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Nunc dimittis indeed: "We’ve all been hit hard by Tim’s death," writes Rev Tan Huai Tze. Photo from Center for Faith & Work on Facebook.

I can’t claim to know Tim Keller well, but I can say he has deeply impacted me and changed my life, as he has many others.

First, it was through his sermons, books, articles and interviews. But then, God also gave us the great (no exaggeration) privilege of meeting him.

I will never forget Tim preaching into my tired, burnt-out and yet still self-righteous heart.

2014, Hong Kong: I will never forget Tim preaching into my tired, burnt-out and yet still self-righteous heart. It was Luke 15 on ‘The Prodigal Son’ again (Luke 15:11-32), but it was just what I needed to get me on my knees and get right with God.

2018, Taipei: I got to share about our church plant before Tim got up to speak. When Tim got off the stage, our then-little daughter ran across his path. I went to get her and Tim patted her on the head. He looked at me and asked, “Is she yours?”

Then he said, hopefully referring to my sharing, “Good job.”

That was a nunc dimittis (the Latin words that open the ancient prayer of Simeon, “Now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace”) moment for me.

The pandemic years

2021 to 2022: I probably didn’t realise it then, but what a crazy honour it was to be part of a monthly Zoom group meeting with Tim.

Meeting Tim Keller was a great privilege for Tan Huai Tze and his wife, Cindy Ho. Photo from Tan Huai Tze Facebook page, used with permission.

We discussed some papers he had written. The thinking was brilliant, but the sublime and gentle godliness was even more powerful to see.

I remember asking Tim about some online criticism he had gotten. He answered it brilliantly, but what simultaneously rebuked and comforted me was when he finished by saying, “Tze, don’t take it personally.”

Gentle giant

Tim was a giant of the faith, a steadying influence in so many of our lives. Our world feels like a scarier place without him, but we will get through because Tim always pointed to Jesus who is with us still.

Tim always pointed to Jesus who is with us still.

Thank you, and thank you again.

Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chronicles‬ ‭28‬:‭20)‬‬

We’ve all been hit hard by Tim’s death, but I can only imagine how Kathy feels.

Kathy, we love you, we’re crying out to God for you, and we are so very thankful for you. May Jesus draw near.

Timothy Keller was called home to the Lord on May 19, 2023. Rev Tan’s tribute was first posted on his Facebook page and is republished with permission.

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About the author

Tan Huai Tze

Rev Tan Huai Tze is the Lead Pastor of One Covenant Church. He started the church in his living room together with Cindy, his wife, and their two young children after being assessed and trained by City to City Asia Pacific. By God’s grace, the church, which gathers at Funan Mall, has grown into a vibrant community that strives to be a credible witness to the skeptic, seeker and saint.