Ministry to Children

In the late 1970’s I was at Bible College and was unimpressed to learn that a whole week would be devoted to kids ministry. As an educated adult, keen to engage the grown-up minds of my audiences, I thought the week would be a low point in the course.

I was so impacted by that week that the short study on Kids Ministry probably had the most lasting impact of anything I learned that year.

Hidden Congregation

It was pointed out to us that most ministers ignore the children in their congregation. Children are easily discounted, taken for granted and overlooked for various reasons. They are less mature than their parents. They don’t have any money to put in the offering. They can’t run programs or plan next year’s budget.

Children are also given to shuffling and wriggling, mumbling and giggling.

Yet these overlooked members of the church community are truly a hidden congregation. They are listening and being impacted by their experiences in the congregation and the life of the church.

Life Long Decisions

The youngsters who run down the corridor or footpaths around the church are complete individuals, despite their youthfulness. They are quite capable of making lasting decisions, while you dismiss them or speak to them in your condescending (“You aren’t really a very important person”) tone.

I was told back in the 1970’s that some 60% or so of people on the mission field had decided to be missionaries while they were young children, sitting in church, hearing the Bible readings, listening to the sermon and so on.

That doesn’t mean that every child who decided to be a missionary actually followed through. But it does mean that a life of Christian service can often be traced back to decisions made when others around that child probably didn’t take them seriously.

Sadly, some children decide when they are young that the church is irrelevant to them, or that they don’t want to identify with the values and attitudes they encounter in the local church. Many people are still living out those early decisions, a lifetime later.

Reaching the Children

We were all encouraged to take a second look at the children in our meetings. We were challenged to stop seeing them as the irrelevant ones, who can’t drive or help fund the meetings, but to see them as the vital lives which need to be reached and directed toward a life of Christian commitment.

That challenge presented some problems for me. Firstly, I could not remember their names. It was going to be a discipline to actually remember which of the nippers was which. I had to remember which one had the cat and which had the dog, and which was in this grade and which was in that.

I then had to take the time to connect with the children, shaking their hand, asking them a question, taking interest in the bandage on their arm, and so on.

On Their Level

I found I could connect best when I put myself on the child’s level. That meant crouching down or kneeling while I talked with them. By taking the effort to get on their level I dissolved some of my own internal sense of being in a different world, at a different level.

In the decades since I often crouched to talk with a child, sat beside them to listen to them, asked them for their version of an event even though the parents had already told me the details, and so on.

My intention is to give honour to the child, rather than dishonouring them by being dismissive about who they are and what they think.

Learning to Listen

The next huge lesson for me was learning to listen. That same year, while on a ministry practicum, I heard a presentation about “listening”. Once again I did not think I needed to hear the lesson, but it challenged me deeply.

I was far more ready to talk than listen. My listening was often simply measuring the right time to jump back in and say my piece. I had much to learn about listening.

So now, when I talk to children and adults, I seek to give them the honour of my full attention as they tell me something. While I am often distracted by people who want to catch my eye or interrupt, I try to always get back to where we left off so the child knows I was not only listening, but interested in what they had to say.

Be Real

Another lesson I value when dealing with children is to be real with them. They are little adults, taking stock of the world as they see it and making life long decisions as a consequence. With that in mind, children want to know what is really going on. They need a clear picture of the reality they encounter.

I think of the mother whose child complained that a sibling had a larger share of something. The mother simply turned to the child and advised, “That’s life! Get used to it!”

Now that response doesn’t excuse neglect or abuse, rejection or other offences, but it is a dose of reality. People lie. Others are bullies. Some cheat and steal. Some want to spoil your fun. Knowing that gives you better hope of navigating life than ignoring those realities.

Spiritual Truth

Along with the idea of being real, using Spiritual Truth releases power into a child’s life. Jesus Christ told us that when we know Truth the truth will liberate us from the inside out.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

So don’t be afraid to tell children about spiritual realities, such as how sin enslaves, how the enemy seeks to deceive and trap them, and how suffering creates positive qualities in our life. Those ugly truths happen to be Truths. If you tell children something else then you are lying to them, or keeping them in ignorance about the very things they have to face in life.

