My brother Bill Shoemaker loved to teach the truth found in scripture. This past Friday, Bill taught us one last lesson from James 4:13-14, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
We truly don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or even today for that matter, but we do know that life is precious and often too short. Last Friday morning, at our daily prayer time, my brother Bill was lying down on the floor measuring between two coworkers to ensure that they were maintaining six feet of social distance (it’s now a fond memory of Bill’s playful and goofy side). Friday afternoon, while helping some friends load up their moving truck, Bill suffered a heart attack. Friday evening, after developing complications following surgery, our dear brother left this world and entered in to the presence of the Lord Jesus whom he loved so dearly and served so faithfully.
Bill was a church planter, mentor, evangelist, networker, volunteer police chaplain, father, brother, husband, grandfather and friend. Over the past several days it’s been humbling and comforting to get a small glimpse of the impact of his life and ministry. Bill came to the CGGC family in 1998 when he and Candice planted the CrossPoint Church in Findlay. Bill left CrossPoint (now Connections Church) in 2009 to become the Great Lakes Conference Field Director for Church Planting. During that season, in addition to his work as a field director, Bill served as the interim pastor at the Catalyst Church (a daughter church of CrossPoint here in Findlay) and the Barkeyville Church of God (ARC). Bill’s work as a field director for church planting was a shared position between the General Conference and the Great Lakes Conference for several years. In 2015, Bill came on with the General Conference full-time as the director of new churches and finally, as director of mobilizing disciples.
I’ve thought a lot about my friend Bill this week. I thought I’d share a couple of my observations of my dear brother.
If I had to summarize Bill’s life, it would be that he loved Jesus and he loved people. You didn’t have to spend much time with Bill to see those core values of loving Jesus and loving others. Bill was crazy about people. He loved meeting people, he loved interacting with people, he loved hearing others’ stories and having conversations that would help point them to Jesus. Bill had shared with some of us recently about his own journey to faith – he wasn’t raised in Christian faith and when he met Jesus and experienced His love and His grace, Bill never looked back. Meeting Jesus changed and transformed his life and you didn’t have to be around Bill very long before you heard about his love for Jesus. His love for others was obvious in his curiosity – he loved meeting people and hearing their stories. His love for people was demonstrated in his generosity. Lots of folks this week told stories of Bill showing up with food to share: bags of meat from Miller’s Meats, vegetables from his garden, extra groceries, a box of donuts or a fistful of candy. His love of others was evident in his service – Bill was always helping someone. Whether it was through his time and conversation, helping others with a project, or any number of ways, Bill was always serving others, coming alongside others and helping them in whatever way he could. It was fitting that his last afternoon on earth was spent helping someone else.
Bill was passionate about the priesthood of all believers. He was committed to seeing all of God’s people mobilized into ministry, not just a special few. He was passionate about helping others discover whatever gifts and callings God had placed in them and equipping them to serve and use their gifts. Some of you now use the language of ministry partners rather than “volunteers” because of Bill’s influence and passion about the idea that all of us are ministers of the Gospel. There are no professionals and volunteers in the kingdom of God – we’re all ministry partners.
Bill was an investor in people. Bill was always investing deeply in a few people – over the course of a lifetime those investments have resulted in quite a crowd that would refer to Bill as their mentor, coach, advisor or spiritual father. Throughout this past week, story after story emerged of folks across the CGGC and beyond who would share comments like, “Bill always made time for me and invested in me, he pushed me, challenged me, taught me, and encouraged me.” It’s just another way which showed his genuine love for others by investing deeply in them and sharing his life with them.
Bill’s last post on social media came about a week before his passing: “Reminded this morning in devotions: ‘There is more Grace in our Father than there is sin in you.’ Get up and stand on your feet and follow Jesus more closely. Good news for everyone, especially me.” Bill believed this and the way he lived further demonstrated that belief.
My friend finished well last week. Thanks for all your prayers for Candice and their family. Thanks for all your prayers and words of comfort for our team here at the General Conference office.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 14, No. 24