About 10 years ago my friend Julian Ide said “I’d like to introduce you to my father, I think you’d get on”. It was one of the best introductions I ever had for David and I got on like the proverbial house on fire. I ended up taking over from him as Chairman of the two charities he founded. David reminded me in some ways of my father (and as I shall explain they were connected).
David went without warning to be with the Lord on Friday 12th June and this is a personal tribute to a dear brother and a friend.
David Ide was born in 1935 into difficult family situation, he mainly grew up with an absent father though amazingly enough David himself became a father figure to many . Neighbouring family friends the Sneller’s helped take care of David.
David’s family were Exclusive Brethren. As a young man he and a number of others left, and that inflicted painful wounds which lasted all his life. Many people going though that experience found their faith damaged or destroyed, but David’s faith was resilient and these troubled early experiences created a warmth and deep humanity about his life. Nothing was too much trouble and he was loving, kind and compassionate to all and especially those labouring with the difficulties of life, as I was to find out myself.
David made his career in building, via his father who had an existing business. For a while David’s office was a Rolls Royce, in which he used to dictate memos to his secretary. Over time David became more interested in Christian work mainly through his church in East Horsley, Surrey. David was an elder here and was such a help to many, as Roy Proctor and others have said. He was very influenced in his enthusiasm for evangelism by the then pastor, Paul Bassett.
David met his wife Marion in the brethren. They had two children, Julian and Joanne and many grandchildren of which David was incredibly proud. Every time we met up he would regale me with their latest escapades. David was devoted to Marion, who passed away about 5 years ago and was such an encouragement to him, especially in her support for his travelling in Eastern Europe. They lived in a beautiful converted stables for about 60 years. Christian board meetings were therefore often held (appropriately enough!) in a stable, which came complete with a pipe organ and a grand piano (Marion was a fine musician). These meetings were provided with slap up breakfasts with the finest food served on bone china! The home was also used for wonderful hospitality to visiting international students. David was very involved in setting up Friends International in Guildford and he and Marion entertained up to a 100 students at a time at their home. One Chinese student kept up correspondence over the years. In the last few years as a retired government official he finally advised David and Marion that he was now attending a church in Beijing.
David’s enthusiasm and energy for Christian work was boundless. David started taking an interest in Eastern Europe even before the end of communism. As with my father this led to some “buccaneering” visits. On one occasion David took £20,000 in cash with him for humanitarian aid and was detained at the airport in Kiev for many hours. The officials accused him of being a spy and David after being cross-questioned eventually in exasperation said “yes I am “ and the policemen laughed, and let him go.
David was involved all over Eastern Europe, visiting Serbia with me many times to help set up a seminary there and also deeply involved in Macedonia. Many of his activities were also linked with a church in Mallorca which was a great retreat for him after the loss of Marion. David was an honorary elder at the church in Palma. Years ago he was caught in the middle of a furious argument. He suggested that they all took a break for 5 minutes to calm down. While the others left the room the one local left said to David: “Would you care for a cigarette?” This was the only time he said, he had such an offer in an elders’ meeting: not quite in line with his strict Brethren upbringing!
He was particularly passionate about Ukraine which he visited nearly 100 times, his energy and enthusiasm undimmed even at 85! What an example! David would typically on his visits, which lasted for three weeks, travel for over 4000 km, preaching every single day especially in villages and more out of the way places. David was a wonderful warmhearted preacher and evangelist. Amazingly enough David was determined in his gospel enthusiasm to visit the front lines of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine -which is still ongoing. David was appointed an honorary chaplain to the Ukrainian Army to enable him to visit and regularly went to the front line to preach and heard shells sailing overhead. Sometimes the two sides would arrange a ceasefire while he preached. On one occasion the rebels sent a message saying they knew he was there at the front line, but wouldn’t fire. Often there was a great spiritual hunger. At one service such was the power of God that the English pastor accompanying him finally had to say “Stop, David, stop preaching, just let the Holy Spirit do the work”.
Another time David was driving with the same pastor and they saw a lady sitting on a doorstep in front of her house in the middle of nowhere, and as they drove past they both felt directed by the Spirit that they should go back and talk to her. They turned the car around and did so. Soon enough a mini impromptu preaching meeting was taking place. On another occasion a lady came up to David in church and said “do you remember me ?” David had to confess he didn’t, at which she told him she had come drunk to his preaching 7 years before and badly disrupted the service only to, through that event, eventually come to faith.
A Ukrainian friend of David, Svetlana, writes “When the crisis began in Ukraine in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, many needs appeared – assistance to refugees, orphans and low-income people. Doors were opened for preaching in; boarding schools, a hospital for war veterans in Kharkov, educational institutions, the centre for social services for families, children and youth. Also, more people began to come to church to receive help, and many of them opened their hearts to listen to the gospel. David supported the work of the prison mission and the rehabilitation centre for alcoholics and drug addicts. The support of local churches was a special ministry of Brother David. He helped financially and in conducting summer camps for children and the disabled. It is simply amazing how much work was done with the participation of David. He was a special vessel of God and joyfully did what the Lord called him to do. Where David was, life was always “in full swing. “He loved people and immediately became “an insider” for his listeners in a variety of places – both for children and adults. He was deeply dedicated to God and at the same time was simple, unpretentious, with a good sense of humour, open to everything new and good.”
