Thousands Mourn Death of Bishop Gimenez

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Thousands of mourners came to pay their final respects to Bishop John Gimenez at his funeral service Tuesday at Rock Church in Virginia Beach.

Click play to watch CBN's coverage of the funeral along with testimonies from those close to Bishop Gimenez, who were impacted by his life and his ministry.

Hundreds filed by the casket of the man who poured out his life to serve others.

"He taught us to love people, to win souls and to love evangelism," said Danette Crawford of Joy Ministries

"He always convinced you, you were able to perform and do what God called you to do. He was just a friend to everybody," long-time friend Jim Cucuzza said.

Gimenez once sang one of his favorite tunes He Cares and gave his testimony about how he walked out of a New York prison in 1963, shot heroin for the last time - and was told by his mother to leave and never come back. But God had other plans.

"I had an encounter with Jesus Christ that totally changed me," Bishop Gimenez said. "God never changes, no matter how far down you've gone in life, no matter how wrong you've been, no matter how deep the sin, He's still there."

Dr. Pat Robertson remembered his long-time friend.

"We were dear friends. Since, 1965 - more than 40 years - we've been friends. I miss him. But the Lord is happy! As sure as I'm living I bet he's already organized an angel's choir," Robertson said.

In his amazing ministry, that spanned more than four decades, Gimenez helped plant hundreds of new churches, saw countless people come to Christ and trained hundreds of young ministers.

But he may be remembered best, simply for the way he loved people - and that he never forgot where he came from.

Robertson said, "He was a hopeless junkie out of prison, suddenly, the quote, 'Bishop' of 500 churches!"

Bishop Courtney McBath of Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk, Virginia called Gimenez "a gift that none of us ever deserved.We are what we are today because God sent this man to us!"

Robertson also encouraged the Rock Church family and others to keep the bishop's mission - to reach the world for Jesus Christ - alive.

"Pick up the torch and carry it through," he said. "We miss you, but we'll see you one day in that glorious reunion when the Lord brings us all together!"

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