Colonel the Reverend Robbie George Russel Hall QGM
Over the last few years, it has been my privilege to get to know Robbie, first of all through my relationship with him as a teacher, then as a pastor, and finally as a friend. When Robbie was in my Pastoral Group at South Wales Baptist College, he could always be relied upon to fulfil Paul’s command in the Bible to “encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone”. For a former military officer, this was not what I expected at all. Indeed, when I first ‘met’ Robbie through his application form to the College, I couldn’t see beyond the title ‘Colonel’. Although the army life had shaped him in so many ways, the more I got to know him, the more I realised him to be an enthusiastic Christian who was full of faith, but also a humble man who cared for those who struggled and took very seriously the injunction to love God and neighbour. During his time at the College, he was a great blessing to staff and students alike.
So we were delighted, along with Robbie and Helen, when he received God’s call to Hope Baptist Church in Bridgend. He would speak of his excitement about the ministry, and his pleasure at the way in which relationships were developing there. At the heart of his ministry was the desire to tell everyone of the love of God for the world shown through the death of Jesus on the cross. He proclaimed the risen Christ at every opportunity, and had a great many ideas and plans for the church which, sadly, we will have to leave in the hands of God.
However, it was in the last year or so of his suffering that I saw another side of Robbie, as we spoke often on the phone. He had questions, as we all do, about his illness and struggle, but he always found solace in the promises of God and comfort in prayer. In Pastoral Group, he had often asked us to pray for his family, but I came to realise just how proud he was of his sons, their spouses and the grandchildren. They were daily in his thoughts and prayers, along with the wider family. Even after so many years, Robbie was still amazed that he had been able to marry a woman like Helen, and delighted in her love and companionship. It is desperately sad that they will not be able to enjoy many years of happy retirement together – but we thank God that their parting is only for a time.
Even though I wish the circumstances had been different, I always enjoyed speaking to Robbie in these last months. In spite of pain and uncertainty, he always managed to strengthen my faith and remind me of God’s care. I miss our conversations and our friendship, but he leaves me with the memory of what it means to ‘rejoice in the Lord, always’. I thank God for his life, pray for those of us who remain, and look forward to the eternity of rejoicing that Robbie now enjoys.
Co-Principal of South Wales Baptist College, Cardiff.