On Saturday evening, August 11, the angels came for our beloved Billy Hall, becoming the fifth of our members that we have lost to death this year. Bill was a great source of encouragement to those of us at Northeast as he had gone through very difficult times in the past year due to breathing difficulties that required the full-time use of oxygen. Yet this did not prevent him from being present every time the doors were open for either Bible Study or worship. In fact he was present for Bible Study on Wednesday evening prior to his death on the following Saturday. As David was told when he was not going to the scheduled meetings due to King Saul’s hatred of him, Bill “will be missed because his seat will be empty” (I Sam. 20:18).
When I think of Bill, I think of his faithfulness; and I think of that smile of his; Bill had a way of lighting up a room just by that smile! On Wednesday nights we have been studying Christian living; we have stressed many times that the Christian life is to be a life of continual growth as we “press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). I believe Bill’s life demonstrated that as I have seen him grow into an outstanding example of one who seeks to follow Jesus faithfully and successfully.
Bill and Hilda have been a part of this congregation almost from the beginning. They were here when I came over 35 years ago; so it is only natural that we will miss seeing him in his customary place. But, we “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (I Thess. 4:13). We sorrow for the loss of his presence, but we have hope knowing the kind of life he lived. It was this hope that Bill had of going to be with Jesus when “absent from the body” (II Cor. 5:8). It is a hope “both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 5:19), that caused Bill to “patiently wait for heaven” (Rom. 8:24-25). Thus Bill’s passing is “Precious in the sight of the Lord” (Psalm 116:15), a “blessed” (happy occasion) (Rev. 14:13), and a transition into his “house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 5-2).
To Hilda, Debra, DeAnne, Leanna, and all the extended family, we extend our deepest and heart-felt sympathy, on behalf of the entire Northeast family. As the chorus of the song, “God’s Family”, states: “And sometimes we laugh together; sometimes we cry; sometimes we share together heartaches and sighs; sometimes we dream together of how it will be when we all get to heaven, God’s family.”
Let me encourage each of you to follow Bill’s example and live in such a way that the words of this song can be true. We look forward to that day when “the dead in Christ shall rise”…and “then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:13-17). Until then, we say, “Farewell my friend, till we meet again!”
Paul M. Wilmoth