Another friend of David, Ruslan Antonov, writes “I know this title may sound a little unusual for believers in England – Pastor David Ide – but for believers in Ukraine it became a common title to address Brother David. When Brother David started to come to villages of Chudniv and the other districts of Zhitomir region he preached the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ with passion and tears, inviting people to repentance. We recognised a strong gift of evangelism in him as well as spiritual leadership and care. So we decided to ordain Brother David as a pastor. Another pastor adds “David took an active part in my family life and trials. When our oldest son was born with severe disabilities he prayed over him and comforted me and my wife, he prayed a prayer of blessing in our family house. He telephoned us from England and prayed for our family. He was a very positive and optimistic Christian man. He glorified God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in his sermons and it really inspired and built up the saints. “
Back to Ruslan to summarise “Pastor David had a vision and strategy on how to involve young brothers in the ministry and to work with the older generation. By his own example, he led us to deeper dedication to God and His people. He helped to continue the ministry when we faced difficulties, problems, and frustrations. He was an example of Christian activity, punctuality, leadership, and care. I would sum up our memories and appreciation with the words of the apostle Paul “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” It could be fairly applied to our dear Brother and Pastor David!
Space simply doesn’t allow me to cover all the many Christian activities David was involved in. He helped EMF over many years. He started three different Christian publishing houses in the Ukraine, Germany and Spain, guiding them in their setup and finance. They are all going strong and each of them have produced hundreds of different books. Recently with the help of our dear sister Ksusha, David arranged very large scale translations and publishing of both Life Explored and The Word 121 into the Ukrainian language. she writes ” David’s dream was to pass the torch to the new generation, he always valued the time, he knew that this was one of his final chapters. David preached a lot of evangelistic sermons, sharing the message of Hope and Love, his favourite illustration was the Royal Gates, how amazing it would be in Heaven with Jesus Christ for those who believe in Him, and how sad it would be to be found on the other side of the gates. With the help of the Word121 and the Christianity Explored we are able to train local Churches to do effectively the evangelism and follow up programs with a total of over 50,000 books printed. The opportunities are mind boggling, Ukraine needs Jesus today as never before. I would say that David was willing to “build a way” to the neediest, you can’t even imagine how bad Ukrainian roads are in the regions, but he was willing to go by potholed roads in order to build a bridge to the broken, searching hearts so that Jesus Christ could walk over it and stay forever as their Lord. David was the best “eternity focused project manager” you could imagine, we miss him a lot. The torch that he passed will continue to shine bright in Ukraine. “
Apart from Ukraine perhaps David’s most important contribution was to found and lead two “sister” organisations – PTI and CBW. David was originally approached by people who wanted to help train pastors in the majority world. David “fathered” the idea forward to birth as a new charity PTI in 2002, using a mixture of business people and pastors to get the new charity operational. David was the chairman and provided inspirational leadership. It, now under the leadership of Simon Percy, provides training throughout the majority world. Simon comments “I, like many others, was struck by his father-like approach and am very much indebted to David for his support, encouragement and boundless enthusiasm.”
As PTI grew the demands for books grew so in a similar way David had a second “child”- CBW, with the other “midwife” being Mike Taylor. David was also chairman of CBW and again humanly speaking with his godly wisdom and drive this also flourished. From his love of reformed evangelical literature David had a passion to give poor pastors overseas the treasures from which we benefit. (His passion extended to his hobby to buy rare volumes and first editions. He had his library at Dunsfold built with double depth, so he could make it look as if he had got rid of half his library.) His passion and strong sense of professionalism made him insist on translations being edited and checked after translation. CBW was able under his direction to extend into over 30 countries with simple books made available freely to untrained pastors in their heart language. Added to this work was the distribution of second-hand English books obtained from retiring or promoted to glory pastors here in the UK. The number of books distributed by these means has nearly reached 700,000. David’s own library has been donated to CBW for distribution or sale. He was also fully behind the recent major efforts of CBW to develop ebooks and I’m sad that he never saw its full implementation.
One could see he loved books when visiting his home, as his desk and coffee table were always stacked with volumes he was re-reading or hoping to read. Through his brothers in law Mervyn and Ian Barter, David had great contacts at the Banner of Truth and other Christian publishing houses and he was so grateful (as am I) for all the publishers’ ongoing support for the majority world.
David was as well as a preacher and Christian entrepreneur a larger than life character. He loved motor racing and was fascinated by not only cars, but also by tanks and aircraft engines. His family had a motor yard where PTI started. Tanks would be hired out (working or not) to many war films. David loved driving and buying vintage cars. He noted recently with chagrin that he could have bought a vintage Rolls 40 years ago and only failed as he lacked £100 to close the deal, the car recently sold for over £1m. He even sold a Merlin aircraft engine to a friend who put it into his Rolls Royce. As with Christian matters David’s enthusiasm was infectious. A friend of David’s turned up late on a summer evening when his son Julian was about 7 in a powerful sports car. David woke Julian up from his bed (to Marion’s displeasure) to take him out for a spin, thus giving Julian a lifelong taste for speed!
What was David like? For many including me he was like a second father. He was says Mike Taylor “Steadfast and righteous in the best sense of the word…he loved the Bible which pervaded his life and which he used as a principle for everything. Everything had to be thoroughly and efficiently done..a man of the highest integrity.“
David was for me always so encouraging and supportive and always getting alongside people to listen to them and help them achieve more than they realised they could. David was in appearance the epitome of an English gentleman: always very smartly dressed in a dapper suit and armed with his trademark bow tie. Something that as with my father no doubt helped in encounters with bemused Soviet era officialdom who were surprised to find these eccentric immaculately dressed English gentleman wandering around the USSR!
David like his Lord was full of kindness and compassion, especially for those at the bottom of the pecking order. He was for example passionate about helping the Roma community throughout Eastern Europe, as well as in the UK. He was also wise and a peace maker. Sometimes Christians can be very annoying, self righteous and opinionated (though f course I am very agreeable, humble and biddable!) and David was so good and wise at pouring oil on troubled waters.
We mourn with David’s dear family: we are very grateful for all that with God’s help we experienced from him: We look forward to seeing him again. “Jesus said I am the resurrection and I am the life”