It is not often that someone gets to shape the work of Grace Baptist Mission (GBM) through its council and then serves as a missionary, but that was true of Clifford Pond.
Born in Cambridge and growing up in Hertfordshire, Clifford left school at 14. He volunteered for the RAF Medical Corps, serving in Iceland and the Far East. On leave in India, he saw the work of Strict Baptist Mission (later GBM) at first hand and so began an attachment that lasted a lifetime.
He returned home from the RAF to train for ministry and met and married Muriel. He served pastorates in Cransford and Beccles in Suffolk, before a significant ministry in Guildford. He had become convinced of the biblical basis for plural eldership and worked hard to see this established. Years later he published Only servants, a helpful guide to introducing eldership in the local church, that was a great help to many.
The ‘Baptist Radio Crusade’ was a radio ministry run through the 1960s by George and Audrey Windybank, and Mr Pond became involved with programmes for broadcast from the Isle of Man and Puerto Rico, among other places. In 1971 the work was amalgamated into GBM’s radio ministry.
Mr Pond joined GBM’s Council in 1961 and served as president from 1970–74, which were years of change, as workers came back from India and new work became established in Europe.
Philip Grist said, ‘It was during Mr Pond’s time that the importance of the local church came into focus. We had been acting in an unbiblical way. Hours and hours of discussion and debate took place. We were profoundly thankful for Mr Pond’s wise leadership. He was God’s man for that time’.
Mr Pond became a GBM missionary when he and Muriel moved to Abingdon in 1979 to head up the GBM radio team. TWR challenged him to produce evangelistic programmes for Western Europe, and he took up the challenge with vigour. So it was that the Square one programme was born. Gathering a team that included Ivan Stringer and Ian Densham, Mr Pond based his thinking on Acts 17, where Paul presented the gospel to a pagan city.
In retirement, he wrote several books and was mentor to many pastors, including myself. He kept his sharp mind to the end, with his ability to ask the pertinent question and think situations through biblically.
He had a deep love for so many churches, and kept many of us from foolish and headstrong mistakes. When he moved into Finborough Court, former missionary Wilfred Kuhrt’s Bible study group had ceased, because of Wilfred’s failing health, so Mr Pond restarted it. Clifford was called into the presence of his Lord on 6 March.
This obituary is used with permission of GBM Herald