This morning I got news from Charlie Chi that our dear friend John Barilla, who just had Covid a week ago, has gone to be with the Lord. I called him immediately and wept. John Barilla is a man with strong scriptural conviction, been a pastor before, and he has a MDiv, and gone through a lot in life. Above all, he is a child of God in Christ Jesus and a good friend of mine and many folks in LIALC church.
He has been really God’s Providence to Me & My Calling for Ministry
John has been such a dear friend to me, and in some strange way, he spent the last six months of his life in my first six months in LIALC church. If it were not for John’s constant feedback, interaction, review, comments unto my preaching, theology, my blogs, and tiktoks with encouragements and feedback, and helpful guidance into ministry in LIALC church, I don’t think I would be the interim pastor for LIALC English today. It’s like as if the Lord has set it up for us to cross our paths, in this time. And let me say this, all these will not be in vain. Whatever the Lord started, it’s him who started it, He will finish it with GLORY!
Philippians 1: 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
John has played an absolutely crucial part in God’s arrangement and set up and timing to make this happen. I have only known him for six months, but I felt like I have known him for six years! I am always looking forward to his feedback on my tiktoks, my blogs. He not only affirmed me and encouraged me, but he also rebuked me a couple times over theology and worshipping song.
Today, all these is gone! But today, we all know he has joined the heavenly hosts in the balm of our Lord Jesus Christ and heavenly Father. While he debated me regarding the millennium rule of Christ on earth vs my covenant theology, I told him that I will be writing a response on why Covenant Theology is the right way over the Millennium rule belief. But today, that’s all gone. I would love to show him when we meet in heaven.
I can’t thank God enough for John, who has been a trusted friend, and many times, coaching me with the dynamics of the local church and also with his review of my theology and his encouragement.
John’s Emailed me Warmly to Encourage me to Welcome me before my 1st Preaching in LIALC (May 2021)
His writing is first class, in his many emails exchange with me, he writes much better than me. When I started preaching in LIALC (Long Island Abundant Life Church) in May 2021, he was the first one who welcomed me in his warm email, even before I got there.
Greetings Al….Charlie Chi informed me that you were coming to LIALC this Sunday to preach and I just wanted to personally welcome you. This week I spent some time reading your blog posts and listening to some of your You Tube videos and I found myself very much in agreement with the emphases of your ministry. In reviewing your posts, I noticed that you have a vision for combining the strengths of Reformed doctrine with the charismatic openness to the work of the Holy Spirit. I agree that they actually complement one another and I affirm the importance of preaching the “full gospel”. So I just want to encourage you and let you know that you have a kindred spirit in the congregation, and I am looking forward sitting under your ministry of the word on Sunday. blessings: john barilla. 5/12
Such warm email from John day one even before my first preaching assignment in LIALC, I was warmly encouraged.
He has always joined our prayer meetings; he leads worship with Charlie and Johnny on Sundays. I have asked why he didn’t choose the path of becoming a pastor with his pastoral heart and his MDiv? John has confessed his personal constraints and in fact he had pastored and planted a church before in Long Island.
Theology of Calling & Finishing the Race
One thing I do notice as my wife has said, is John often prayed for Jesus to come soon. He is always looking toward the eschatological age when Jesus returns as the King to wrap up the world. Greatly burdened to fight against persecutions in laws, etc., he often brings them up in prayers with us.
Now come to the hard theological part. Why did the Lord take him away, seemingly such a premature timing? He wanted to write worship songs, and he had a bunch of them, I am hoping Charlie and Johnny will go ahead to publish them, sing them in our church.
We know that the Lord knows better. He is the sovereign God, He gives, and He takes away. I wonder whether the timing of this is in God’s will. I for one definitely doubt that from human point of view, but the Lord in His divine eyes have seen it differently. I have to believe the Lord has called him to do the things He has called him. And that’s blessed many people in LIALC. I am one of the most obvious recipients of John’s ministry. John has given me a few books to read to encourage my ministry, my thinking theologically and philosophically, and I remembered the first time he gave me a book, he told me that the Lord has given him a ministry of blessing others. So he insisted on blessing me, and that’s like after my second preaching there in LIALC! And not only once, but a few times. I got to know recently that he has been driving a school bus, and financially somewhat tight and yet he bought books for me.
Let us Run with Perseverance the Race Marked out for Us
Hebrews 12: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
John had run the race God marked out for him. Overcoming obstacles, family life, financial life, ministry life, he was used by God in so many ways, and we all say, “Thank you Lord for our friend”.
I will miss him in church. He will be greatly missed in LIALC and other friends from other churches in Long Island.
John 11 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
We will all meet in heaven. Amen.