Veronica and I are thankful for the privilege of being able to share some cherished memories of our relationship with this remarkable man, Bruce Yocum.
Our Son Glen was back in Aotearoa New Zealand following near a year with the Servants of the Word in household training. Glen was wanting to seek the Lord regarding marriage, yes or no? He did hear the Lord, and married Louise, also a full member in the Lamb of God Community. They married on 9 November 1991. In June 1992, Glen and Louise, and good friends Steve and Kath also full members of the Lamb of God, agreed to use Steve’s van to deliver some supplies to our Nelson Branch. The four stayed overnight in the Nelson Branch then next day started on the return to Christchurch, about a five-hour trip through the Lewis Pass mountains. Sadly Glen, Louise and Steve died when the van hit ‘unseen’ black ice. Kath was the only one to survive the dreadful accident.
After the accident, but within a week, Bruce Yocum came into our lives. Bruce wrote Veronica and me on behalf of the brothers in his household. That personal note revealed to us that Bruce was indeed a person who sees ‘relationship with people’ a key in the building of a Christian Covenant Community.
Some years later Bruce was assigned to assist and grow the ‘Pacific Region’ of the Sword of the Spirit. We had the privilege to host Bruce in our home at 9 Lake Terrace Road on so many of his visits to the Pacific. He was with us the day of the deadly ‘Christchurch Earthquake’ on 22 February 2011. Bruce and I had started a business meeting in the lounge at about 12.30 pm. Then twenty-one minutes later I was thrown over the dining table and I yelled at Bruce to get out and quickly. I ran up the shaking stairs looking for Veronica. Not there, I then found her in less than a minute – she was rolled up and terrified on the garage concrete floor. Above her the garage roof was starting to drop metal rods down onto the floor. Veronica thought she would die. Overall it took about 28 seconds to reduce the house value by $526,000 and four years to buy another home.
Bruce was a giant that day. Aftershocks went on and on all day and night. Bruce asked for my car so that he could check our daughter Sue and the four children. The car could not be freed to drive. So Bruce took off and ran house to house, and found Sue highly stressed. He asked Sue for her vehicle and keys and eventually they found our grandchildren.
Three days following the Earthquakes, with our house still rocking and rather dangerous to be inside, Veronica received a call from Manchester UK, to say her mother had died. We three sat down to plan. The reality inside our house at No 9 was rather challenging in the first 10-12 days of chaos. The house had no running water, no working toilets, no ability to email in or out. Back to our plan. We decided that Veronica should immediately prepare herself to fly Air New Zealand via Los Angeles, then to London, and then on to Manchester. The stress for Veronica would have been very significant. At that point Bruce declared, ‘I will escort Veronica to London and then on the funeral day I will be there.’ – And he did care for Veronica with deep Christian love and attention. On the day of the funeral, Bruce, Trevor and Linda Perry [from Antioch Community, London UK] were there for Veronica and her family.
On receiving calls from several senior brothers just hours after Bruce was found to have passed away [21 January, 2022], I entered days of personal ‘daze’. I was invited to ‘write up this and that’ about Bruce, but I was in no position to focus, and neither am I now. A remembered presence of Bruce with us is very welcomed in this our home. I conclude with parts only of a private letter, sent by Bruce on 30 June, 2016:
“Roger- there is no way I can express my love for you and Veronica, or my appreciation for what you have been in my life. The two of you have absorbed more pain and suffering than anyone else I know. God will reward you. Your children, all of them, are lining already to welcome you into Paradise. Don’t know if I will ever see you again, in this life. But we will be mates forever in the Kingdom. Veronica – you will get in the Post [I hope] some pretty plates. Just a parting gift from Mr to Sister to one of the most amazing sisters I have ever had. I will treasure forever the memory of the privilege I had accompanying Veronica to Manchester [Only reason I would ever go there Roger boy] I love you both more than I can say. Don’t respond. Bruce T. Yocum”