In Remembrance of Jay Kyle, 1951 – 2022
My first encounter with Jay was in Dhaka 16 years ago. It was early in the morning when I was preparing to go off from the hostel to teach a biblical subject to a group of young people and I saw a stranger having breakfast in the dining room. He took the initiative to introduce himself and we had a brief chat before he left for the airport to take his next flight to another city in Asia. He came across as a seasoned traveler. He was friendly and seemed to take an interest in knowing me.
Little that I know that it was not a chance encounter. Like most people in the City to City Asia Pacific circle who testified that it was Jay who got them into Redeemer Church Planting Movement, I too was found by Jay. Much later I discovered that this man had an incredible ability to look for the right men and women in many cities in Asia to be trained as church planters. He connected us to Tim Keller and the Gospel Centered Church Planting Network in Manhattan. He was like Philip who enthused Nathaniel to come and see what he had found- “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Philip was excited to have found the true gem- Jesus the Messiah. He wanted everyone to come to know the Messiah. In the same way, Jay, very much like Philip, enthused many Asian church leaders to come and see and taste the gospel of grace dished out through the teaching and training of Tim Keller and his associates.
Two years after my initial encounter with Jay in Dhaka, I found myself sitting in a room with several Asian church leaders in Manhattan. The 5 weeks intensive church planting training profoundly changed my life and ministry. I was soaking in Tim Keller’s teaching. Tim Keller demonstrated to us the importance of preaching Christ in the OT and showed us that the gospel of grace permeates throughout the OT and NT. What I learned about the gospel of grace from Tim Keller I saw in Jay’s life and experienced in how he related to me. Jay was both humble and bold. He was joyful and fun to be with. He genuinely wanted to give the best to people by connecting them to the best resources he knew. He was never selfish and was willing to share and give away what he had. He was always there to empower people to live to their full potential for Christ and his mission. There is a photo on Facebook showing Tim Cox in a kneeling position taking a photograph with his camera, and behind him was Jay holding an umbrella shielding Tim from drizzling rain drops. This is a picture that epitomizes Jay’s life. He was always there holding an umbrella literally and metaphorically for his colleagues in the church planting circle so that they could do their work well.