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John Hancock (1936-2017)

January 2018 | by Graham Wheeler

The church on earth has lost a Christ-like servant in the death of John Hancock.

John was saved through the joyful life and testimony of some fellow national service soldiers, with whom he went to a SASRA meeting and heard the gospel. This great liberating and saving experience helped him move on from a difficult childhood, during which his only brother died.

He was called to serve his new Lord. Out of gratitude, he gladly obeyed and spent his whole life preaching the same glorious gospel of grace and forgiveness, through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He served full-time for most of his adult life in just two places: Japan and Northampton. The trials of learning Japanese were not lost in England. A Japanese lady was converted and baptised in Wolverton. He and Ann, whom he married in 1968, translated the baptismal service into Japanese.

John was invited by a small group of believers to establish a church in Northampton’s new and growing Eastern District. Meetings began in their home. As the church grew, they moved to local community centres. At times this was challenging, as local young people delighted in causing considerable disruption.

Having come to an understanding of the glorious doctrines of grace while in Japan, John loved his Lord more and attended the Banner of Truth ministers’ conference at Leicester, where these truths and their outworkings were declared. Next to the ministry of the Word, he greatly appreciated the fellowship of this annual conference.

John was a warm and gracious encourager and giver. He delighted to encourage the use of the talents of others. He counselled as one who, as an under-shepherd, understood his flock, coming alongside them in their hardships and joys.

His retirement in 2002 and subsequent move to Wiltshire did not mean an end of his preaching; his ministry was appreciated in several local churches. He will be missed by many who have benefitted from his wise and helpful expositions of God’s Word. He leaves his dear wife Ann, two daughters and nine grandchildren.

Graham Wheeler