“for I know that this will turn out for my salvation through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death”
~Philippians 1:19–20 (LSB)
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith”
~2 Timothy 4:7 (LSB)
As I write this post (1/19/2022), my heart is heavy with the news I received, only 24 hours ago, about my dear mentor, Joshua Clutterham. Only a little time passed before I heard that he became “absent from the body and … at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).
The last time I saw Joshua was a week prior to his passing. He had given the news of hospice care a little before then and I had sent him an email the weekend before I would last see him. On Monday, January 10, 2022, he visited Brookes Bible College one last time. That final meeting with him was, in essence, a goodbye meeting. We hugged and cried and encouraged one another. It was difficult for him and it was difficult for me.
Everyone knows: Joshua impacted several lives. I am only one of many. It is my honor to have known him for the almost 4 years that I did. While I could say so much about him, I will limit myself to five ways he impacted me. In sum, I just want to share a little bit about who Joshua was to me.
#1 He Was a Teacher
Joshua was officially my first college professor. The first class I took with him was English Grammar; however, this is not the only class I took. In fact, God’s providence led him to be the professor that I have taken most classes with in my entire baccalaureate at Brookes Bible College. He taught me everything from Old Testament to Koine Greek, from Bible Geography to the Life of Christ, and he taught all of my counseling classes: (1) Introduction to Biblical Counseling, (2) Relational Wisdom and Conflict Resolution, (3) Spiritual Life, and (4) Marriage and the Family. I would not have the writing skills, the academic disciplines, nor the knowledge of theology, Bible (and Ancient) history, and practical living and counseling to the extent that I do if it was not for this man. In total, he taught 12.5 classes in my bachelor degree. That is almost one third of my entire degree. If that wasn’t enough, he also filled in several times when my professors could not make it to their own classes. So by far, he was the most influential professor in my entire undergraduate program.
There are so many classroom stories I can recall. Perhaps the most well known and favorite among us students was “Map time!” (he always had a fun way of saying it!). This occurred in almost every class I took with him—and yes, that includes English Grammar. I remember during our class breaks we would relax in the student lounge and eventually, in honor of Professor Clutterham, we called it “Nap Time!” (saying it with the same tone Joshua would for “Map Time!”).
I would say Professor Clutterham’s notes have always been my favorite. They were consistently thorough, with several citations, and I still return to them for preparing lessons or paper projects. Honestly, some of them could be published as books! While every teacher has their strengths and weaknesses, Professor Clutterham excelled at writing helpful and detailed class notes. His lecturing was also phenomenal, as he was able to take almost any subject and relate it to our course topic; and, no matter how often you thought he went on a tangent, it would amaze you how easily he would bring its relevance to the course. Joshua was and will forever be one of my favorite professors.
#2 He Was a Supervisor
He was not only a professor to me, however. So far in my entire life, I have only worked for one company: Brookes Bible College. When I began in June of 2019, Joshua Clutterham was my supervisor. He taught me the art of admissions. And when I began, I was not the best employee I could be.
Since it was (and is) my first (and only) job, I had a lot of learning to do. I not only had to learn how to handle admissions work, but I needed to practice and cultivate my work ethic. If there was man who was able to help me, it was Joshua. He labored with absolute patience towards me as I struggled to be comfortable in my position and handle it well. Initially, I was a terrible Admissions Rep. But eventually, I got it. One day, Joshua sat down to talk with me; he looked me in the eye and said, “Obi, I don’t know when or how, or what happened, but I remember a moment when I saw you working and thought it [admissions work] finally clicked.” That meant a lot to me, as it had taken very long for us to work out my ability to handle the tasks.
It was not easy for him; I remember how difficult I was to train and to bear with. But he labored in love, patience, discipline, and teaching to help me grow in my work ethic. I will never forget the difficult times when he had to confront me as a supervisor, but I will also never forget the times he encouraged and reminded me of how good a job I was doing. Because of that close relationship, when he acknowledged the times I did well, that always stuck with me. Every time he needed to correct or confront me on a task, it made it much easier to take it for good, because I knew his heart behind the work. Joshua Clutterham shaped and grew my work ethic for the better, and I am forever grateful.
#3 He Was a Mentor
In some ways, all of these points overlap. With a close relationship of professor, supervisor, mentor, example, and friend—all within the same organization—it’s quite difficult for them not to overlap. Through work and college, Joshua was also an impactful mentor in my life.
For the three and a half years that I’ve known him, I have had many conversations in and out of his office. Outside of class, he has been an appreciated biblical counselor, father-figure, and theological teacher. We have had close discussions about ministry, fighting sin, growing in maturity, and reforming our mind to God’s Word. He dispensed to me a tremendous amount of wisdom.
