Remembering Roger Horwood

As of August 14, our dear brother Roger Horwood, formerly the chairman of Jews for Jesus South Africa, is absent from us and present with the Lord. We will greatly miss him.

Jews for Jesus Executive Director David Brickner says,
“The first time I met Roger Horwood, I had been asked to preach in his church. I was immediately struck by his gracious enthusiasm and kindheartedness. When Andrew Barron asked me who might be a good choice for a Bible teacher at our South African board retreat, I thought of Roger—and that is when I really began to understand what a wonderful servant of God he was.

“Roger’s teaching was very straightforward and practical, full-hearted, warm and extremely accessible. We asked him to sit in on the board meeting during that retreat and there was an argument over whether it was appropriate for Jews for Jesus to buy a combi (van) for use by the missionaries. The South Africans were against it, and I argued for it.

“We were at an impasse when Roger reached into his pocket, pulled out a pistol and slammed it down on the boardroom table. ‘How many ministers in the States feel the need to carry one of these around?’ he thundered. Roger explained the nature and level of crime at the time, and how combis were particularly subject to hijacking and theft. We didn’t buy the combi (or firearms, either!). I knew right away that this was a man we wanted for the Jews for Jesus board of directors, and very soon he became our board chairman.

“Very few people have been as committed to caring for the work of Jews for Jesus as Roger Horwood. We will miss him very much. Thank you, Sharon, for sharing your wonderful husband with Jews for Jesus. Blessed be his memory and blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Roger Horwood

Andrew Barron, who, with his wife Laura, pioneered our work in South Africa, recalls,
“I was setting up to speak at a local church in Johannesburg in 1991. I heard a booming voice behind me ask, ‘Is that Andrew Barron?’

“I turned and there was Roger Horwood smiling at me: ‘You are much better looking in person than in your picture!’

“I knew I was going to like him. Roger and I became fast friends. He was very enthusiastic about what Jews for Jesus was doing in South Africa and around the world. He was eager to get involved. When the chairman of the board, Austen Massey, passed away suddenly, we asked Roger to prayerfully consider taking the position. He responded immediately. It was no small job for a man who was already busy pastoring a growing church.

“Roger traveled to the US and Europe several times for board meetings. He spoke in local churches in and around Cape Town on our behalf. He loved the Lord and the gospel. He loved woodworking and was a bit of a celebrity building miniature furniture. He loved diving and sailing. He had grit. He loved his wife Sharon and his kids, Lee-Ann and Tim.

“Cancer took a lot away from him, but he continued to fight. The only time he flew was when he came to Johannesburg for board meetings. Just a couple of months ago he called to say he would not be able to do that. He had to resign from the board. It was a loss to our Jews for Jesus family. Roger was loved and we will miss him.

“May his memory be a blessing—zikhrono livrakha.

Michael Sischy, who heads up our work in South Africa, says,
“Roger was always proud of the work of Jews for Jesus; it brought him much joy to hear of reports and testimonies, both locally and from around the world.

“We always had an open invitation to come and minister at Camps Bay United Church, which Roger pastored, and he always gave us a hearty welcome when we were there.

“Let’s not forget that Roger launched his boat, which he had built with his own hands—what an inspiration to us all!

“Thank you, Roger, and see you dancing with Messiah!”

And from two of Roger’s fellow South Africa board members:
“When I cast my mind back to the many years I served on the board of Jews For Jesus South Africa with Roger, I immediately smile. I’ll always remember Roger as a larger-than-life gentleman. Clearly evident from the first time I met him was his deep and outspoken love for our Lord; his love and respect for the Jewish people and his desire to see them find the Messiah; and his infectious laugh and amazing sense of humor. He is a huge loss, not only to his wonderful wife and family, but also to Jews for Jesus (especially in South Africa), for he was thoroughly committed to the cause of making disciples of all people, with a special focus on the Jewish people.”
—Liz Block

“I think of Roger as an exceptionally energetic and caring person who followed through with his faith from the boardroom to the street. Generous with his time, Roger was wonderfully unashamed of the gospel and of sharing it with all people—and especially with Jewish people. I deeply appreciated his quite unique commitment, so often sidelined in the church, to sharing the love and reality of Jesus with Jewish people. Go well, Roger.”
—Stanley Sher

Last but certainly not least, here is a reflection from Rev. Byron Spradlin, the original chairman of the Jews for Jesus board of directors, who continues to serve with the US board to this day:
“Few people we meet on earth reflect the fullness of Christ. But Roger Horwood is one of them: full of love, wisdom, faith, humor, delight in life, courage, hope and faith…someone who marinated in the life and purposes of Jesus. Every one of us who knew him, I’m sure, has benefitted from his loving us; and every one of us has experienced, through Roger (and his wife, Sharon), the reality and the healing love of God! May we turn to God even more passionately, simply because we know that Roger was one of His choice servants and showed us how life should truly be lived in Him!

“Tears are in my eyes as I savor the love of such a brother, and of God through being loved by such a brother.”

Roger, back row, second from left, with the original 1980s Jews for Jesus South Africa board of directors