The passing of Jennifer Rees Larcombe on 24 October 2022, aged 86, will have come as a sad loss to the many thousands of people who were helped by her unique speaking and writing ministry.

By Canon J.John

Jennifer Rees Larcombe on 24 October 2022, aged 86
The passing of Jennifer Rees Larcombe on 24 October 2022, aged 86, will have come as a sad loss to the many thousands of people who were helped by her unique speaking and writing ministry. (Photo: Philo Trust/Canon J.John)

I share that sorrow, deepened by the fact that I had the privilege of being linked by marriage: Jen was my wife’s godmother, and her father, Tom Rees, my wife’s great-uncle. Tom Rees was not just a formidable evangelist – his rallies filled the Albert Hall some fifty times – but, along with his wife, was also responsible for turning Hildenborough Hall into Britain’s first Christian residential centre. Jen was born into a powerful Christian family in 1942. Having what we would now call dyslexia, she suffered bullying and shame at school. In 1966 Jen married Tom, a schoolteacher, and together they had six children. Despite her dyslexia, she began a successful career as a writer, authoring books for children and increasingly writing on practical spiritual issues. Somewhat to her surprise, she found herself an increasingly popular Christian speaker.

After eight difficult years, Jen found herself suddenly healed through the prayer of a new Christian

In 1982 Jen suffered a serious attack of the viral brain disease, encephalitis. After a dramatic near-death experience, she recovered sufficiently to find herself confined to a wheelchair and granted disabled status. As the years passed and she found no healing, she developed a valuable ministry to the many who had sought, but not received, healing from God.

Then, after eight difficult years, astonishingly Jen found herself suddenly and completely healed through the prayer of a new Christian. It was a miracle but one that brought problems: some questioned either the nature of her ailment or her restoration, while others, anxious for their own healing, sought to find out ‘her secret’.

After thirty years of seemingly happy marriage, Tom suddenly walked out on her. With her characteristic honesty, Jen has recounted her struggles as she battled grief, loneliness, depression and anger. She triumphed over them and continued speaking and writing into her 70s before being struck with lung cancer: a cruel affliction for a non-smoker.

There is still a fashion to overlook the un-ordained ‘amateur’ in Christian ministry and, sad to say, particularly when that amateur is female. Yet Jen was a woman with whom people could identify. She was a remarkable communicator; never talking down to you ‘in general’ but always, it seemed, to you personally. With utter honesty she laid bare her struggles with depression, spiritual darkness, chronic illness and the collapse of her marriage.

Jennifer Rees Larcombe
Beauty from ashes: many found hope through Jennifer Rees Larcombe’s honest accounts of her struggles with depression, chronic illness and marital breakdown (Photo: Philo Trust/Canon J.John)

For all her curtailed education, she was the wisest of women. There was no sense of superficiality or ‘fluffiness’ with her; she thought deeply about every aspect of the Christian life and applied a profound biblical knowledge to it. She was a woman of spiritual intimacy. She didn’t just know about God; she knew God. There was a warmth, a reality and a vigour in her Christian walk that is sadly rare. In that remarkable interview on Facing the Canon perhaps the most telling point is where she talks about how she is facing death. I don’t think I’ve heard anybody express such a quiet and compelling hope in Christ.

Jennifer Rees Larcombe journeyed through many valleys in her life but she let Christ lead her out of them all. She created an organisation called Beauty from Ashes and that’s a good summary of what she did in so many people’s lives: transform dry ashes into living beauty.

Canon J.John’s full tribute to Jennifer Rees-Larcombe’s life can be found here



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