Today marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of Dr. Wayne Allen. Dr. Allen served as our Senior Pastor for 34½ years. To honor him on this day, I have posted my sermon from his funeral. As you read the text, I hope you are reminded of the great man he was, but more than that, I hope your heart is filled for the Savior He was faithful to proclaim. When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.
Funeral for Dr. Wayne Allen
September 21, 1929 – June 4, 2012
Dr. Allen was my pastor. He will always be my pastor, because, though he is dead, he still speaks. His life continues to preach long after his days are done. We, in many ways, are his legacy.
I have done numerous funerals with Dr. Allen. To preach his, is one of greatest honors of my life. I don’t take this moment lightly. This will be a memory I will always cherish. Thank you, Mrs. Allen.
This church was founded in 1909. For 1/3 of the time we have existed as a body, Dr. Wayne Allen was at the helm. Only eternity will tell the impact that Wayne Allen made on the Kingdom. In fact, I believe he has met many people in Heaven who are there because He was obedient, preached, and shared his faith. We are privileged to know him and to have served alongside him in ministry.
We are grieved—but filled with biblical hope. Not the wishful thinking of humanity, but biblical hope—guaranteed assurance Dr. Allen is with Lord. We have that assurance because of Scripture.
Today, I want us to open God’s Word and spend a little time reflecting on the legacy of Dr. Allen. Turn in your Bible to Acts 20. I am reading from Dr. Allen’s Bible today.
The scene in Scripture is a going away event. Many of the emotions of today were also felt 2,000 years ago when the apostle Paul was leaving. In Acts 19:1, Paul arrives in Ephesus and verse 8 says he spent the first three months arguing and pleading with the Jewish community about the kingdom of God. But the opposition became so intense Paul moved out of the synagogue.
For two years, he argued daily in the Hall of Tyranus. During these two years amazing things happened. God did many miracles through Paul. Paul’s success in evangelism was so great that the silversmiths who made silver shrines for the goddess Artemis feared for their business and even believed the temple of Artemis itself was in danger of being ruined. So they stirred up a riot. Paul leaves town then after years of ministry and travels to a few places.
In verse 17, Paul sends for the Elders of the church in Ephesus. That is the context of Paul’s message which he preaches in verse 18. As we look at this passage, I believe we gain a glimpse into the legacy of Dr. Allen.
I. Personal Ministry
Acts 20:18-19 (NIV)
18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.
19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.
1. How he lived
Paul begins by reminding elders of the church of Ephesus about the way that he lived. You know how I lived. You don’t need anyone’s testimony. You yourselves know.
The sad truth today is that many Christians set a poor example. Not in what they say, but in how they live. The German philosopher Nietzsche said, “I will not believe in the Redeemer of Christians until they show me that they are redeemed.”
Paul told the elders, “You saw how I lived. I need nothing else to back me up.” For Dr. Allen, the greatest sermon he ever preached was his life. The most memorable sermon he ever preached was his life. The greatest sermon on faithfulness was his life. The greatest message on service was his life.
I have nothing to prove today. We saw it. We saw how he lived among us from day one. If you didn’t know Dr. Allen, let me assure you, “what you saw is what you got.” He never asked us to do something he was not doing. He never asked us to lead a life different from how he was striving to lead his life. Dr. Allen’s greatest message was his life.
19 I served the Lord with great humility
Paul says the mark of a true servant of God is humility. Humility is the recognition that God has total and absolute control over your life. Whatever pleases God pleases you.
Have Thine own way, Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Humility doesn’t think in terms of “my rights.” Humility empties itself and takes the form of a servant.
Dr. Allen served this church with great humility. He was the most egoless man I know. He was willing to let others stand in this pulpit and have a chance to preach. He was willing to let others have the spotlight and the glory. He was willing to sacrifice what is best for himself so that someone else might have what is best.
He was willing to step aside at age 70 to let some 28-year-old punk kid, lead something he treasured. He never got in the way. In fact, he was rabid about that. I had to get him in the way. Asking, begging him to get involved. He was always willing to help and advise, but never willing to get in the way.
He was man of humility who knew this church belonged to God and he refused to do anything to put it in jeopardy. His message was about dying to self and enthroning Jesus Christ.
Like our Savior, Dr. Allen walked in humility.
19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears
Paul served the people of Ephesus with tears. Why did Paul serve with tears? It was because he was willing to get involved in people’s lives. If you get intensely involved with people, you can’t help but cry over sad situations.
Acts 20:31 (NIV)
Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
Paul’s tears were an intense yearning for faith and holiness in the lives of the hearers.
Dr. Allen, no doubt, shed many tears on our behalf. Some of you may have never seen Dr. Allen get emotional. I have seen him shed tears in emergency rooms when faithful members have stepped into Heaven.
I can tell you where I have seen him shed tears the most. Inside. Dr. Allen was broken for people on many occasions. Tears may not have appeared in his eyes, but they were there in his heart. He hurt for hurting people.
Why did he shed tears? For the same reason as with Paul. If you get intensely involved with people, you can’t help but cry over some situations.
4. Severe Tests
Paul went through a lot of dangerous situations. His faith was put to the test on many occasions.
Dr. Allen led this church through some severe tests. He was willing to stand in the face of opposition. For example, he led us to make the move to our current campus. He was willing to start a satellite ministry between this campus and the downtown location. He stood up for principle when hardly anyone would stand with him—even when it made people angry at times. He stood firm and always responded in a Christ-like manner.
