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FIRST-PERSON: ‘A friend of Bill’

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DALLAS (BP)–Long before it became a part of the American vernacular, I was a friend of Bill. Not the former president to whom the phrase is normally applied, but William P. “Bill” Hyde. I served with Bill and his wife Lyn in the Philippines in 1994-95 as a volunteer with the International Service Corps of the International Mission Board. Bill and I both taught at the Baptist college in M’Lang, Cotabato, on the island of Mindanao. He was a friend and a mentor.

I first met Bill the day I arrived in M’Lang. He came to drive me around and showed me the town. He was a large man, well over 6 feet, with a contagious laugh that immediately let you know you had found a friend. Bill introduced me to others who would become my friends during my term of service on the mission field. As he showed me around, I remember him saying he would show me the entire town, with the exception of the hospital. He said I had not been in the country long enough to see that site. Later, I saw the hospital, and upon inspection of the place where I might wind up if I became sick, I was tempted even then to grab my passport and book a flight back to the States. Bill’s humor eased a frightened heart and made me want to stay all of the more.

The Hyde house was the most hospitable around. On Tuesday evenings, the six other missionaries who lived in our town would gather for an “Experiencing God” discipleship study. It was such a nurturing time and gave me strength and courage. Bill’s humor and quick wit always made it fun.

Every Friday, after a long week of teaching and ministering among the students at the college, we would gather at the Hyde home for dinner (usually good American food) and a movie. Bill loved John Wayne movies. We must have watched every one that was ever made. If the movie had been sent to us from the States, we would even watch the commercials rather than fast-forward through them just to see what was selling back home. Lyn never cared much for the Duke, and would go to bed early, but Bill and I would stay up late to solve all of the problems of the world.

Once Bill traveled to a faraway town to meet with some pastors and encourage them. To get there, they had to abandon their truck and walk the last part of the way up a long and steep hill. While Bill was in great shape spiritually, physically he had reached his limitation. Upon returning home late that day, I visited him and listened as he told the story of climbing the longest and steepest hill in all of the Philippines. When I last saw him about six months ago, I said to him, “Bill, each time you tell that story, the hill becomes longer and steeper.” I would love to hear that story once again.

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Bill was my friend. He and Lyn cared for me when I was sick. They encouraged me when I was going through culture stress. He gently corrected me when I was wrong and helped me smile when I needed to laugh.

Bill loved his family. Lyn and their sons Steve and Tim were the delight of his life. Bill loved the Filipinos and trained so many of them to reach their fellow countrymen with the gospel. But most importantly, Bill loved the Lord Jesus. I believe that the Lord stood and welcomed him home and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

If it were possible to make heaven a more cheerful place, I know that Bill could do that.
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Jacobs is director of institutional effectiveness and institutional research at Criswell College in Dallas and a member of the faculty as associate professor of counseling and biblical studies.