Life Lessons from One of John Stott’s Final Letters

John Stott pictured at his All Soul's home, April 2006. Photo by: Kieran Dodds
John Stott pictured at his All Soul’s home, April 2006. Photo by: Kieran Dodds

This year, Christians throughout the world remember Langham’s founder, John Stott, on the centenary of his birth (April 27, 1921).

This month, we also remember the passing of “Uncle John” 10 years ago (July 27, 2011).

Though I never met “Uncle John,” his impact on my life has been profound. Today he continues to influence me through his writing, his preaching, and his godly example.

A few years ago, someone shared with me a letter that John Stott wrote in the final year of his life. The words of gratitude, wisdom, and hope from a man nearing the end of his life impacted me profoundly. As we remember his passing 10 years ago this month, I want to share three things I have learned from John Stott in one of his final letters.

1. “To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

In his letter, John Stott shows an awareness that his days on earth are nearing an end. And yet he helps us to put this life in perspective as he looks forward with great joy and hope to our life after death: 

“I hope you will allow me to share with you some personal reflections and wishes, as I look forward to the day when the Lord takes me from my earthly pilgrimage to the joy of serving him in all the fullness of resurrection life and vigour.”

John Stott in his study

2. “Give Thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 107:1)

Sometimes, with age, we can become sour or sullen. In contrast, John Stott’s letter is saturated with gratitude and thanksgiving to God. Life is no doubt filled with trials and challenges, but John had eyes to see that the Lord is very much at work by his grace and we are his blessed people. The appropriate response, of course, is thanksgiving!

“It constantly fills me with joy and thanksgiving when I look back more than forty years to the time when, with a group of friends, we founded the Langham Trust in response to the needs that we discerned in the growing churches of what we now call the Majority World… By God’s grace and blessing, the ministries of what is now the Langham Partnership International have grown in amazing ways all over the world.”

3. “I Always Thank God for Your Partnership” (Philippians 1:3)

John Stott had a passion for the work to continue beyond his lifetime. He also knew that this was dependent upon the Lord’s blessing and provision and the generous support of God’s people. These are his own words of thanksgiving to all of you who have given generously, along with an invitation to us to continue partnering with the church around the world:

“It is my heart’s desire and prayer that these ministries will continue long after my death, under God’s blessing and provision and with the prayerful and generous support of God’s people.  If you are already among those who give to and pray for this work, then please accept my sincere personal thanks by way of this letter.  If not – then may I commend this ministry to you as an excellent way to stand in partnership with the global church.”

John Stott’s Personal Legacy Gift for the Global Church

In an act of joyful obedience, John Stott donated all of his royalties to support and train pastors among the global church. This planned legacy gift has equipped thousands of pastors for decades and continues to equip leaders around the world through Langham Partnership to this very day. 

An Invitation to Join John Stott

Since John Stott’s first Legacy Gift to Langham Partnership, many friends like you have joined with “Uncle John” by including Langham in their will, trust, or as a beneficiary in a retirement plan or insurance policy. Would you consider joining this legacy giving family by including Langham in your will or trust? It would be my joy to help you think through the best way to make these plans and to welcome you our “Cross of Christ Legacy Fellowship.” You can learn more at or you can reach me any time by phone (314-488-0256) or email (

Kevin VandenBrink

Kevin VandenBrink, Planned Giving Director for Langham Partnership, is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®) and a member of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners. He is passionate about helping people like you who care about the global church and long to be wise stewards. He also brings to the Langham team many years of engagement in theological education, pastoral ministry, and global missions.

Kevin would love to hear your story, celebrate what the Lord is doing through Langham, and visit with you about the options and benefits of including Langham in your planned giving. Please click here to send an email to Kevin, or call him at (314) 488-0256.