By Fred E. Pollock
Life on this earth ended for brother B.G. Hope on March 8. The funeral was conducted on March 10 in Glasgow, Kentucky, where he and sister Hope had lived since 1976. Robert Welch, Earl Robertson, Roy Cogdill and John Gardner combined their efforts in Scripture reading, prayers and words of edification and encouragement most appropriately rendered. Two of brother Hope’s granddaughters and their husbands sang, through tears, some of the favorites he had loved when his family gathered around him through the years.
Most of nearly 63 years as a Christian were spent preaching the gospel. Until 1941, he also taught for many years in public schools. Like all soldiers of the cross, he enjoyed a remarkable combination of the richest and saddest of earthly experiences, coming as the results of his labors shown in the lives of others (1 Cor. 3:15). He felt keenly both the joys and sorrows expressed by the apostle Paul with respect to those who were the fruits of the gospel through his teaching.
I make no claim to total objectivity in writing of this man, as he was not only my older brother in Christ but, for nearly 35 years, my second father on earth – a relationship expressed this way because “father-in-law” seems so inadequate to describe our relationship. Yet, I understand fully how others without our earthly family tie share my feeling of closeness to this humble, courageous servant of God.
Like many before him, he was a faithful preacher of the gospel about whose work much good can be said. What may be most beneficial for us to remember, however, are some of the very personal attributes left behind in our memories for our consideration and adoption.
He was a man who tried to draw close to every soul, whether rich or poor, young or old, friend or enemy. The mention of enemies may seem strange in this article, but it is appropriate to remember that he had them and how he behaved toward them. Every soldier has enemies, but the Christian will be an enemy to no man. My purpose is not to render a judgment that he was always right and they were always wrong. God is his judge and theirs. Instead, we can be edified by remembering his attitude toward his enemies. Most of us think we have obeyed Christ if we refrain from doing evil to our enemies. At least we act that way. Dad Hope understood that love for our enemies means going beyond this to love their souls as if they were our friends and showing it. His ability to show this love while standing staunchly against the error or other evil in their teaching or lives will be an encouragement to me and a host of others throughout our lives.
One of our finest legacies from B.G. Hope is his example of unwavering faith and perseverance in adversity. This adversity came as a result of physical afflictions and accidents throughout his adult life. In 1973, Dick Blackford wrote the following:
I remember Monday mornings in Bowling Green how he would be busy phoning those who were absent on Sunday to encourage those who were physically sick or spiritually weak. His right hand is drawn by arthritis, but he has done more with that one crooked finger than most of us do with two good hands in a lifetime. He walks with a limp, but it is a mark of determination rather than an excuse. Sometimes he has voice problems but his love for the truth and the souls of men causes him to plow on.
This continued to be true of him right to the end of his preaching activity near the close of 1979. We would watch in loving concern and admiration every time he resolutely mounted the pulpit. The agony of this physical effort became more apparent with time, but for many years he managed to hide it with his good-natured, “I’m doing all right,” followed immediately by his expression of genuine interest in the well-being of others. Only his quiet, weeping prayer in the middle of a sleepless night told his loved ones a little of what he endured through 25 years of rheumatoid arthritis.
The disappointments of his life were not those of unachieved wealth or of unfulfilled dreams of personal fame, but of souls lost in spite of his best efforts and prayers. The hope for a sick spirit to become whole continued to flame within him when others of us who were weaker would give up in discouragement, or worse, disgust. I truly believe souls will yet be saved as the direct result of his loving, confident persistence while he was with them. This must be a scriptural hope, according to Hebrews 11:4 (“. . . he being dead yet speaketh”).
The final attribute I wish to remember is his oft-stated, “I want to go to heaven when I die.” He kept this one great hope in mind more than anyone I have ever known: He knew his responsibility to share this hope through the preaching of truth; and he knew his responsibility to serve Christ by serving His. I believe this is why we so often sang with him the last song used in his funeral service:
To love someone more dearly every day,
To help a wand’ring child to find his way,
To ponder o’er a noble thought and pray,
And smile when evening falls,
And smile when evening falls,
This is my task.
To follow truth as blind men long for light,
To do my best from dawn of day till night,
To keep my heart fit for His Holy sight,
And answer when He calls,
And answer when He calls,
This is my task.
And then my Saviour by and by to meet,
When faith hath made her task on earth complete,
And lay my homage at the Master’s feet,
Within the jasper walls,
Within the jasper walls,
This crowns my task.
