Radio Leicester Thought for the Day


John Denney 20 January 2003


Yesterday at Poynton Baptist Church, there were two memorial services for Detective Constable Stephen Oake, who was killed on duty last week during an anti-terrorist enquiry sanctioned at the highest level of authority. One service was for the public, and one for the church community itself. For Stephen Oake was an active member of that church, serving as a member of its governing body and as a lay preacher in the surrounding area.


The services sought to bring the shock of Stephen Oake’s sudden death and lay it before the God of all comfort. They were also to mark the life of a man of integrity, to pay him tribute and also to thank God for his life. Stephen’s parents, and his widow and children, committed Christians all, will have taken great consolation, not only in the support of their church, but of all churches who yesterday prayed for the family. Stephen’s widow Lesley said they had been overwhelmed by messages of support from the public, from the Prime Minister, and from the Queen. Their greatest consolation, though, is the assurance, the Christian hope, that Stephen Oake rests in the loving arms of his Saviour, Jesus, where one day they will join him.


I was struck by two statements made by those most closely affected by Stephen’s death. First, his father, a former Chief Constable of the Isle of Man, said that he has been praying for God’s forgiveness for the person who killed Stephen. That takes a real, solid Christian faith. To seek forgiveness for the killer of your child is something I can hardly imagine possible. Yet that is Stephen’s father’s prayer. And of course it is what Jesus asked for the Roman executioners as He was dying on the cross. “Father forgive them,” He said, “They don’t know what they’re doing.” That must have been hard for our heavenly Father, but I have no doubt that those rough soldiers were forgiven at that instant.


The second thing was said by Lesley Oake, as she spoke about her husband. “Steve and I,” she said, “Told each other every day that we loved each other”. And Lesley Oake urged all married couples to do the same. Isn’t that good advice? Have you told your husband or your wife that you love him or her today? If you’re still at home, why not do it right now? Or, as soon as you can, make a phone call to express your love. For as St Paul said, “Three things last: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” Just the three things that Stephen Oake epitomised.


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