• Video (above): David shares about his colleague and dear friend Stan Telchin.
My cell phone rang and I reluctantly stepped out of the hospital maternity room and away from my newborn granddaughter. The call was from Robyn Wilk, who leads our work in Florida. "You need to call Stan Telchin as soon as possible," she urged. "The doctors are saying he may not have more than a week to live."
Stan Telchin is one of the best-known Jewish believers in Jesus of the twentieth century. His story book "Betrayed" sold over a million copies and has been translated into 30 different languages. It's truly been my privilege to know Stan as a friend, and also as a colleague since he joined the staff of Jews for Jesus in 2003.
Stan and I had been scheduled to talk the previous week but he'd not been well enough to take the call. I wondered if I would fare any better, knowing that his health had taken another turn. But I made the call, and Stan's wife Elaine assured me that he was able to talk.
"How are you doing Stan?" I asked.
"You want the truth?" he responded. "I'm doing lousy. I have congestive heart failure. David, I'm not afraid to die," he explained. "There is just so much more I wanted to do to serve the Lord." That last statement was choked out through tears, a mournful cry of genuine regret. It stunned me.
Here was a man whom the Lord had used to lead thousands to faith in Jesus. He had traveled and shared the gospel with millions in ten different countries around the world during more than 30 years of ministry. Yet as he lay dying in a hospital bed, his only regret was that he couldn't have done more for Christ.
Stan and Elaine Telchin, taken on our 2004 Behold Your God Houston campaign
That was Stan. He loved the Lord and he loved to share the good news of Y'shua (Jesus) with others. During his time on staff with Jews for Jesus one of the things Stan loved to do was go on our Behold Your God witnessing campaigns. He would often serve as a chaplain to the young volunteers and missionaries who were going out to stand on the streets to hand out tracts. Stan would teach them the Word, pray with them and encourage them. He even joined them out on the streets in his Jews for Jesus shirt, handing out tracts for as long as his aged body allowed.
Stan was always passionate to demonstrate the love of his Messiah and he did so in a very unique and personable way. His laugh made me laugh. He would open his mouth. His eyes would light up and out would come this high pitched "ha, ha, ha." I've never heard a laugh quite like it before – it was really more of a giggle – but it was always infectious. You couldn't help but smile when Stan laughed. But Stan wasn't laughing now over the phone.
I did my best to comfort him during that phone call. I assured him that God had used him in a wonderful way throughout his life, that he was much loved and appreciated by his Jews for Jesus family and that his life and his legacy were in God's hands. Then we prayed together. My prayer ended and the last word I heard Stan speak was, "Amen."
Elaine called me the next morning. Stan died just a few hours after we spoke on the phone. Shortly after our phone conversation, a close friend had come to the hospital to visit Stan. It seems he had a few good Jewish jokes to tell. Stan so enjoyed the visit; he laughed and laughed until tears were streaming down his cheeks. Then he closed his eyes for the very last time on earth.
We know that when Stan opened his eyes once again he was in the presence of the Lord where there is no more pain or sickness or sorrow. God promises to wipe away every tear from our eyes but I'm not sure that applies to tears of laughter. I have to believe that the halls of heaven today are echoing with that wonderful giggle of my brother Stan, much to the delight of all his friends who were there to welcome him. The Psalmist tells us: Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints (Ps. 116:15). I imagine it isn't the death itself that the Lord finds precious but the welcome He can extend to his children as they enter His very real presence for all of eternity.
I find it strangely compelling how death and life often follow one another so closely. It was certainly precious for me to be able to welcome my granddaughter (the first grandchild) into this world and yet strange that she arrived in such close proximity to my friend Stan's departure. Elaine had a similar experience. Within hours after Stan's passing, she received an email from her granddaughter in Texas. She and her husband had never been able to conceive a child, yet attached to the email was a video of a sonogram taken that very day, echoing the sound of the heartbeat of Elaine's new great grand-child.
New birth is precious to us and The New Birth is so precious that even the angels of God rejoice over it (Luke15:10). Perhaps new birth is the context from which we can best understand why it is that the Lord finds the death of His saints to be precious. Just as a newborn must leave its mother's womb to enter a whole new life, so we leave this mortal life to enter our eternal home. I am quite confident that there was great joy and rejoicing when the Lord said to my friend Stan Telchin, "Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord."