The entire site is simply but profoundly dedicated to the memory of a courageous young man called Jonathan Mosgrove, whose brief but eventful life touched so many others with the love of his wonderful Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.
Jonathan was a courageous, unassuming young man. I don’t doubt that he had his private struggles with his disease and like us all, must have asked ‘Why?’ many times. In school though he never let his frustrations and anger be seen. To me he had an air of quiet acceptance, of maturity beyond his years.
I remember his smile that lit up his face, how he enjoyed the banter in class and his willingness to participate in everything he could. I remember the little look he would give me out the corner of his eye when I pestered him for homework. The little look that said ‘Give over woman – don’t you know there are more important things in life than homework?’
How right he was!! Every pupil and teacher at Lagan saw his determination and his sense of fun and realised that he was the same as them. I have absolutely no doubt that the lives of everyone he met at Lagan, those he knew well and those he knew simply to see, have been touched by his short life.
George Bates extended tribute to young Jonathan
I hope you don’t mind me relating to you a recent development in my ministry.
This past year has brought some amazing opportunities for serving Our Glorious Redeemer and Lord Jesus Christ and remarkable answers to prayer, as souls have been gloriously saved, and saints have been refreshed. But one thing stands out in my memory as a Divine intervention, that blesses my soul every time that I think of it.
It centres around a young fourteen year old boy called Jonathan.
I would think that I am bound to have seen Jonathan beforehand, inasmuch as I had known and loved and prayed for the whole family ever since the earliest days of my new found faith in Christ, way back at the beginning of 1968.
Jonathan’s great grandparents, Lily and Davy Stitt, had become two of my dearest friends and fellow prayer warriors, as we spent literally hundreds of hours in prayer and fellowship together. Nevertheless, my first clear recollection of him was as a little boy of about 5 or 6 years of age, out playing with a crowd of other children around him in the East Belfast Sydenham area, outside the window of the room where I was sitting with his mum
The thing I found remarkable was that he was continually dancing and skipping up and down, like a jumping jack in the middle of a crowd of kids. All the rest of them were just standing there talking amongst themselves, but not Jonathan. He alone was prancing about without ceasing even for a few minutes break, for the entire hour that I was in the house speaking to his mother, Jacqueline.
I had called in to see Jacqueline and to find out how the family were keeping. As I sat there chatting with her and watching the boy outside, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked
“Is Jonathan hyperactive or something Jacqueline? For he hasn’t stood still for one moment since I’ve been here, even though the others are simply standing discussing something”.
Jacqueline took a deep breath and began to enlighten me as to the fact that this was not the case, but that the doctors had broken the sad news to the child that because of his physical condition (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy) he would eventually have to go into a wheelchair for the rest of his life, so he had purposely decided to do all his dancing and jumping now…from morning to night.
After a small operation on his tendons in the heels and hips to loosen them, the callipers were the next contraption to be mastered by this brave and good natured child, who never complained, but simply accepted the path that opened up before him, supported by the remarkable outpouring of love that Jonathan experienced from his close knit family.
Afterwards came the wheelchair and a major operation to insert a steel rod into his back to hold his head and body erect, which by the Grace of God he brought him through.
Throughout these seasons of suffering, the Assembly of believers at the Meeting House in Randalstown majored in prayer with heavy hearts, for God’s grace, and help, and strength, and comfort, for Jonathan and his sister Donna, with his broken hearted mother Jacqueline and father Tom, grandmother Olive, during those turbulent anxious days, and often sleepless nights.
We knew it was sure to have been a devastating time for them, and that the mental and nervous and emotional stress and strain, was bound to have exhausted them completely, but we were so impressed by the amazing loyalty and the faithful devotion that they displayed towards Jonathan at all times. The love bond deepened between the family and our little assembly.
Then one tragic day at 14 years of age, the van in which Jonathan was travelling as a passenger was involved in a road traffic accident, and the injuries that he received proved fatal. Everyone was devastated.
I was concluding a week of Gospel meetings in Scotland on Sunday 15th October 2000, where incidently there was a precious soul saved on every one of those 7 nights, each one with strong crying, spontaneously weeping their way to Christ. Liz rang to tell me that Jonathan had gone to be with his Lord earlier that day. Jacqueline asked me if I would conduct his funeral as soon as I would get home again to Northern Ireland, which I did on the 19th October 2000.
It was an amazing funeral at Roselawn Cemetery, on the very peak of the Castlereagh area hills a day that will forever remain indelibly etched in my memory. All his weeping school class lined both sides of the route that led to his grave, with all the school teachers lovingly standing by, obviously deeply affected in their love for their dearly cherished pupil. The sky was blue, the Lord was there and as the Spirit of God fell upon us, the sorrow of many hearts was revealed as those same teachers stood separately from one another, surrounded by weeping groups of their own school children, for so long afterwards.
A short time later Jonathan’s mum and dad came to see me, and Jacqueline said in her own inimitable good natured way “George, I know that you think Jonathan was an angel and so he was, but there was one area where he wouldn’t show much grace, and that was if anybody went anywhere near his piggy bank. Everything went in there. His birthday presents, Christmas boxes, pocket money, and none of us had a clue just how much was in it. Tom and I counted it and we discovered that he had gathered £670, and we prayed as to what we should do with it and we believe the Lord would have us give it to you, as a special gift, for your ministry as an Evangelist”.
