Our dear colleague, friend and brother Bill Wilson, who went
to be with the Lord in July, was born and brought up in Glasgow. Although
he went along to Sunday School as a boy, it was not until his brother shared
the gospel with him that he was saved at the age of 15. Over the years he
became increasingly active in the local church and in evangelism; one day
he met Myra who was handing out gospel tracts in the street. Myra, a nurse
and a keen Christian, was very involved in the Nurses' Christian Fellowship.
They were married when Bill was 23 years old.
Bill's early working life was in industry and included
running his own shot-blasting business for 12 years. Bill had discovered
what he modestly described as “some
sort of gift for preaching”, and his pastor suggested he considered going
to Bible College to develop further. After attending the Scottish Baptist
College as a mature student on a part-time basis, he and Myra decided to
step out in faith and enter full-time ministry. After ten years as pastor
of Greenock Baptist Church a fellow Baptist minister in the Renfrewshire
fraternal showed him some slides about zambesi mission (zm)
and its work in Malawi. During his sabbatical Bill and Myra visited Malawi
and soon afterwards Bill was invited to join the mission's Executive Committee.
After a second visit to Malawi, Bill and Myra sensed that they were coming
to the conclusion of their ministry in Greenock; and so in 1996 they commenced
a ten year period of service to the Lord through zm in
Bill is remembered dearly by those he met and served with in Malawi and
within zm . Their fellow mission workers Abraham
and Ruth Folayan wrote: “Our hearts and prayers go to Myra
and the family as we thank God for the life and ministry of Bill who was
such a significant help and support for us through our time together in Malawi.
It is sad because the human side of us realises that a faithful "soldier
of the cross" has been taken away from us while the battle is far from
over! Bill was not just a soldier, he was a warrior, a great mentor, a visionary
leader, a dogged and practical administrator, a friend and above all a true
brother. We miss his physical presence but the memory of his immense contribution
will remain - for the good of the Church in Malawi and to the glory of God.
Surely, we can say of Bill, he has fought a good fight, he has finished the
race, he has kept the faith ”.
Colin Cresswell, member of the mission's
Executive Committee said that “Bill's passion in preaching was such
a feature of Bill's work. Without ever being dramatic or over demonstrative
he always spoke with verve and enthusiasm and a real desire to apply the
Scriptures in a relevant and practical way. I think there were times when
he was frustrated by his limited knowledge of Chichewa but that never stopped
him from speaking faithfully for his Lord. His enthusiasm in worship was
also something which stood out. Coming, one presumes, from a fairly staid
and sober Scottish background did not prevent Bill from fully entering
into the lively songs and movements of a Malawian congregation. Bill's
concern for all the pastors and their congregations took him the length
and breadth of the country. No place was too remote and no person too insignificant
to be visited, encouraged and cared for”.
Rev Connex Ijalasi, former General
Secretary of the Zambezi Evangelical Church commented on Bill's ability
to weigh up situations extremely quickly and accurately. He described him
as a man “who had a clear understanding
of his call of God; he was a man of godly character such as integrity, love,
humility, servanthood, truthfulness and compassion”. Connex also noted
Bill's sacrificial concern: “He was a source of encouragement to both
ZEC leaders, as well as to those young pastors that were working in rural
areas. He loved visiting those young pastors to offer encouragement. He easily
adapted into Malawian culture by being willing to go anywhere and endure
anything as long as the message of the Gospel was preached”.
Speaking at Bill's Thanksgiving Service in Dingwall, Jim
former zm director, made special mention of Bill's warmth
and sense of humour together with the seriously dedicated approach he took
to every aspect of his work. “Bill loved Malawi and the Malawians. He
knew most of the pastors and all the church leadership well and he was himself
much loved and respected - in fact the Malawian church leaders often
guidance, particularly on tricky procedural and constitutional matters.
He was a wise counsellor and I also greatly valued his advice - and could
not have done my job without it.
Bill had a pastor's heart and this influenced everything he did. He would
often drive many, many miles, frequently over deeply rutted dirt tracks, to visit
and encourage some poor pastor struggling to build up
the church. Typically Bill would put his arm around the pastor and listen attentively
as he shared how things were going, before offering any advice and encouragement
he could - often giving some Bibles, or
Christian books which might help. Then he would have a quiet word with the
pastor's wife and give her something to help feed the family.”
This ministry of visiting pastors and churches in
the remote rural areas gave Bill great pleasure, particularly as he saw
them grasp some aspect of God's truth. He also loved seeing the joy of
the Malawian people – their
warmth, their great sense of humour and their laughter.
Bill's African brothers in Christ sum up our sentiments
so well, as we remember Bill with great thankfulness for his life; and
as we continue to pray for God's peace, comfort and eternal encouragement
to be upon his wife Myra and their family. “I know that Bill has not
died but he has gone to be with the Lord who will resurrect all who sleep
in Him (John 11: 25). Thanks be to Him who gives us victory through our
Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 57)”. “Be encouraged
by these words, “Now we know that
if the earthly tent is destroyed, we have a building from God an eternal
house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1) ”.