It is with a heavy heart that I write to let you know that our friend and longtime Focus colleague, the Reverend H.B. London Jr., passed away this morning after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was 81. He died at his home in Palm Desert. His beloved wife, Beverley, was at his side, as were other members of the London family.
Our feelings are conflicted because, on the one hand, we rejoice that H.B. is now with our Lord and Savior – experiencing first-hand the indescribable joy of heaven that he has told so many people about during 60+ years of impeccable ministry. On the other hand, H.B.’s passing leaves a uniquely-shaped hole in our hearts, because we have lost a beloved friend and brother.
Very few people have had the wide-ranging impact that H.B. London has exercised. I’ve said many times that there’s virtually no way to calculate H.B.’s contribution to Focus on the Family, to the lives of the clergy families he has served, and to me personally.
A fourth-generation minister, H.B. was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1936. He graduated from Pasadena College (now called Point Loma Nazarene University) and Nazarene Theological Seminary. He married Beverley in August 1957, and they’ve been an inseparable couple for 61 years since! H.B. is also survived by sons Brad and Bryan, their wives, and four deeply loved grandchildren.
H.B. spent 31 years in the pulpit as a local pastor in the Church of the Nazarene, serving congregations in Oregon and California. In 1991, our founder, Dr. James Dobson, invited H.B. (his first cousin) to begin a “second career” and join Focus on the Family here in Colorado Springs to create a “to-be-defined” outreach to clergy families. Within a few months, H.B. was cultivating an unprecedented role as “pastor to pastors” which he has tirelessly filled ever since, even amidst his recent health struggles.
H.B. spent 20 years with our organization, “retiring” in June 2011. But of course, he didn’t actually “retire” – for the past seven years, H.B. has served as Senior Pastor of Friendship Church in Palm Desert, California, while also maintaining a traveling/speaking schedule when possible. Even as his strength has failed, H.B.’s heart for others – and his irrepressibly positive, upbeat, and encouraging spirit – has continued to shine brightly to everyone he encounters. As he said countless times, “God loves you as if you were the only one in all the world to love.”
In one of his most recent “appearances” with Focus, H.B. shared some brief thoughts about his own activities as well as sage advice for those in ministry – I would encourage you to read them.
It seems ironically appropriate that H.B.’s homegoing takes place in October, as this is Clergy Appreciation Month – a movement which he tirelessly championed for many years. He also became well-known through the Pastor to Pastor audio interview series. H.B. authored or co-authored 13 books, several of which are still widely available; they’re filled with insights for anyone involved in vocational ministry.
There’s no doubt that H.B. is hearing those precious words from Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” I hope you’ll join me in praying for Beverley, Brad, Bryan, and the entire London family.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)