In Noel’s passing we’re immensely honoured to be led by him first-hand, and though we’ve lost a stalwart friend we’re glad at his present peace. There have been some good things happening amongst the pain, the Spirit is at work in the lives of some of our future men and women of God and we are gaining momentum in our hearts.
I wrote these words as part of a newsletter report from the Church household Noel Stanton was a part of. Noel was the senior pastor of our Church, the Jesus Army. Today, I seek to explore who he was. Possibly the best way of doing this is to look at what his life produced.
For some forty years, after powerfully receiving the Holy Spirit, he tirelessly led the work of God in turning a tired, reserved, small baptist congregation into a national, colourful (otherwise known as ‘brash’!), and fairly lively brotherhood Church. This brotherhood-sharing aspect (or ‘koinonia’ in the NT Greek) led us out of a new-found love for one another to embark on a shared lifestyle, obeying Jesus’ call to “go, sell all you have” (Mk 10:21-30). Many of us (though not all) live together in houses around the UK. Many also work together, earning money to advance the work we do.
His repeated emphasis on the gospel was that it is especially for ‘the humble poor’. To this end Jesus Centres have been appearing in several cities and towns throughout the UK. These charitable centres daily serve those who’ve seen the worst of life.
Noel was a leader of the rarest kind- a fiery yet compassionate man, enduring grief and success with the same tenacity of vision. He spent his life well.
Speaking to a new friend recently about what we’ve become, I decided we’re a bit like a cross between the Salvation Army, a Charismatic church, and a monastery! What would that be called- ‘The Army of Charismatic Monks’?!
And the photo? That was taken in the back garden of NC Farm, the community house where Noel lived. We were practising for our annual ‘London Day’ gospel event on Trafalgar Square, London. I remember seeing Noel looking out of his window, beaming, glad at the strength of the young men of this Church, brought together and shaped by the Holy Spirit, through him and many others over the years.