I was overwhelmed and at a loss to know how to react.
“What exactly do you mean when you say that it’s for ministry” I asked, wanting to be absolutely sure that I understood them correctly. “Well, just say you were going to take a mission overseas, you could use it for the boat fare or getting literature printed or whatever. It is to help financially in the process of your ministry”. I thanked them from the depth of my heart and said that I would pray about this.
As I prayed, I felt it would be entirely wrong to spend the money upon anything that would swallow it up quickly, lest it should be forgotten, but rather that it should perpetuate itself in some way and be long remembered as Jonathan’s gift.
I remembered that I had been asking the Lord that if it was His Will (DV), maybe some day (no matter how long it might take). He would consider the possibility of allowing me to have a laptop and projector for my ministry, so that I could use it when teaching upon the subjects of the Tabernacle – the High Priests Garments – the Whole Armour of God, etc, without having to transport bulky models all over the countryside and beyond these shores. I sincerely believe that if the Lord tarries, this will be the method that the next generation of preachers and teachers of the Word of God will use, as the price of computers and projectors come down and make them accessible.
I wondered if this £670 had anything to do with that prayer?
The laptop alone at that moment, (with the necessary specifications that would be required for the job), would have been £2,895 and the projector a good deal more.
“What if this large gift of Jonathan’s is the small beginnings of God’s provision?” I asked myself. Also, I had been specifically praying of late, “lord, you know how short my time is, and you say in your word
“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it”.
Please don’t allow me to be putting my energies into something that is not of your building, but let me be occupied only in what you are doing”.
I went back to Jacqueline and Tom, (Jonathan’s mum and dad), with these thoughts in my head, they rejoiced, and said
“George, there was another wee thing that you didn’t know about Jonathan. He loved his computer and every day as soon as he could, he went straight on the internet, and into a chat room with other wee friends from all over the world who had the same health problems as himself. We believe that he would be delighted to know that his savings would be a help in this way”.
That £670, over the next couple of years, grew to £1,400 and the price of the laptop mentioned earlier came down to within reach of that, and I was able to purchase one a couple of months ago.
To my delight something took place that confirmed the track that I was on completely. Although nothing like this ever happened in the entirety of the 34 years that I have been walking with the Lord, or in the 26 years that we have been living “by faith”, looking to Christ to supply all our needs in full time service for Him.
I received a second larger gift of £1,690 that was specified as being “for my ministry”, and not for my own personal needs.
This brings me to the third and final amazing occurence that quickly followed. I was enjoying an afternoon of Christian fellowship with a unique servant of the Lord, who is also a very special friend of mine, and he was discussing a business venture with me for prayer purposes, as he often does. At one point in the conversation, he happened to remark upon a facility that is currently provided by architects, with a purpose of a potential buyer envisaging a project on CD portraying a building as if it was already completed. “It’s like virtual reality” he said, “you can even walk around the rooms and corridors”. “If only you knew how close that is to something that is on my own heart” I exclaimed. “What is that ?” he asked. “Ah my brother, I don’t want to take you on a whole story that leads down that road today” I replied “No George, come on now, I am sharing where I am with you, you must tell me where you are that I might pray for you also”.
“Alright then I will”, I responded. “Why is it some of these multi multi multi millionaires, who are Christians, in America or somewhere like that, don’t spend a couple of thousand dollars and make one of those CDs taking us on the five minute tour of the Tabernacle from the Gate, to the Ark of the Covenant, and then put it on the internet and allow fellow believers from all over the world to download it absolutely free.
So that preachers and teachers can preach the glories of Christ all over the planet, from now until Jesus comes. Not to mention Sunday School teachers, and RE teachers in our education system, think of the blessing it would be”.
“Yes”, my friend replied, “I see what you mean and I think that it’s a good idea”.
Now God knows I am not lying when I say this, but I had no more thought in my mind that this would lead to anything, but that this was the end of the matter. It was simply the sharing of a vision with a dear friend and brother in Christ.
Yet a few days later I received a phone call from him telling me that he had brought my idea before his fellow directors in their Christian Trust. “We want to be part of that” he said enthusiastically, “and we have allocated you up to
£5,000 towards your project.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I didn’t even have a project, for I am up to my ears with meetings and missions and oversight responsibilities.
So I said “But I don’t have a project!”
“Well you have now”, he replied.
He was right!
A Charitable Company is being drawn up, by a Godly Christian solicitor, at this very moment for the gifts previously mentioned.
A Website called “thebiblezone.com” is also already under construction and is developing fast with some beautiful pictures of the Tabernacle and High Priest’s garments.
There are more to come on the Whole Armour of God using armour from the maker of the props for the film ‘Braveheart’, and a TV news clip of an actual storm at Galilee from Israel. Although I already have a digital walk through the tabernacle, nevertheless I look forward to the day when we have a fully animated walk through also, that the whole world can ‘see for free’
The site is dedicated to young Jonathan himself, whose five barley loaves and two small fish are going to feed the multitudes all over the world.