Look at how Jesus did this Himself. He told His followers an ugly truth, that they would suffer persecution. But He immediately followed that by a wonderful, truthful reassurance, that Jesus has power over all things.

“These things I told you so you will have peace in me. In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Sowing Seeds

Another aspect of ministering to children that I see as very important is to sow godly seeds into their lives. The Bible is living seed (1Peter 1:23) so helping them listen to, memorise, think about and apply Bible truth helps wonderful seed take root in their life.

Other great seeds are seeds of faith and encouragement. Seeds of hope, peace, joy and love can bring beautiful harvests in children’s lives.

You can tell a child things like: “I am confident God has a great plan for your life”; “I know that when you work through this challenge you are going to be very strong”; “The fact that God has allowed you to face such challenges now means He has some important things for you to be prepared for in the future”; “God has made you unique, and even though others won’t always appreciate that you are special, God is very pleased with what He created. So make sure you stay close to God and fulfil the unique purpose He has for your life.”

Multiply Your Impact

If you will learn to reach children in an effective way you will multiply your impact, not just on them, but on the families they raise in the future and the people they impact along the way.

If you stick to just ministering to adults you will miss a powerful means of multiplying your effectiveness and impact for God’s Kingdom.

Character and Values

I spoke recently to High School and Uni Students on the topic of Kingdom Culture. Christians live “in the world” but are not “of the world”. Yet they are impacted by and pressured into the culture of the world. That is why care needs to be taken to understand and to live by the culture of God’s Kingdom – Kingdom Culture.

Seek the Kingdom

Jesus Christ told us directly that we are to seek God’s Kingdom and not to be distracted by the things that the people in the world are distracted by.

“Take no thought, saying, What will we eat? or, What will we drink? or, How will we be clothed? (For these are the things the Heathen seek) for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33 (Jesus Christ)

God is King

While the idea of the “kingdom of God” sounds somewhat old fashioned it simply means that God is King. You Seek the Kingdom of God when you make God your King. In the Kingdom of God, God is King and God’s Will Wins.

To seek the Kingdom of God we seek to have God rule over our own lives, including our lifestyle, values, attitudes, thoughts, decisions, disciplines, and so on. Once God’s rule is clear in our own lives we can then be led by Him to establish His kingship in other areas where we have influence or impact.

Kingdom Culture

The Culture of God’s Kingdom involves three areas to look at. They are the cultural values that reflect God, such as Love, Faith, Holiness, Selflessness, Joy, Humility, Peace, Forgiveness and such like.

It also involves Living by God’s Standards as revealed in God’s Word (the Bible) and Christ’s Teachings.

And it also involves the need to be Unpolluted by Compromise, so we remain Separate from the World and Sin.

Character and Values

Kingdom Culture can be described in terms of your “character” and your “values”. These two things are separate and yet related.

Character looks at HOW you Live your Life, or, in other words, What you are Living BY.

Values look at WHY you Live your Life, or, What you are Living FOR.

Godly Culture involves you living the right way, living by the right things, but also living for the right reasons and objectives.

Character

Looking more closely at Character, remember that it is all about HOW you Live and What you live BY.

The way you live your life could reflect such things as: Greed, Selfishness, Opportunism, Discipline, Sensuality, Pride, Jealousy, Spite, Love, Humility, Faithfulness, Impatience, Anger, Violence, Patience, Self-Control, Laziness, Insecurity, Fear, Self-Determination, Self-Importance or many other character qualities.

Character describes How you travel through life, the mood you are in, the way you respond to challenges, and the tone of your lifestyle.

Values

Looking more closely at Values, remember that it is all about WHY you Live and What you live FOR.

What you are living for could be centred on such things as: Money, Fame, Pleasure, Revenge, Impressing Others, Serving Others, Holiness, Glorifying God, Career, Self-Fulfilment, Leisure, Getting Ahead of Others, Doing your Best, Being Respected, Getting Your Own Way or one or more of many other things.

Values describe Why you travel through life, what motivates you, what satisfies you, and what keeps you going.

