March 2024 – Remembering Charles Simpson

March 2024

Remembering Charles Simpson
Dear Friend in Christ:

As many of you know, my father, Pastor Charles Simpson, passed away on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2024. He has joined my mother, Carolyn, and Jesus in eternity. Our family and the CSM Team want to thank all of you for your prayers and kind words of encouragement to us in these days. We have done our best to communicate our love and gratitude to you over these past three months and will continue to do so.

This letter is my initial attempt to pay tribute to his life, to honor the Lord Jesus, and to express to you what we are seeing in the Holy Spirit for the days and years ahead. God willing, there will be many more letters, messages, and events to come where I can say more.

As you can imagine, right now, the memories are coming like a flood. I remember his laughter and stories, his love for our family, his compassion for hurting people, and his deep reverence for the Lord and His Word. I remember the muffled sound of his bedtime prayers for people he loved, coming through his closed bedroom door, oftentimes accompanied by weeping.

Dad loved to take us places and show us the world, whether in another nation or deep in the bayou country of south Louisiana, where he was raised. He was a voracious reader and student of history, so wherever we went, Dad had a sense of the place and what had happened there.

I think now of my Dad as a sun-tanned little boy with hair bleached almost white by the sun, riding in a rowboat with his Daddy down Foster’s Canal on their way to the settlement of Grand Bayou, where Grandpa had planted a church in the early 1930s. Grandpa would regularly drive Dad on the trip south from New Orleans on a winding blacktop road that paralleled the Mississippi River levee, before turning off onto a shell drive that led to the canal’s edge. Then Grandpa would row the boat more than a mile deep into the marshland before arriving in the tiny fishing village. There were no roads to that place; none exist today.

They would be greeted by the Cajun settlers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds who lived in houses on stilts above the water. Some were our relatives. There would be good food, singing, preaching, and prayer, plus some strong dark coffee with chicory and lots of sugar. Then, Grandpa would row the little boat back to the bank of the shell road, and they would drive home, weary, but joyful at what God was doing.

Dad only lived in the Bayou country for his first few years, but it forever shaped him. In the final days of his life here at our home, he was not only surrounded by God’s presence and our family, but also by paintings and photos of bayous, swamps, moss-draped trees, shrimp boats, and little bayou shacks. The testimony of what God did in those days remained with Dad all through his life. When times were tough, when miracles were desperately needed, Dad remembered what the Lord had done among the Cajun people, and it encouraged him to keep going in faith.

My Dad was tough; probably the toughest guy I’ve ever known. We called him “the Chuck Norris of Ministry,” because he could take a punch and keep getting back up. He was relentless. When he believed God had called him to love someone or do something, Dad wouldn’t give up. To reach the people God called Dad to reach, Dad racked up millions of air miles plus countless cross-country road trips, train journeys, and boat voyages. He ministered the Gospel thousands of times, in cathedrals, arenas, small country churches, tents, homes, and bars. Even on airplanes, Dad was always open to listen, share, and pray with any seatmate who wanted to talk.

Dad didn’t own a plane and didn’t travel with an entourage. He usually carried his own luggage and knew how to sprint across an airport or train station. He could tell you where the Buc-ee’s, Stuckey’s, Love’s, and Chevron gas stations were, and more than a few roadside Cracker Barrel restaurants. He didn’t speak many languages besides English, though he did know the Spanish words, “paz” and “tranquilo” (peace and calm).

Before committing his life to ministering, Dad was a boxer, and a good one. He had to decide between going pro and preaching the Gospel. I might add, boxing was an excellent preparation for the ministry! Dad didn’t go looking for fights, but he did face a great deal of spiritual opposition in his life. Dad was tenacious. He was honorable and committed; courageous, not cowardly. He had a shepherd’s heart and was always ready to protect the flock of God from wolves and predators.

Dad cared. He fought for people. His heart was always tender to the outcast, the downcast, the broken, the mourners, the underdogs, and the rejected. He believed that Jesus is a relentless Redeemer and was always willing to go the extra mile with anyone who sought the Lord. He would go after the wayward, or patiently wait for them to come to themselves, embrace them, and welcome them home. If you were in trouble, Charles Simpson was a guy you wanted on your side.

He was generous. Dad gave away most of the money he ever earned or received. He saw people as great investments. When God moved on Dad’s heart to give, Dad never questioned it. He personally supported numerous ministries, missionaries, and churches. He gave to the hungry and the homeless. He invested in young pastors and leaders, giving many resources, platforms, and encouragement as they stepped out and grew in their callings. He gave away cars. He took people into our home to live for however long they needed a place to stay.

