Yarloop pastor was devoted to his service
Dr Robert (Bob) John Chapman was the respected pastor of Yarloop Christian Fellowship who lived an adventure-filled life with his family, friends and community.
Bob was born to Mary and Tom Chapman in Darwin on May 7 in 1947. In his early years he lived in Fiji with his parents and sister Jennifer where his father had a posting as an engineer.
As a child Bob had many hobbies. Once, his mum prepared for a birthday party and no one turned up. It turned out Bob had forgotten to give out the invitations to his friends and when his mum checked, they were still in his school bag.
In his younger years, Bob loved the beach and was a keen surfer.
He entered the Royal Australian Navy, but because he was a free spirit, he did not adhere to all the rules and regulations as a young man. He was given an honourable discharge which then set him on the pathway of his destiny as God’s servant.
He then encountered Jesus and his saving grace which proved to be the turning point in his life. He rang a local church when he saw an advertisement in the newspaper and upon visiting one Sunday morning met Dwight and Brenda Whitsett.
With their encouragement and his insatiable desire to know more, they encouraged him to study in the USA which he did. Years later he then went on to achieve his BA in Biblical Studies (USA), Master of Arts in Ministry (USA) and finally his Doctorate.
Bob then married Marilyn in February 1973 and after a few years of marriage, they moved to Alice Springs to work with Aboriginal people.
They were in Alice Springs after Cyclone Tracy had destroyed Darwin, so they had many opportunities to help others. The uniqueness of Alice Springs meant they met and talked to people from all walks of life and were privileged to have been in the company of Dr Fred Hollows and Charles Perkins.
Bob studied SoilScience and started a business in the early 1980s to support his ministry. This took him into the country advising farmers on natural mineral fertilisers which improved soil and increased crop production.
He also had two children, Brie and Joel.
Bob studied Chinese reading and writing at TAFE for several years at night.
He then wrote an English/Chinese Dictionary with the view of having it published.
Bob spoke on the radio daily in Perth for many years with his interesting short stories with a moral outcome. Often, listeners would write and tell him of their problems and asked for help.
In the early 1990s Bob went to China to teach English at a university. The family followed and were overseas for another 18 months.
He spent much of his life on the mission field in the following countries; Nepal, Philippines, Romania, United Kingdom, United States, Africa, Turkey and Outback Australia. As a lecturer at the West Australian Bible College for many years and in the latter years he lectured at the Australian School of Ministry where his lectures were videotaped and available for others to access.
He carried out weekly Bible studies every Tuesday with a special group of young men trying to turn their lives around.
He grew very fond of this group.
Bob would never miss a morning tea with the Cookernup meet-up group.
He would also sit on a seat in the Harvey township outside the coffee shop and just banter to passers-by and anyone who would chat.
In later years, Bob was called to Yarloop and asked to serve the small country town and its people.
During this time, he established a small congregation and the old church meeting place in the town was restored.
When the fires came through the town and district, it became obvious to Bob why he was there.
While the township was in lockdown after the fires, they had special access to the township and those that remained.
They were able to provide much needed support to those who were affected and formed lasting friendships.
Yarloop Christian Fellowship today is a testimony to Bob’s teaching and preaching with God’s blessing and he loved his members dearly.
The Yarloop Christian Fellowship and Four Square Church will hold a memorial service when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
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