I feel as though I have grown up with several fathers in my life. I am grateful for each one and their ministry to me. But in a word, Joshua Clutterham has been perhaps one of the most influential spiritual fathers that I have ever had. In some ways, he is a Paul to my Timothy. In fact, I am grateful that one of the last words I was able to say to him echoed just that: “You’ve run the race well; you have fought the good fight” (cf. 2 Tim. 4:7). And all in all, a great majority of the wisdom that I have learned in godly living came from that man.
#4 He Was an Example
I don’t wish to be too specific here. There are certain things in my life that have been difficult for me. One event occurred pretty soon after Joshua was diagnosed with cancer. And suffice it to say, my struggle was nothing compared to his battle. However, that also means that I looked to Joshua as an example for faithfulness in the midst of hardship. I am thankful I was able to communicate that to him before he entered glory. When I fought some difficult circumstances, I gained encouragement from looking to Joshua.
He was faithful in many areas; but most vividly for me, he was faithful to his family, his church, and his students. He was also faithful in the office when he could be. I know he spent a lot of time with his wife and boys. I know he still cared for them as much as he could in his illness. I know he faithfully attended church as often as he could through this trial. He was even faithful a little over a week before his passing, to preach one more time from the gospel of Mark. And finally, he was faithful to teaching us in class as often as he could. Through his sickness, he still taught me Greek and a theology of marriage and family.
Honestly, that example continues. He was faithful unto death (cf. Rev. 2:7). He fought hard in righteousness. I know he wasn’t perfect, but I truly believe few could live at the level he did—even in such suffering. And, as I anticipate life to increase in difficulty, I will never forget his example of faith to me. I know I will be able to recall his godly living.
#5 He Was a Dear Friend
Finally, Joshua was a great friend. He was a man I could share any detail of my life with and ask for prayer—or advice. He encouraged me in so many ways and invested a relationship in me.
One of the most impactful moments he gave me was one of our final conversations just a few months ago. In October 2021, I was struggling with decisions for future education and ministry, particularly seminary options. He came into my office, And tried to encourage me in my decision making (we’ve had several conversations on this since the beginning of my studies at Brookes). That conversation was very helpful in many ways, but perhaps the most helpful was what came after that conversation.
On October 28th, 2021, I received an email from Joshua titled: “We’re Proud of You.” And in that email, he poured out a piece of his heart to me. He wrote:
with any of the seminaries you are considering you will be a huge source of joy and pride for your teachers. For many of us, you are the first student that we will have produced to a seminary and we will not be ashamed to have you say that you were prepared by Brookes. … [T]here is a special pride we take in those students who take the next step academically.~Joshua Clutterham, October 28, 2021.
My heart is joyful to know that, though he will not see the future steps in my life, he is proud of the investment he made in me. I feel the great responsibility and—more importantly—joy to continue what he invested in. It is my joy to continue life in honor to Joshua and know that he would cheer me on every step of the way.
Sorrowful, Yet Rejoicing!
I wish that he were here right now, not for his sake, but for mine. Joshua Clutterham is much better off in the glorious presence of our God and king. But for my sake I wish he could be here. “We’d like to see you hit the finish line of your bachelor’s degree accelerating so keep up the good work this last year of your program!” He wrote to conclude that email. And I would have loved him to see it too. Graduation will not feel right without the one who built and taught the majority of my degree program. But praise God this faithful man’s faith has turned to sight! I’m thankful to God that one day I will see him again. I know that this turned out for his salvation (Phil. 1:19); he was strong and courageous through it all (Joshua 1:9); and he fought the good fight, he ran the course, he kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7). It is my hope that I can continue learning from him as he speaks from to my life in memory (Heb. 11:4b). I will miss him dearly, but I know that one day I will see him again. I am proud to be his disciple and to take what he entrusted to me, and continue his legacy (2 Tim. 2:2). Until glory, brother, may you find your rest in the presence of Almighty Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!
 Old Testament Survey 2 was taught by him for the second half of the semester. A different professor filled in for the first half.
4 thoughts on “A Tribute to Joshua Clutterham”
Obi, I so appreciate your writing this. We first met him when we took a class on Israel that he taught. Rod went to Israel with him as the group leader. He also taught part of the Biblical Counseling class at our church. His teaching on marriage was really inspiring.
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Thank you fire this beautifully worded, heart felt tribute, Obi. ❤️
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It looks like the link to his final sermon might be broken. This link works: https://vimeo.com/665448311/055d83d29a
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I noticed that link problem too. Thanks for giving the right link!