Remembering Rev. Dr. Darryl Saffore

Jesus’ famous “Parable of the Talents” is often used in funerals for one memorable phrase– “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The phrase that follows is just as important. After Jesus blesses the servants, he commends their work, “You have been faithful over a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come, share in the joy of the master.” Blessing, work, and joy go together in the life of the believer. Last Tuesday afternoon, Friday evening and Saturday morning, we gathered to remember a good and faithful servant, Darryl Saffore. He spread the joy of the Lord through his work at Northern, Kenya, Lawndale Church, and the Lawndale Community.

As manydarylbig of you know, Rev. Dr. Darryl Saffore suffered an apparent heart attack late Monday evening. The news spread quickly. The Lawndale and Northern communities have equally grieved his loss. Darryl was a living testimony to the power of Christ’s redemption in his life. After battling drug addiction, Dr. Saffore went onto receive a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Northern. He was the Executive Pastor of Lawndale Community Church, Dean of the Africa Pastoral Training Institute, and Trustee of our Seminary. He was a father and husband, and we are especially grieving with his daughter, Dominque, and his wife, Julie.

I first met Darryl in January when I was a candidate for President of Northern. He gave me a tour of Lawndale “Darryl style”: dodging traffic, speaking to every person in the Lawndale Health Center by name, and finishing off a Lou Malnati’s pizza. He was as concerned about my wife Kelly and the boys as he was about me. His ever-present smile and effusive spirit made me believe in my call to Northern. I learned how important Darryl was to Northern in my brief time. On our advancement committee, he called alumni to invite them to give and recruited students to our D. Min. and M. Div. programs. He was at our trustee board meeting last weekend, and he sat on the second row at our commencement ceremony. He hugged graduates and encouraged everyone.

On Saturday, I had the chance to hear multiple tributes to Darryl’s life at his home going service. Dr. Claude Mariottini spoke on behalf of the seminary and paid tribute to Darryl’s work ethic: “He worked hard because I gave him a hard time.” Darryl had just recently completed another Hebrew course to prepare to apply to a Ph.D. program.  A multi-talented artist, Darryl’s nickname was “Keys.” He preached from the piano as easily as the pulpit. Chelsea Johnson said, “He modeled joy in his life and showed [people] who Jesus was… he was “love unlimited.” His sister, Sheryl Collins, said “He truly made us all feel loved.”

Dr. Wayne “Coach” Gordon, Darryl’s Pastor and Affiliate Professor of Urban Ministry at Northern Seminary, preached the Gospel. Using the passage that Darryl preached Sunday, June 12, from Psalm 116, Coach reminded us of Darryl’s impact personally and professionally. He challenged us that our God is the God of the 100th chance and never gives up on us. As Darryl would tell us, it’s never too late to give your life to Jesus.

Many more gave testimony, sang, and worshiped; and it would not be possible to repeat everything that happened. Northern Seminary provided the meal for the family after the service. A scholarship fund has been set up at Lawndale Church in Darryl’s memory, and I hope you will honor his memory by contributing to this fund.

On Saturday, we gathered as a church, seminary, and community to say, “Well done.” We left committed to the kind of work that Darryl showed us how to do. This is the work that accompanies eternal joy.

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