When Bill died, I went to his home to visit with his wife and daughter. We went to the bedroom to get away from the crowd of friends who had gathered. Bill had a wooden fish on his wall with the message "Wishin' I was Fishin'."
Bill Beaird and his wife, Evelyn, were long-time members of First Baptist Church, Garland, Texas. Evelyn taught a Hispanic Sunday school class for a number of years. She touched many lives as a deacon's wife and led many Hispanic people to faith in Christ.
Bill taught fifth-grade boys in Sunday school for 55 years. His annual goal was that every boy in his class would be saved before he entered sixth grade. Each year, Bill systematically visited in the home and witnessed to every boy in his class. He modeled what it means to be committed to the Bible teaching ministry of the church. He was also involved as an equipper in the church's outreach program, Continuing Witness Training. He never missed being an equipper for any session.
The year before he died, Bill went through a couple of very major surgeries. While he was in the hospital, he was not able to come to church and teach his class. His boys asked their parents to take them to Bill's hospital room so he wouldn't have to miss Sunday school. The following week, Bill was too weak to leave his house for church. His boys asked their parents to make Sunday lunch and take them to Bill's house so he could teach them the lesson. A few weeks later, even though he had not fully regained his strength from surgery, he insisted on serving as a trainer in the next Continuing Witness Training session. He never missed a Sunday going out to visit and teach his apprentices how to share their faith.
Bill was the kind of deacon every pastor wishes for. He and his wife were true friends to the pastor. They gave sacrificially, served unselfishly, and witnessed constantly. Bill was devoted to his wife and family. Even after more than fifty years of marriage, he never failed to walk beside her and treat her with the greatest respect. He paid undivided attention when she spoke. When I look over the qualifications of a deacon in 1 Timothy 3, Bill stands out as a man who fits the description as well as any man can. When the Scripture says in 1 Timothy 3:13, Those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves, and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus, it described Bill and Evelyn Beaird.
Bill Beaird went home to be with the Lord in 2002. When I stepped into the bedroom, underneath his "Wishin' I was Fishin'" sign was an old, wooden tackle box. His wife told me to look in the tackle box. It was not filled with lures, reels, lines, or weights. Instead it was filled with his witnessing materials, including a prayer journal. In that journal, Bill had written the name of every boy he had taught, the date of their conversion, and bits and pieces about what they had done since they had left his fifth grade class. It brought home to me a much deeper—and more biblical—understanding of the sign on the wall.
May we catch his heart . . . and the heart of our Lord. "Wishin' I was Fishin' . . . for the lost."