Right Character and Right Values

It is possible to have good character, knowing how to do things the right way, but having wrong values. You could be very disciplined, respectful, sacrificial, wise and faithful, but use those good character qualities to serve your lust for success, fame, importance, revenge, or other wrong motivation.

In that case you would have good character but bad values.

Alternatively, it is possible to be sold out to serving God, blessing others, building God’s Kingdom and showing respect to your leaders, but to have such poor personal discipline that you are totally unreliable and unable to effect the things you want to do. You could be too lazy and undisciplined in mind to read God’s word, pray for any length of time, remember your commitments, and so on.

In that case you would have good values but poor character.

That case is reflected in Jesus’ disappointment with the disciples on the night Jesus was betrayed. Jesus saw that their spirit was willing (the right values and motives) but their flesh was weak (poor character to follow through on their good intentions).

Serving the King

A good servant of the King needs to have good character and good values.

You cannot be lazy or selfish, and you cannot be a thief or a liar. You need to be trained to be hard working, faithful, diligent, attentive, denying yourself and so on, and to use those disciplines of character for the right reasons.

How do you stand in terms of Character and Values?

Maybe you need to allow God to invade your life and to train you in godly character and godly values. Maybe you need to ask Him to do that, so you can be a good soldier of the Cross.

Entering The Kingdom

In my travels I have often seen signs that say “You are now entering…” such and such a place. So, imagine a sign that advised you “You are now entering The Kingdom of God!”

When you enter a new country you often notice physical and social differences. These can be quite striking. Back in 2005 I travelled by bus from Macedonia into Kosovo. At that time Kosovo was under UN control. Macedonia was a former communist state which had no revolution to oust the communist system. As a result the old guard simply changed their name and tried to live by a free market system.

However the air of oppression in Macedonia was obvious. Our bus driver upset one of the police at a checkpoint and so we were detained for 40 minutes while he was stuck in an office getting a stern lecture. The air of unbridled authority and punitive treatment was striking. The place felt like a police state.

Once we crossed into Kosovo the very air seemed brighter. The driver opened a box of chocolates and shared them with the passengers. There was celebration in the air, even though there had been killings in the town of Ferijai where I was bound.

Kingdom of God

Imagine entering the Kingdom of God! What would the atmosphere be like there? How striking would be the difference in culture and atmosphere as you crossed the border!

And just as you must cross a border or go through some entrance to move to a new country or a new place or area, you also need to ‘enter’ God’s Kingdom.

But God’s Kingdom is not a physical place. It is something that you enter into independently of your physical location. You enter the Kingdom by faith. So, you end up as a dual-citizen. You have an earthly nationality and place, but you also have heavenly citizenship.

Your citizenship in the Kingdom of God is far more valuable and far more significant to your existence than any earthly citizenship you can possess.

Excursions

Because Christians have a dual citizenship, living in the world, but not being of the world, each one determines the degree to which they enter the Kingdom.

Some people have heavenly citizenship but hardly ever explore their new kingdom. They stay in the constraints of the world system in which they live. They remain bound by the prince of this world, controlled by his manipulation of the culture and his intimidation of Christians.

Yet others make occasional excursions into the Kingdom of God, in a similar way to taking a vacation. They see the Kingdom as very wonderful, but not the place to stay if you need to earn an income, raise a family, build your career, grow an investment base, have a vibrant social life, and imbibe all the treats this world has to offer.

Many Christians, therefore, end up with little knowledge of the land of their citizenship: God’s Kingdom. They read about it, in the way people flip through holiday brochures. They learn about it and can tell others about the delights of being there. However, they themselves are seldom caught in God’s Kingdom.

Kingdom at Hand

Jesus Christ brought the Kingdom of God into close proximity to man. He did that by bringing the grace of God, the spiritual riches that are ours from God, to people on earth. The Kingdom is no mere sentimental concept or tales of “pie in the sky when you die”. Instead, the Kingdom of God has immediate and tangible impact on people’s lives, including physical healing and release from demonic control.

