The following is taken from the official Stormont Assembly Hansard report of Monday 21st February 2022.
Various Assembly members spoke on the subject of the sudden death of Mr Christopher Stalford. MLA.
I was interested in the statement made by Mr Easton, who was a DUP member until last year and now sits as an Independent Unionist. The link to his statement was sent to me by a friend.
Here is what Mr Easton said. I will highlight those parts that I would like Christians to particularly note.
“I wish to pass on my deepest condolences to Laura and the four children and to the Democratic Unionist Party. Christopher was born to be a politician. All of us knew how passionate he was about South Belfast and the people whom he represented. He was a wonderful individual. He had a mischievous side to him as well, which I will touch on in a wee second. He was articulate, intelligent, humorous and loyal to the DUP, his friends, the Orange Order and Ulster. He was a loyal Ulsterman. He also had his faith, which was very important to him.
I knew Christopher for over 20 years. When Peter Weir joined the DUP, I came to know Christopher, because he worked for Peter in the office. One side to Christopher that you maybe did not see was his mischievous side. One day when we were out canvassing for Peter for the 2003 Assembly election, it was pouring with rain, and Christopher and I had been left to cover an area on our own. Christopher turned round to me and said, ‘Stuff this. Let’s go and get a pint of Guinness’, so we went and got a pint of Guinness and put the world to rights. Unfortunately, Peter, that happened a few times, so I apologise to you. [Laughter.] Christopher was a wonderful character and an eccentric. He was somebody who, if you were walking past his room, would have called you in, sat you down and chatted away to you. He was a wonderful man, and we will all really miss him. For me, the most important thing to remember about Christopher is that he had his Christian faith. That is why I know, with some comfort, that one day I will meet him again.”
When I wrote my article on Mr Stalford based upon the summary of his character as given by the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ columnist, Suzanne Breen, I was emailed by two individuals, one of who at least is in membership of the Free Presbyterian Church, basically disowning me and directing quite a few severe reproofs, one of which was declaration that I was ’not righteous’ which, in the light of 1 Corinthians 6:9, damns me eternally.
Suzanne Breen had written of Christopher Stalford that: “The solemn, po-faced politician that outsiders may have initially encountered belied the reality that lay underneath. The DUP MLA had a wicked sense of humour, swore like a sailor and smoked — although he didn’t want his mother to know.”
In my article of February 22nd, I sought to point out that if this was the character of the man, and it appears that no one challenged what Suzanne Breen said, then it was not the character of a true believer.
It was for this that I was berated by the two who emailed me!
Now it appears that what Suzanne Breen said has been verified by one who knew him for 20 years! Mr Easton is also a professing Christian I am given to understand and if he is not then I apologise in advance for saying more of him than I should!
He confirms that heading into a pub for ‘a pint of Guinness’ was a routine activity for both him and Christopher Stalford and he unabashedly states the same in public!
This is today’s ‘Christianity!
It is clear from Mr Easton’s account of the incident he refers to that Christopher Stalford was content to make use of the euphemistic outburst, ‘Stuff this’! No person seeking to walk with God would employ such a phrase knowing what it is a substitute for! It is, to say the least, a rude, coarse and angry expression of disgust or dissatisfaction with someone or something which no child of God will utter.
My article of February 2nd was entitled: ‘The Truth will out’. Since writing it, quite a number have contacted me and produced instances of behaviour in Mr Stalford with which they were personally acquainted, which merely confirmed Suzanna Breen’s comment.
Now it has been further endorsed by Mr Easton.
I have only been seeking to uphold the honour of God’s truth and state what the Bible teaches regarding these reports on Mr Stalford’s words and actions. They are not in keeping with the words and actions of a Christian.
Others, such as those professing Christians within the DUP and their ilk, may be content with such behaviour being classed as the behaviour of a true Christian but I cannot, in the light of God’s Holy Word, be silent on such a matter, both for the sake of the honour of the Lord and the wellbeing of Christians everywhere, especially the young.
Let us all note these, but a few verses, of what the Lord says regarding our words and actions!
“I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me,” Psalm 39:1.
“Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles,” Proverbs 21:23.
“For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:14.
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned,” Matthew 12:36-37.
“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel,” Romans 2:16.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works,” Revelation 20:12.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
1st March 2022.