Single, Yet With Many Descendants

The man who forever shaped me

When I first met Bill, he owned a Christian bookstore in an East Coast resort community. As I peered into the shelves on my first visit, I surmised that whoever owned this store knew his theology and had a mission in the community.

Bill was a man full of the joy of the Holy Spirit, obvious from his smile and greeting, and then confirmed with his words. Sure enough, he explained his vision to reach the community with solid biblical truth, to counsel all who entered and to serve his church.

I was a young college student at the time, serving on a summer mission project in the community. I had just been tasked as one of two student teachers for the summer—which both daunted and thrilled me. I would stop by Bill’s store a few times a week, hang out with him at church, and ask questions about life and ministry. In turn, he came to my teaching sessions and wrote notes about how my teaching made a personal impact upon him.

My wife and I were engaged at the time, so we asked for Bill’s advice on this, as well. He was a single man, and still is, but he spoke God’s wisdom into our relationship. He attended our wedding and blessed us with his presence and many more words of gracious wisdom.

After the mission project I returned home. As often happens after such spiritually intense situations, depression set in. I was in a really bad place and called Bill often for advice. To my surprise, he took time to fly out and visit me, just to spend a week encouraging me, praying with me and listening to me. Who does this?

I still remember that week and how it put me back on the right track. His visit gave me courage to move forward in God’s will and plan for my life.

We kept in touch on and off over the next 25 years. Then last year, I was traveling through Bill’s home city and decided to visit. After dinner at a local pizza place, I learned about his broad ministry to college students over the years. Even then, he still held a number of Bible studies in his home with graduates, young married men and those starting families.

He was forming leaders, praying for and following them all—their lives, their struggles, their successes and their joys. He had been praying for me all those years too. I left his house that night feeling blessed, humbled and honored.

Bill is currently involved in a new church plant. He is an old man, but younger, bolder and happier than most people I know. This is because all he cares about is knowing Christ and spreading the gospel.

My life has been forever shaped by this man. I’m not so sure that Bill “chose” me, but simply that God brought me his way, and he responded. I am emboldened by his example to indiscriminately encourage others, to sacrifice whimsically and to invest in the people God brings into my life.

Whose disciplemaking influence has made a lasting difference in your life? Tell us more in the comment section below, or send your own article to the editor and we’ll publish a few of the best.

Email Updates

Subscribe to receive EFCA blog updates.

* indicates required