Oswald Chambers said we experience life "in the haphazard." As I write this, the death just days ago of our dear colleague Clayton Bell hits us as indeed "haphazard."A month ago we flew to Dallas to confer with Clayton about major changes in CTi. As usual he gave wise counsel and hearty encouragement. At our board meeting a few weeks later, we adjusted our corporate name to Christianity Today International. We looked forward to working with Clayton on new strategies to help Christian leaders worldwide. Now we grieve for Clayton's family and we adjust to another sharp turn in the road. God has his own plans and timetable.Sometimes life has an odd symmetry. Exactly 25 years ago in June, Clayton, as a member of the board's executive committee, helped hire me to lead CTi. For all of those years we've experienced Clayton's wisdom, faithfulness, and marvelous sense of humor.We could always count on Clayton to do whatever it took. For the June meetings, because of a change of plans, he volunteered to fly standby to arrive early. He waited at the airport for hours without complaint. When he finally arrived in Chicago, his huge smile was intact.Clayton's father, L. Nelson Bell, helped Billy Graham found Christianity Today. In CTi's history, only Harold Ockenga and Billy Graham had been chairmen—that is, until our June board meeting. Billy was then elevated to founder and honorary chairman. Clayton, after a decade of effective leadership as executive chairman, was elected chairman. Clayton gave us vital leadership during years of steady growth when we added magazines and developed a major Internet presence. He honored his father's legacy in his pastorate and in his broad national leadership (see page 28). His leadership in the Presbyterian renewal movement has borne important fruit.Yet he paid a price. When he was going through deep pastoral waters, he talked about how traumatic the adversity was—yet he also felt a renewed power in his preaching. With his wonderfully effective wife, Peggy, at his side, he remained faithful, abounding with confidence in God's grace.He truly had a pastor's heart. Some years ago, when a Christian leader with national responsibility fell into sin and had to resign his position, Clayton flew across the country, rented a car, and drove many miles to minister to this man and his wife.After that visit, he wrote me a letter, a telling window into Clayton the pastor: "I left as emotionally drained as I can ever remember being, yet with the deep conviction that our Lord was there. I also left with a sense of contentment. … I was exhilarated over the work of God's forgiveness and grace that is greater than all our sins."That was Clayton: aware of doing the Lord's work, and exhilarated over God's forgiveness and grace. His book, Moorings: Anchor for a World Adrift, outlines bedrock beliefs. His emphasis was grace and a realistic faith that took sin seriously but took God's redemptive power as greater than all our sins. He brought joy and faith to us, and we can all rejoice in the hope he so faithfully proclaimed, and which he is now so vividly experiencing.

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