Jesus sent His disciples to heal the sick as an expression of the Kingdom. And He said that by casting devils out of people He was bringing the Kingdom of God close to people.

“Heal the sick there and say to them, The kingdom of God is come close to you.” Luke 10:9

“If I cast out devils with the finger of God, no doubt the kingdom of God is come to you.” Luke 11:20

The connection between God’s Kingdom and tangible impact in people’s lives was well summarised by the Apostle Paul. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” 1Corinthians 4:20

Close Encounters

Most Christians today shy away from the Kingdom of God, by shying away from the Power of God at work in their life. It’s like people going into a restaurant and inspecting the meals. They even sniff the aroma and think how wonderful it would be to enjoy the food. Then they walk out, not having eaten anything.

Christians know all about Jesus and the disciples healing the sick and casting out demons. They know those things were commonplace in the early church, at the hands or ordinary Christians, as Jesus promised. They love the idea of such power and grace. They sing about it and make sure their children learn all about it. But they never expect the Kingdom of God to have tangible impact in or near them.

That is why Christians make short excursions into the Kingdom, having close encounters from time to time, but quickly withdrawing to the safety of that which is familiar to them. However, what is familiar and comfortable to them is not the Kingdom of God, where miracles take place around them, but the world, where men live outside of God’s grace and power.

Claiming the Kingdom

Jesus revealed that it is possible for people to interact with the Kingdom of God to different degrees. Some saw the power of God and yet not receive anything from God’s Kingdom, because various things kept them from going to or believing in Jesus. Others came to Jesus with their specific requests, and Jesus answered them, with healing, deliverance and the like.

Yet others, Jesus taught, were so determined to get the benefits of the Kingdom of God that they virtually stormed the Kingdom, taking it by force.

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence (is pressed upon), and the violent (determined) take it by force.” Matthew 11:12

Each individual Christian has a different level of engagement with God’s Kingdom. Those who are determined to claim the Kingdom get the most out of it.

Will Ye Enter

Have you entered the Kingdom of God? Do you live there, or just visit from time to time?

Have you pressed in to claim all the wonder and power of God’s Kingdom, or are you just content to take a few photographs of the nice scenery?

What is it that keeps drawing you out of the Kingdom, back into the realm where unregenerate people who know nothing of God’s love, power and grace feel comfortable? Why do you so cherish that realm? What hold does it have over you? Why do you not love and hunger for all the power and reality of God’s Kingdom?

Will you enter God’s Kingdom? Will you remain there, pressing in for all that God has for you?

Tribute to Barbara Joan Wilson

Friends of Clifford and Barbara Wilson are saddened to hear that Barbara passed away on June 3, 2010, at 8.10pm, in Epworth Eastern Hospital, in Box Hill, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

For many months Barbara bravely met the challenge of cancer which she had confronted in the past. However less than 2 weeks before her passing she and Clifford decided they would not continue with chemo and other medical interventions, since those seemed to be ineffective.

Many dear friends assisted and supported Barbara and Clifford through this challenging time. Their church community, Canterbury Gardens Community Church, assisted in getting Clifford to and from the hospital each day. People kept them both in prayer and longed to see Barbara win through again.

Every day Clifford was at Barbara’s side, encouraging her in those moments when she was conscious. She slept much over the past few days.

Clifford and Barbara are known to tens of thousands around the world, through their radio broadcasts on archaeology and Bible truth, through their many books and through their extensive travels, including tours of the Holy Land and ministry in churches big and small in several nations, and the USA in particular.

Barbara has been a loving and devoted ‘help meet’ to Clifford, wisely recommended to be his wife by Clifford’s first wife, Avis, as she faced her own imminent death in the mid 1980’s. Barbara, with a missionary nursing background in Ecuador, has always had a heart to serve the Lord. She laboured tirelessly and patiently, keeping pace with her husband’s insatiable desire to get the word out to people.

Barbara was at one time Dean of Students at the Bible College of Victoria, has written, spoken and traveled the world, engaging in archaeology and publishing alongside her husband. In recent years she has been actively involved with Australia’s New Life Christian Newspaper, where she has Edited, researched, written, typed for Clifford, and met the deadlines of a regular print publication.