We sorrow over Dad’s leaving us, but rejoice in the hope of the reward laid up for faithful servants. We further rejoice that his faithful wife and our mother can continue with us as a living reminder of the good works, faithful service, and loving concern for others in which she shared with him for over 57 years. We will the more often be made to recall, “I want to go to `heb-n’ when I die”, with the words he so often added, “Don’t you?” Truly, “. . . he being dead yet speaketh.” We loved him.
What Others Have Said
After the passing of brother B.G. Hope, I noticed several bulletins which carried the announcement of his death. I set these aside awaiting this tribute to brother Hope. Here are brief comments regarding his work made by several different preachers:
Tom Wheeler (Tom followed brother Hope in the work at Beaver Dam, Kentucky. He was in a position to know the influence of brother Hope in that area.):
March 10, 1980 the remains of B.G. Hope were laid beneath the sod. His influence will not pass as quickly as his life did. I will not comment at length on brother Hope as I met him only a few times and heard him preach only twice that I remember. Much of what I know about him I know from what I see and hear from, and in, others.
He is spoken of frequently as being a real Southern gentleman. I suppose if he had lived North of the line, people would have called him a Northern gentleman. He was also a dignified man, not vain, dignified. He was dedicated to the Lord, the Lord’s family and his earthly family. His preaching (what I heard) was plain, simple and persuasive. In addition to writing many letters to keep and strengthen friendships, he wrote many letters to help and encourage those within the congregation where he labored. In doing located work he apparently went far beyond the call of duty.
He worked with the church here at Beaver Dam for eight years and one week. There is no way to measure his influence on the Christians here and that influence continues to live. He was loved dearly and is sorely missed by many here.
To his faithful companion, Lena, and the rest of the family we express sincerest sympathy. We must press on toward that heavenly prize with one less of God’s servants to encourage us.
Leslie E. Sloan, The Preston Reporter (26 March 1980):
1 know of very few men who have so touched and influenced lives as did B.G. Hope. His life was indeed an inspiration and a powerful influence for good, and his influence will live on in the lives of many after he is forgotten. He leaves behind a legacy of far more value than silver or gold. Brother Hope, being of humble means, and living the most of. his life on the salary of a preacher, did not amass very much of this world’s goods.
However, this did not seem to be a concern of his. He contented himself with leaving his children and grandchildren with a priceless legacy of faith.
The Church here at Preston Highway was blessed by having brother Hope here for a gospel meeting in September 1977. We marvelled at the time how he was able to “move around” with such ease and maintain such a wonderful spirit; being afflicted so badly with the arthritis. The lessons each night were powerful, and characterized by a sense of sincere pleading for souls to obey God and have hope. I remember several times he used the expression “he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” He always applied this to himself and expressed it as his personal desire.
He was a friend to both old and young. Many young men sought counsel from his volumes of experience, and were always warmly welcomed.
Dudley Ross Spears, The Voice of West End (15 March 1980), Bowling Green, Kentucky:
The loss of a saint is tremendously heart-breaking. The loss of my dear friend, brother B.G. Hope is a loss shared by so many faithful Christians throughout our nation. Death with its finality and strong reality always leaves me with a feeling of fear, of frustration and of the real fact that, “There’s nothing certain in man’s life but this: that he must lose it.” That frustration and fear is soon dissolved as the comforting words of the Almighty assure me that death is not the end, but the beginning – the loss is only bound up in time.
Our loss is not real with brother Hope. I have not really lost him because the memory of his gentle words, his firm commitment to truth and his delightful personality cannot be lost as long as my mind remains intact. To all who loved him for his “work’s sake” and for his gentle counsel and admonition, there is no loss, except it be for a season.
If there is anything to be gained by his blessed memory it is a lesson from his life. I have preached a number of funeral sermons in my short time as a minister of the Gospel; and have used the text of Romans 8:38-39 frequently to give the bereaved the comfort of knowing that those who are called by God, first to His service, and secondly to His presence in eternity, who love the Lord, have no fears in separation from God’s love. I know of no man who better, at this moment in time, illustrates the close relationship of such a saint with his Maker, than brother Hope.
Brother Hope was a steadfast man to the end of his life. His desire was to preach the Gospel to the very last breath of his life. He was not permitted to do so, entirely, due to failing health, over which he had no control – but he was a preacher from first to last. To hear him preach the simple story of the Lowly Jesus of Nazareth was a thrill – not because of his flowery eloquence but because of his sincerity and honesty with the word. It will be missed sorely.
We bid farewell to a fine friend, a nice human being and a devoted man of God with the full assurance that his works do follow him. His works blazed a trail over lands of faith and duty and we do well to follow him, as he followed Christ.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 21, pp. 342-344
May 22, 1980