This was not only true for our church, but also our denomination. Dr. Allen was always leading in calling our denomination to reconciliation for the sake of the Gospel around the world.
He faced severe tests, but always as a man of grace.
This was Dr. Allen’s personal ministry.
II. Public Ministry
Acts 20:20 (NIV)
You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly.
Not hesitating in preaching truth
Paul never hesitated to proclaim the truth of God’s Word, whether he was liked or not. It seems that there are parts to the whole counsel of God that are profitable but evidently not easy to teach about. Just like some medicine is good for you but may not go down easily, sometimes preaching on difficult topics doesn’t always go down easily.
Paul says that a good elder does not decide what to teach by what is popular or easily accepted. If it is part of God’s counsel, it ought to be taught because it will be profitable. This takes courage.
Dr. Allen never once shrank back from proclaiming to us the whole counsel of God. Name the topic: tithing, attendance, abortion, homosexuality, Dr. Allen never hesitated to preaching anything that would be helpful to us. Sometimes we didn’t like what he had to say. Sometimes he stepped on, crushed, and ground our toes into powder. Sometimes we even thought he was mad, not just at the congregation, but specifically at us. But we recognize he simply preached the truth in love. He said the hard things because he loved us, but he loved the Lord more.
And for that, we must say thank you, Lord.
III. Private Ministry
20…and from house to house.
Paul didn’t just preach and then run home to catch the game. Paul was involved in the lives of the people of Ephesus. Paul didn’t just preach in the big pulpit. He went to people’s homes to teach and to minister.
We all saw the public ministry of Dr. Allen. But some of us were blessed to observe his private ministry. He made personal visits in people’s homes. He saw them in the hospital, graveside, or even jail. He lived life with people.
One family told the story of how Dr. Allen came to provide ministry in their time of need on Christmas Eve. He had given up numerous Saturdays to visit in people’s homes. It was said he was at his best when ministering to someone who lost a loved one. He knew their pain. Yet he communicated faith and strength. He preached his own father’s, mother’s, and brothers’ funerals. He was a man of strength.
He has also ministered in private ways that no one but the Lord and Dr. Allen’s family would see. We would have people who would come to the church for financial needs. Oftentimes, Dr. Allen would pull money out of his wallet, not church money, personal money, to help someone get along in life.
When I was in seminary, Dr. Allen would ask me to preach while he was away speaking at another church. He would always give me half of the love offering he received from that church for filling in for him. To enable the church to do more ministry, Dr. Allen, without telling the Personnel Committee, went in several years ago and cut almost ¼ of his salary. There are many things we saw in his public ministry, but only Heaven will tell all he did in his private ministry.
His greatest private ministry was to his family. He loved his kids—Steve, Sunni, Grant. He was so very proud of them. He was so grateful because they knew how much he had to be gone. Ministry (when done right) demands a lot of a family. His kids represented him well. He loved your families, and was so proud of those grandkids.
But the love of his life was Theresa. Wayne and Theresa—like peanut butter/jelly—they were always together. Over 60 years of friendship and love.
Mrs. Allen always supported Dr. Allen. She put his interests and needs before her own. She made their house a home. His success was her success, because she modeled the biblical role of a wife so well. Mrs. Allen knows all Dr. Allen went through all through the years, but especially in the last days, weeks, and months of his life. She did well and is to be honored as well.
Mrs. Allen told me these words of her husband, “He belonged to the people.” Yes, he did. But we all know, Mrs. Allen, truly he belonged to you.
On behalf of entire church, lives touched around world, thank you.
Thank you for his Personal Ministry, his Public Ministry, and his Private Ministry.
IV. Passionate Message
Acts 20:21 (NIV)
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
Paul was passionate about preaching the message of Jesus Christ. He wanted more than anything for people to come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Verse 21 records the two points of Paul’s message: Repentance and faith. To have a relationship with Jesus Christ, it requires both. You must repent and place your faith in Jesus to save you. This was Paul’s message.
This was Dr. Allen’s message as well. It was his theme. Dr. Allen was a man who was redemptive in his personality. He didn’t hold grudges. He let people who made terrible mistakes to try again, and he encouraged others to repent and turn to God.
From Carrollton to India, Dr. Allen shared the faith. When you think of his ministry, maybe many words come to mind. But for me, it will always be missions. As I say, I went to the Wayne Allen School of Missions.
He took me to India in 1993. In India, it was customary for men to hold hands. When we were there, I went up and held his hand. He about knocked me into next week!
But Dr. Allen was a man with a mission and a man on mission. What is missions? It is sharing the message of Jesus Christ with those who have not heard. Dr. Allen was a man focused on one message: the Good News of Jesus Christ. He was passionate about this message.
If you have never trusted Christ, there is no better way to honor Dr. Allen’s life than to place your faith and trust in the One Who saved him. To believe in what Christ has done for you on the cross. To receive forgiveness offered by God through His Son.
Today, Dr. Allen is in Paradise. He is with the Lord praising the Savior he proclaimed for all eternity. Many giants, heroes have fallen to idols of clay. But Dr. Allen was faithful to the end.
He finished strong, leaving a legacy of faith, endurance, and victory. Dr. Allen was transformed as a child when he trusted Christ. His life was all about being transformed into the image of Christ. Now, he has been transformed, glorified in the presence of Christ.
We have talked a lot about Dr. Allen. Dr. Allen would say, “It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus.”
I would respectfully say, “No. Because it is all about Jesus, it’s also about great men like Dr. Wayne Allen.”