I’ll never forget “Brother Hazarakis,” who was a self-described “hobo” who hopped trains and traveled the country. He and Dad became friends, of course. Brother Hazarakis could sing, play the piano, pray, and was full of the Holy Spirit. Dad invited him to stay at our house for a few days. God bless my patient mom! She fed him, cleaned his clothes, and treated him like he was a royal gentleman. He stayed with us whenever his train rolled through Mobile.

Guests were the norm in our house, from the time I was a little kid. Many people of various ethnicities and nationalities stayed with us, ate with us, worshipped with us, laughed with us, and enriched our lives in ways we are still discovering. In Alabama in the 1960s, that was a really big deal. I didn’t know then that some of our white neighbors gave my parents a lot of grief over their hospitality. But I did know that when our guests came to our door, Jesus came with them.

Dad was humble and quick to confess sin and ask forgiveness whenever he wronged someone else. The Holy Spirit would convict Dad’s heart and Dad would do all he could to make things right. Dad hated pride, whether in himself or in those who felt the need to “be a hot dog.” He told me often as a kid–maybe a few times as an adult–“Son, don’t be a hot dog!” Arrogance and bullying were repulsive to him. So was religious performance. He was a preacher’s kid himself, and like most preachers’ kids, Dad had a sharp eye for hypocrisy or showing off.

After responding to the call of God in 1955, Dad began to minister in rescue missions and small home groups–one even started in a bar–before he began pastoring Bayview Heights Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama, in 1957. He had completed his degree at William Carey College and was studying at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, commuting three hours one way to attend classes. By 1963, a baby–you’ll never guess who–was born to Carolyn and Charles and though they were– hopefully–overjoyed by that, there were other pressures in ministry that were beginning to wear Dad down.

He began to seek the Lord in Scripture and in prayer for spiritual renewal that would produce fresh fruit in his own life. This seeking led him to a little storefront church which had been planted by his friend, Pastor Ken Sumrall in a shady part of Pensacola, Florida. In that humble place, Dad was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and his life was never the same. In less than a decade, Dad became a pioneer in what was known as the Charismatic Movement, and spiritual renewal swept across the world.

Many of you know some of that story. My sister was born in 1969 while Dad was ministering in New Zealand. My brother came along in 1972, when we were living in the Miami, Florida, area. Our family has a rich and wonderful heritage. Dad’s life touched far more lives than we will ever know this side of Heaven. Dad’s ministry spanned more than 68 years. He continued to travel and minister, with anointing and vigor, through October 2023. The final message he preached was entitled “Touching the Eternal” at Covenant Life Church (Pastor Chris Hyatt) in the Atlanta area.

By early November 2023, Dad was feeling increasingly tired. He lost his appetite. Other symptoms emerged. We had numerous visits to the doctor and the emergency room. Dad was in and out of hospitals and physical rehabilitation centers. He underwent tests and surgeries. Some days, it seemed his passing was imminent. He was suffering tremendously. Other days, he rallied, and we had hopes for a strong recovery.

The weekend before he passed, we received grim news from his surgeons. But, thank God, we were able to bring him back to our house one more time. My sister, Charlyn, and brother-in-law, Enrique, arrived from Costa Rica. My brother, Jonathan, and his wife, Sarah, and their daughter, Liza, joined my wife, Susanne, daughter, Victoria Grace, and me around Dad’s bed. We had hours together with Dad for fellowship, prayer, singing, Scripture reading, laughing, stories … all things he had hoped would happen. Dad was quite lucid and very full of joy. He blessed each one of us, and we blessed him. It was a holy time.

Jesus took Dad’s hand on Valentine’s night and walked with him into eternal peace. Though we have grieved, we are comforted by our Blessed Hope of eternity together in Christ.

Dad and I have been committed to “Restoring the Generational Bridge.” That mission for CSM will continue. When God called me into ministry 43 years ago, He gave me Psalm 145:4, which says, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”

Recently, our longtime dear friend Pastor Robert Grant reminded me of this prayer: “O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (Psalm 71:17-18).

Would you please pray for us as we move forward in faith? We will share more about where we believe this journey will take us, and who we are called to reach. If the Holy Spirit leads you, please consider a special financial gift to support the work of the ministry this month? Dad loved you all dearly, as do I and the staff here at CSM. It’s an honor to serve you in the Lord. Soon, we’ll have an announcement regarding a celebration of life service for Dad on April 25 here in Mobile. We are so thankful for your friendship and partnership with us as we labor together for Christ’s Kingdom.

Yours in Jesus,
Stephen Simpson

About the Author:

Stephen Simpson

STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.