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Johnny Farese, absent from the body, present with the Lord.

farese (2)From some comments on Facebook that I’m leaving anonymous:

Some of you will know Johnny Farese, a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church for years. Johnny was born disabled, and for over a decade was unable to sit up, feed himself, and had difficulty breathing. In spite of that, Johnny ran the incredibly useful global “Reformed Baptist Church Directory”, and his [Farese] mailing list served as a clearinghouse of RB news for years.

 

We tuned into the Emmanuel Baptist Church evening service tonight [March 9, 2014], and learned that Jesus has called Johnny Farese to come home and be with Him…

Another summed up his life:

Johnny Farese was entirely paralyzed. About the only things he could move were his eyes and mouth, yet still managed to circulate the prayer requests between the Reformed Baptist churches around the United States. He was a prolific website programmer and coded HTML using a microphone. See his website, www.farese.com. Farese’s condition never became a way to excuse himself from kingdom work…

Here is the testimony he had on his site:

I came into this world on 27 August 1956, the second of Vincent and Joan Farese’s seven children.  My older brother Bernie was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a severely crippling disease that meant that he was never able to walk.  So was I  – and a younger sister Tina.   In each case, the doctors told my parents that the child concerned would not live beyond its eighth birthday. Tina died of pneumonia when she was four years old…

 

Like most new Christians, I found myself full of zeal.  I wanted to be baptized, join a Bible-believing church, and do whatever I could to serve others. I remembered Jesus had said that he ‘did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:28) and that ‘no servant is greater than his master’ (John 13:16).  Being bedridden, I was not sure that I could contribute anything to others, but by the grace of God I am able to be of energetic service in ways far beyond anything I had imagined.

 

fareseIn light of my physical condition, I am often asked the age-old question, ‘How can an all-powerful God of love allow you to suffer in this way?  Surely the Bible says that God always does what is right?     Yes it does – and he does!   I have come to see that suffering is one of the many ways in which God demonstrates his unfailing love to those who have come to put their trust in him.   Writing out of his own painful experience, the Psalmist says, ‘It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees’ (Psalm 119:71) – and I gladly endorse every word of that testimony…

 

Although I am bedridden,  struggle to breathe comfortably, and often have to contend with painful bed sores, I count them as ‘light and momentary troubles’ (2 Corinthians 4:17)  For all the difficulties they cause, I know that they are achieving for me ‘an eternal glory that far outweighs them all’ (2 Corinthians 4:17)  How trivial they will all seem in the light of the eternal bliss that awaits God’s children in the world to come!

Read his testimony [9 min. readout]

In this video Johnny Farese shares his testimony of God’s sovereign saving grace in his life and how God’s sovereignty is a comfort to him. From nationally syndicated television show produced by CrossTV.:

[HT: Reformed Baptist Fellowship]

And here he and his family share more about his disability and speak about the sanctity of life and the atrocities of abortion around the world on Dr. D. James Kennedy “The Coral Ridge Hour”:


Iron Sharpens Iron Radio interview with his pastor filling in for him from June 2009:

…Johnny was incredibly useful to his local church and the global church, even with a body that was nearly completely incapacitated. His life is a rebuke to me, but a testament to God’s incredible power in giving a man the ability to overcome crushing weakness, and fill him with a spirit of love and service rather than bitterness and regret.

 

I am glad that Johnny’s days of weakness are over, and his days of unending strength are just starting.

From the comments I am seeing on Facebook it is clear to see that he was an inspiration to many believers. Maybe including you? How did his life (which he would say was of God’s grace and all for God’s glory) inspire you?

Update March 13, 2014: His pastor’s [Jeffery Smith] post on his passing:

The memorial service for Johnny Farese has been scheduled for Friday, March 28th at 7pm at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Coconut Creek Fl. This is open to the general public.  A private graveside service will be held for the immediate family this Friday.

  • Though I never knew him personally, I’ve benefited for many years from his website work. Oh, that I would too receive the harder providences of our Lord with such joy.

    I can’t stop crying when I read this from his testimony page:

    “Although I am bedridden, struggle to breathe comfortably, and often have to contend with painful bed sores, I count them as ‘light and momentary troubles’ (2 Corinthians 4:17) For all the difficulties they cause, I know that they are achieving for me ‘an eternal glory that far outweighs them all’ (2 Corinthians 4:17) How trivial they will all seem in the light of the eternal bliss that awaits God’s children in the world to come!”

    I am sure now he is saying how trivial they WERE now that he is in presence of the Lord! He loved his Lord on this earth, and now loves him in a greater way with unsinning heart! “O that day when freed from sinning, I shall see Thy lovely face”!

  • Johnny’s impact on the Reformed Baptist movement will probably never be properly calculated. When we were in the early years of starting a Reformed Baptist church in Milwaukee, probably half of the visitors we saw found us through the Farese List. For a startup work with limited means to make ourselves visible, his help from afar was a blessing from God. I have often wondered in how many places that blessing was duplicated.

  • Ian Clary

    Thank you for posting this wonderful tribute. I think all of us have been moved by his ministry. I had contact with him over the years, and was deeply encouraged by his faithfulness to the gospel and the kingdom of God. I can’t wait to see him in the eschaton!

  • Martin Rizley

    Praise God for his goodness to Johnny Farese! I never had the privilege of meeting this brother face to face, but how deeply moving and inspiring was his testimony to the Lordship, sovereignty, and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. How he longed to go home to be with His Lord, and how gracious the Lord has been to answer his prayer! I am so thankful to the Lord for answering the prayers offered on behalf of this dear child of His– thankful for Johnny himself, who has now been set free from the prolonged suffering he endured, and thankful for the way his radiant witness touched so many lives.

  • shanea7

    He was a kind and encouraging brother, a servant of Jesus! What a joy to know he is in the presence of the Savior who loved him and sustained him!

    Let’s all press on in the service of Christ wherever he has us and remember the faithful example many have left for us…

  • nickeroo1

    I believe all of us would agree that Johnny was a very special person to have helped us all in so many ways. I was always amazed to see what he had done being as handicapped as he was. What a phenomenal legacy he left us all. Though we are saddened at his passing, never-the-less, praise the Lord that at long last he is with the Lord.

  • Brian Moore

    Through the blessings of technology Johnny was able to enter the lives of so many, those who know Christ and those who do not. His entire being belonged to the Lord and was evidenced by his diligent service to Him. How great is our God for giving us a way to know Johnny and to see the fruit of his humble service. Home now with the Lord, what a sight it must be for our dear brother!

  • paul

    What an amazing salvation has been wrought by our God, to transform the heart in such a way – by His love, by His grace, by His sacrifice, by His faithful obedience to the Law, by His goodness and mercy that a man like Johnny all twisted and crippled and in pain was able to Rejoice and be thankful and serve this Awesome God with Joy and Hope, What an amazing salvation has been wrought by our God!!!

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