There will only be one frugal Scot named Bill Dickson. More than most, Bill lived a life of unique passion and courage leaving his own special mark on us all.
Bill will be well remembered for his particular idiosyncrasies. Typically, he would give me a fun, formal greeting when we would see each other, like “Good Day, Sir”. I loved responding with something like, “Good Morning, Good Sir”, and as soon as I called him good, he would reply with “There is no one good except one” This is just a touch of his humor and style. Often times, his personality was grating – he could talk too long or off subject for the social context or the work being done. It is not always easy being with someone with such a strong personality, but the times were special and something which were uniquely Bill.
Secondly, Bill will be remembered for his mercy. Bill was a man who helped out so many people, sometimes at the determinant of his family life. He would leave the front garden unfinished, but rush off to help an elderly widow with a home issue or join a work gang of fellow Presbyterian’s. He spent endless hours with children, teaching them new skills in electronics and making them feel special. In particular, he would continually put pieces of hardware on the side for Eli Farney and help him with specific problems. One day, my daughter came to GMI and Bill immediately put her to work as a cable tester. She will always remember him this way – the kindly man who found something which she could do to help and took the time out of a busy day to teach her this skill. He was known for training people throughout the world and helping out the new interns as they passed through GMI. Personally, I felt his mercy in a great way. More than anyone, Bill would check in with me on how my family was doing and managing my hectic work schedule. My situation seemed to be ever present in his mind which gave me great comfort.
As I said, he was a man of great passion and courage. To be a US based missionary living through donations is very difficult. It is extremely hard to understand how difficult this is until you actually live it. For Bill, he had a constant reminder of how dependent he AND THE FAMILY HE LOVED were dependent upon the good graces of others for their daily bread. I wonder how many times Bill and Linda wondered if this was really worth it. Bill had to be so strong (I’m sure many people thought stubborn!) Yet, this is who God made him to be and he was true to his good, good Father.
I didn’t meet Bill until six years ago, after Mike O’Rear died. I cannot imagine how horrible and hard this was. Bill lost a friend, felt the need to help the O’Rear’s in any way, while having to run a ministry who was not prepared for this setback. The fact that the O’Rear’s began to thrive again says much of who they are, but also about the support they received in prayer and materially from the Dickson’s. In my limited viewpoint, this was the beginning of some very difficult times for Bill.
See, Bill and the rest of the board members decided to give over the leadership of this ministry that Mike and he had built to someone new to take it in new directions in the hope that it would flourish. He supported the move, but over time many of the decisions made for the sake of the ministry were not the same as Mike and Bill may have made. One of the hardest things for a man to give up is to give the work of his years to another person. Bill handled it mightily, but there were decisions which were slowly rusting out his core.
Finally, this is what I will remember about Bill – the great grace which God gave him to push through those last years of GMI. In those times when he was unintentionally hurt, he was able to run to the cross and find God’s immense arms to hide in. There are some days, I don’t know how he did it, but he did.
You know, one of his biggest regrets was that when he got married that he was able to do all of overseas missionary trips while Linda stayed home. Before they were married, Linda had been the world traveler. How he was looking forward to spending more time going overseas with her and seeing her gifts being used. Linda, I want you to know that everything is known in heaven. You need to still do those trips and he will see them and experience them with you in a special way (that is if he isn’t too busy worshipping Jesus).
Both Mike and Bill died unexpectedly. I don’t understand why God took Bill at the time that GMI closed because I saw a great future for him at LightSys. I guess his memory will always be linked with that great mission agency and his future is for Kathy and Loren to live out.
When I heard that he died in a car accident hitting a tree, I immediately thought of Rich Mullins. I believe Bill had a great respect for Rich and discussed his death with an intern at a one time. They died the same way and in such an unexpected time. After his death occurred, a simple vision came to me of Balaam and his donkey moving off the path because of the Angel in the way. Well, it feels as if God said Bill’s its time to come to my mansion and his mechanical donkey took him home.
I won’t presume this is what happened, but for such a wonderful man, I can think of no better way to think of his death. Tonight, my cup is full of tears. Tomorrow, I will have one of those little Frosty’s at Wendy’s in his memory. You will be missed, good friend.
“‘If it is for this world only that we have hope, we are of all men most to be pitied’. Sorry that in this fallen world it counts as good news that in order to live to a normal age we seem to have to let go of our minds and bodies bit by bit. May the Lord maintain your joy and sense of humor through the un-fun stuff ahead.”