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2 March 2017

Thanksgiving service for the life of Denis Lane

Denis LaneIt is with great sadness that we inform you that Denis Lane passed away on 31st January. Denis served as OMF’s Overseas Director from 1970 to 1982 and was instrumental in developing structures that enabled more Asian members to serve in the mission. The thanksgiving service will be held on Tuesday 14th March at 2pm at St Margaret’s Church in Angmering, West Sussex. The church website gives the location and a map. There is also a train station at Angmering and the church is just over a mile away. Taxis are available from the station.

The service is expected to last between an hour and 90 minutes. Refreshments will be served in the church building afterwards. You will be most welcome should you be able to attend. And if you are unable to attend but would like to send any kind of tribute, please feel free to do so.

The family have asked that no flowers be sent, please. However, if you would like to make a donation in Denis’ memory, please send it to Tearfund. The giving in memory of a loved one page on their website is one way to do this.

The ministry of Denis Lane

Denis and June Lane joined OMF in 1960 and served in Malaya and Singapore. His leadership, alongside that of the General Director, Michael Griffiths, proved highly significant for the development of key aspects of OMF’s ministry. This was particularly so when it came to establishing structures in East Asia that would allow many more Asians to join the mission. 

Writing to leaders of OMF around the world, Dr. Patrick Fung, said Denis “was a dear colleague to the Fellowship who brought a significant contribution to the Fellowship particularly in the 1960s and 1970s.  He was instrumental in the establishment and development of many Asian Homesides.  Jennie and I were much blessed when Mr Lane personally encouraged us at our Orientation Course.”

Denis had a deep understanding of the cultural issues involved in working with Asian church leaders. Upon hearing the news of Denis’ death, a Malaysian Christian leader wrote on his blog post about “the husband and wife team” who “played a significant role in my spiritual formation” and of how “Denis, together with June, mentored me in various critical ways”, providing him with a model marked by wisdom and the kind of encouragement that nurtured courage and strength.

We give thanks for the life and ministry of Denis Lane and pray that June, their three children Andrew, Christine and Richard, and four grandchildren, would know the Lord’s comfort and peace, with the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.

Obituary: The Revd. Denis J Lane (5th December 1929 – 31st January 2017) 

In the 1960s and 1970s two remarkable men led OMF International. The General Director, Michael Griffiths, was well known as the public face of the Mission. The other was the Overseas Director, Denis Lane, who was responsible for the daily running of the organisation. He was the man who brought vision into reality. 

Denis was born in Worthing in 1929. His initial direction was towards the law and he graduated from London University with a LLB in 1949. But the next year saw him starting training for the Church of England ministry at Oak Hill College. The Vice-Principal at the time was Alan Stibbs, who had served with CIM until he returned to UK because of ill health in 1935, and was regarded by Dr J I Packer as the best theological mind serving evangelicalism in the post-war years.  With such training, Denis went to a curacy in Deptford and during this time completed the London University BD. A second curacy followed in Cambridge before, in 1960, with his wife June, he joined CIM/OMF to serve in Malaya. They were sent out by their home church, St Matthew’s Worthing. Isabel Kuhn’s book Ascent to the Tribes had been used to lead each of them individually into this ministry. At that time the OMF had a North Malayan field which worked with the Anglican Church and where an Anglican clergyman, with six years of parish experience, was very welcome. They went there with their young son and served in the South Perak district for six years. 

The OMF leadership soon noted the quality of Denis’ mind and ministry and he was invited to join the staff at the International Headquarters in Singapore. He served as Promotion Secretary until 1970 when he was appointed Overseas Director. This meant that he was overseeing all the work of OMF throughout East Asia. This was the period in which Asian members were entering OMF in increasing numbers and there was a need to provide the structures that were necessary to form support bases in the various countries of Asia. Here Denis’ legal training, which enabled him to be an exact thinker, was combined with his deep understanding of the cultural issues involved in working with Asian church leaders. Some of those cultural insights were distilled in his most popular book ‘One World, two minds’.  The rapport that he established with the Asian sending countries made him an obvious choice to be the first Director of Home Ministries from1982-1988. 

Leadership in OMF was never just dealing with practical issues. It was also spiritual leadership.  Denis was not only a man of prayer, but was also highly regarded as a Bible expositor. His series of sermons on Abraham and Ezekiel were published. His preaching technique was set out in another book ‘Preach the Word’.

Denis was a gifted musician and music was one of his forms of relaxation. Those passing by their flat in Singapore would often see Denis, with headphones on his head, lost in his own world of music. He was a very private man. When he was asked in his retirement interview where he would go for spiritual help if he needed it, he seemed puzzled at the question having learned to be reliant on his personal walk with God from which he drew strength. 

He and June retired to Rustington in 1994. They settled into St Margaret’s, Angmering where Denis joined in the ministry until the onset of Alzheimer’s curtailed this. He is survived by his wife June, their three children, and grandchildren.

Rev. Ray Porter