In 1990 at a conference in London the Lord providentially brought me into contact with Bart Brewer and his wife Ruth and we immediately ‘hit it off’ and became good friends. Bart had for a number of years been a Roman Catholic Carmelite priest and then the Lord graciously saved him and eventually led him to establish ‘Mission to Catholics’ based in San Diego. The story of Bart’s time as a Roman Catholic priest and his subsequent conversion are told in his book ‘Pilgrimage from Rome’.
Bart, accompanied by Ruth, was the joint-first overseas speaker [along with Dave Hunt accompanied by his wife Ruth] that I hosted for meetings here in Northern Ireland back in 1994 and, in partnership, Bart and Dave participated in the first public debate that ‘Take Heed’ organised called ‘Should Protestants and Roman Catholics Worship Together?’ One of the highlights for Margaret and myself was spending a few days in Scotland with Bart and Ruth once the meetings were finished. They were jolly, fun people [can Margaret and I ever forget Ruth livening up her plain white trainers with the aid of a black felt-tip marker pen?] but even on holiday Bart never ceased, as the Lord gave him openings, to witness to those still captive to the Roman Catholic religion – I’m sure the 2 nuns that he spoke to in the grounds of Culzean Castle were never so graciously witnessed to because that was Bart’s ‘trademark’ – zealous for the truth of the Gospel but ever mindful that whilst the message of the cross will give offence, he the messenger must not.
It was a great joy for Margaret and myself to visit and stay with Bart and Ruth in San Diego in 1996 and I was able to participate as a speaker at the conference he hosted at the ‘Mission to Catholics’ complex on 18th May 1996. In June 2004 whilst ministering in California for several weeks I was again able to spend some days with Bart and Ruth down in San Diego. It was evident that ill health was taking its toll but that twinkle in his eyes never dimmed and his love for his Lord was as strong as ever. During my visit there I met another good friend of Bart and Ruth’s, Tony Pezzotta who, like Bart, had been ordained as a Roman Catholic priest and then the Lord graciously saved him in 1974 and since then, he like Bart, has been seeking to reach Roman Catholics with the truth of the Gospel. At the close of this tribute is a link that will take you to a photo taken during my time there with Tony on my right hand side and Bart on my left hand side.
It is very true that there are certain people that we meet along the road of life who truly enrich our own lives. Bart Brewer was one of those people as is also, his now widow, Ruth. Just as Paul wrote of the Christians in Philippi “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” so Margaret and I thank our God, who was also Bart’s God, upon every remembrance of one gracious, gentle, giant of a “good and faithful servant”, Bart Brewer.
Bart’s earthly ‘Pilgrimage from Rome’ has ended and he has now “entered into the joy of his Lord” but, as his pastor wrote in the email informing me of Bart’s death, Bart’s message to those still deceived by Roman Catholicism, would graciously and in love be, ‘No priest but Christ; no sacrifice but Calvary; no authority but the Word of God; no confession but the Throne of God’s Grace’.
Do please prayerfully remember Bart’s widow, Ruth, and his son, Steve.
Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 20 September 2005