“I was once blind but now I see”
Brent Noebel, the son of Dr. David & Alice Noebel, went to be with the Lord on Thursday, July 18th 2002.
We grieve for the loss of a beloved friend. But by God’s grace, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. In fact, at about the very time that Brent was passing into eternity, at 10:00pm our time here in Cape Town, on Thursday, July 18th at the Great Commission Camp, we all stood to sing Amazing Grace. I can never sing Amazing Grace without thinking of Brent and his love for that great Hymn. The staff, who were left at our office, sang it the next morning – Friday morning – without knowing that Brent would be singing that himself in the presence of the Lord at that time.
Brent was a good friend and a great inspiration.
I frequently commented to him that he was probably one of the most important aspects of the great Summit curriculum, a living testimony of perseverance and endurance, under terribly adverse circumstances. A great challenge to the many youngsters who came from mostly comfortable, healthy and privileged backgrounds. Who can estimate how many thousands of lives were deeply impacted for Christ and His Kingdom by Brent’s steadfast witness and work.
Although blind for the last 21 years, Brent’s vision for the suffering Christians in Sudan managed to mobilise the Summit students to become the greatest single sponsor of Bibles for Sudan and film evangelism in Sudan.
I first had the privilege of meeting Dr. David Noebel in November 1989 in Cape Town. I had just been released from prison in Mozambique, and David Noebel invited me to visit the Summit. This I had the privilege of doing from 1990 on. From the beginning, it was a joy and a challenge to know Brent. His probing mind challenged me with many questions, some of which I had never considered before. I remember being amazed at how he would direct us across Colorado Springs, describing in detail what we should be able to see at each turning. I also remember people coming to Brent and asking him for directions or how to spell certain words! We even went to the shooting range together. Brent didn’t let being blind stop him from doing challenging things.
I always enjoyed going to the Summit, and was deeply challenged by their Biblical Worldview Leadership Training programme, to do the same in our fields of ministry in Africa. And so, from 1990, we started to conduct Biblical Worldview Seminars in South Africa, Zambia and throughout Africa. >From 1997, we began conducting Summit Youth Leadership Training programmes in South Africa as well. However, I never expected to obtain support from the young people attending Summit. I went every year with the desire to have an impact in the young people’s lives and to communicate to them the reality of what was happening in Africa. To speak up for the persecuted Church and to challenge them to a Missionary vision and an understanding of the dangers of the New World Order, Communism and Islam.
When Brent began his Sudan Project in 1998, I was staggered by the generosity and sacrificial giving of so many of the students and staff. Frontline Fellowship is a small, indigenous African mission. In all our 20 years of seeking to serve the suffering and to work for Reformation and Revival in Africa, we have never experienced such overwhelming support from any one area before. The Summit students and staff became the largest supporters of Frontline Fellowship, and the main sponsors of Bibles and film evangelism equipment for Sudan. It is been my great privilege to be able to be their representative, delivering and distributing tens of thousands of Bibles and New Testaments throughout Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains, screening the Jesus film in the local languages, sometimes to thousands of people at a time, training and entrusting God’s Story VCD audio-visual evangelism kits to pastors and chaplains, and entrusting pastors, teachers and chaplains with Christian flags and lapel crosses, that Brent had personally sponsored.
By God’s grace, there are today many tens of thousands of South Sudanese, who have seen and heard the Gospel graphically portrayed through the Jesus film and/or through the God’s Story VCD presentations, and many tens of thousands who have received copies of the Scriptures because of the vision of Brent Noebel and the sacrificial love and generosity of students and staff of Summit Ministries.
Christian flags from Summit Ministries are flying from one side of Southern Sudan to the other, and also in the Nuba Mountains. This is the kind of tribute and legacy, which Brent deserves. By God’s grace, I am sure by now he has already met some of the Sudanese Christians in Heaven, who are there now because of God’s gracious workings through his humble prayers and efforts.
The last time I saw Brent in May, when we parted, he said: “See you in Heaven, Peter Hammond.” There have been many times in the last few years when I thought that I would have got there before him, but while we are grieving the loss of a dear friend and Christian brother, we can rejoice that Brent is celebrating with full health and sight in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“And when this flesh and heart shall fail
and mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil,
a life of joy and peace.”