This is a photo of the graduating class of Northeast School of Biblical Studies, 1979. The graduates and their spouses are, from left to right: Bill Johnson and his wife faye, Bob Doolen and his wife Penny, Jack Birckholtz and his wife Brenda and lastly, myself and my Linda. I have been thinking a lot about those days, as the two years I spent at the school were unquestionably the best two of my entire life!!!! I received a phone call this week that saddened me greatly. Bill Johnson died. His most fervent wish was to go to heaven and from what I know about him; he is there. The death of a Christian is a mixed bag, as the loss of someone who loves the Lord is difficult for us, but a victory for them. And so, I find myself grieving for both loss and victory. As I awoke this morning, my thoughts were of the book of Ecclesiastes....
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men, and the living should take this to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the face the heart is made good. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
To the best of my knowledge, the following is true.... Bill was cast out from his birth family when he became a Christian. A Christian family took him in and raised him. During his youth, he was a very active an enthusiastic follower of Christ. At the school of preaching, he was my friend and a good student. After graduation, he went back to New York City and together with his wife, started a church in the inner city that continues to this day (his son is currently in the pulpit). He continued his education until he obtained a doctorate. He was a staunch conservative and fought against those who would change "the old paths"!!! He was faithful until the day of his death. He is survived by his wife faye and his son Bill. I loved him. His passing has hit me hard, but I rejoice for his victory!!! To those who read this... the death of a friend can be a good thing-- if it causes you to reflect upon your own life and grow closer to God as a result!!!!