with Alan too – I didn’t know him too well, nor was his companion, but I can see that one could work with him. But we realise that the hero of the situation today is Jesus, the Son of God, who has turned this from a day of defeat and terrible remorse into a day of living hope beyond the grave, a day of rejoicing and of victory. May it be the same for all of us when we pass from life into the grave, a day of victory, because Satan has been defeated once again and been denied another victory. May we be wise and a more sober people as we leave this graveside today.
John Johnston prayed.
All then returned to the Greenhill Hotel, Wigton for Refreshments.