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A Tribute to Shirley Hubbard

Shirley Hubbard
Joe Neighbors, Shirley's 1st Grandson
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9kBlCQ  qhroucwtsozwXSscOQ  giwqzraqrfzdI don’t know how to describe the depth and bredath of influence that Rich had on my life, and these few words cannot even scratch the surface, but I am unusually fortunate enough to be able to do what God created me to do in this life, and I truly believe that I owe much of this to Rich, to his example, his advice, his guidance and his trust in me.I first met Rich in 1987 when I joined his Powerpoint kids ministry team for the Eurofire 1987 conference held by Reinhard Bonke at the NEC in Birmingham. My best friend Tim and I were introduced to Rich by our youth leader in Worcester, Richard Wood, to play bass and guitar in the worship band and to be part of the ministry team that week. Straight away Rich disarmed me with his confidence, his trust in me and his wicked sense of humour. It was an amazing week where we ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit, seeing miracles take place, seeing kids praying for other kids, and seeing their prayers for healing answered, often dramatically so. And then he told me, a gauche 17 year old, that I was going to lead the children out into the main auditorium on the last day, so that they could sing on the main stage in front of the whole conference. Only this was not your average venue main stage, this was the Birmingham NEC Arena main stage. So there I ended up, dressed as a clown, playing a borrowed 12-string acoustic guitar, fumbling the barre chords and leading our kids singing  Shine Jesus Shine  in front of 6,000 people.Playing in the Powerpoint band (or the Elastic Band as Rich liked to call us) was a thorough apprenticeship in musical flexibility and variety. Rich wrote and recorded kid’s songs in just about every musical style, and so I had to learn to play in just about every musical style. It was really stretching for a young musician and although I routinely fluffed my parts, it never seemed to matter too much   there was such a sense of fun and freedom worshiping and playing together with Rich at the front doing crazy dances with his Ovation guitar round his neck and pulling silly faces. He had an amazing gift of being able to switch from crazy fun and games straight into a thoughtful holy moment without missing a beat.Rich was an outstanding communicator   a natural. It’s one of the reasons why he was so good at children’s ministry. He could sum up complex theology in simple words and illustrations, and he could quickly and efficiently communicate plans, ideas, ministry methods and philosophy to a large team of helpers and get them all working efficiently together. After working hours though, my best memories of working with Rich are the long conversations we would have, where he befriended and pastored this motley band of young Christian students and misfits, helping us make sense of life together with endless sympathy, wisdom and compassion. Of course, if there was any mischief taking place, Rich was often at the centre of it. He could be relied upon to punctuate any serious moments with a one-liner or a witty catchphrase and his outrageously accurate impressions of famous church leaders were carefully designed to puncture any smugness acquired from being in the Spring Harvest limelight.My six years of ministry with Rich were pivotal, formative experiences. He was my friend, leader, mentor and example. He gave me confidence to trust God in any circumstance and to pursue my calling no matter what. He made us all feel loved and accepted for who we were, and he encouraged me in my musical development and to pursue Jesus with everything, wherever he would take me.In the end, after years of leading worship, serving in my Liverpool church, Frontline, it was that calling from God (which came into focus one summer night on a showground in Malvern surrounded by Rich and my Powerpoint friends) that brought us to Egypt where I have been serving full time as a Worship Pastor in an international church in Cairo for the last seven years.The last time I saw Rich was in my living room here in Cairo a few years ago when he was visiting some Arun church friends living and working here. After dinner we sat and talked and told stories about the Powerpoint days, and it was such a privilege to share with him what God had done in my life through Rich and Linda’s ministry and friendship, and to thank him properly at last for pouring out his life in serving and loving others.  I don’t think he had realised just what a huge impact he had had on me, and it was so special just to sit there and reflect together on how, through God’s grace, Rich’s influence on me and the many others like me has been multiplied and poured out into the world.He will be remembered as a wonderful husband and father, a true servant leader and a genuine man of God.
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