Barbara is loved by all. She displayed such gentle patience and willingness to serve that she shines as a glowing example of one who gave her life for others and for God’s Kingdom. She was never afraid to learn and take on new challenges, and Clifford’s creativity prompted plenty of those.

FOLLOWING ARE NOTES FROM THE FUNERAL SERVICE June 9, 2010.

Tribute to Barbara Wilson
Barbara Joan Wilson, April 25, 1937 – June 3, 2010
Having just returned from the memorial service for Barbara Wilson at the church where she and Clifford attended for the past seven years, Canterbury Gardens Community Church (Brethren assembly) in Kilsyth, my heart is filled with renewed respect and wonder for the lovely woman of God we were privileged to know.
My rambling thoughts snatch from various memories and tributes given by family and friends those bits that seemed to stand out to my attention.
Note that Barbara was born on Anzac Day (a day when Aussies remember the wartime sacrifice of men and women soldiers).
Pa Baddeley, Barbara’s dad, was a man of God who raised his two daughters, Barbara being the eldest, in a remarkable way. Both girls received a good measure of confidence, resourcefulness, grace and faith, qualities which Barbara displayed through almost 74 years of Christian witness and a life of service. In later years, as a widower living in the care of his successful daughter Barbara as she made her enormous investment in the daily life of the Bible College of Victoria (BCV) in Lilydale, Pa Baddeley encouraged other parents in their raising of godly children. His own credentials were clearly evident in the maturity and stability of his daughters.
Raised in Geelong, west of Melbourne, Barbara proved herself to be a woman of intelligence with high academic capacities and a clear and incisive mind and quick wit. Academic accolades followed her from her school days, through her nursing training and even in a counselling course she completed past her half century. She was often dux of her class and won scholarships and honours for her high achievements.
Yet Barbara did not take her personal talents as gifts to be used for personal aggrandizement or financial and material comfort. Instead she embraced a life of service to others, seeking to minister the love of God and truth of the gospel, rather than pander to her own earthly comforts.
That commitment to serve saw her training for missionary service and heading to Quito Ecuador, where she headed up two hospital facilities for the HCJB radio ministry. Preparation also included learning Spanish.
I should pause to note that one of Barbara’s lecturers at Melbourne Bible Institute, as she prepared for ministry, was a Dr Clifford Wilson. Clifford and his wife, Avis, held Barbara in high regard, recognising her natural talents and her heart to serve the Lord.
For a dozen years Barbara poured herself into the indigenous patients of the high Andes Mountains, using her resourcefulness, dedication, intelligence and care for others on a daily basis. All who knew her respected her and life-long friendships followed those well spent years.
Rigours of the altitude took a toll on Barbara’s spine and she had to return to Melbourne for surgery. Her doctor advised that she could not return to the high altitude environment, closing the door on her successful ministry there. However, on the very same day Barbara was given that unhappy advice she was asked by the then head of Melbourne Bible Institute to take on a position as Dean of Women Students. Thus began twenty years of investment into the lives of men and women who felt God’s call upon their lives.
Barbara Baddeley became Dean of Students, and functioned in many practical roles, including lecturer. MBI became BCV and Barbara had her own residence on the campus, where she cared for her aging father, Pa Baddeley, after her mother passed away. People who reflect on those years recognise that Barbara was the energetic lifeblood of BCV is so many ways. It is hard for some to imagine how BCV could have functioned without the ever present and highly effective input of Barbara.
During those years in academia Barbara extended her connection with the Wilson household. Clifford Wilson continued to lecture at the college. Barbara and Avis built upon their friendship. And Clifford and Avis’ son, Dr David Wilson, himself an academic, became a professional colleague, as he headed up another Christian college.
When Avis faced imminent death from her battle with cancer she spoke with Clifford and suggested that Barbara would make an excellent wife for Clifford after Avis’ passing. Avis knew very well how her husband needed a very capable ‘help meet’ to enable him to achieve the many things his own talents suited him to.
After Avis passed away, Clifford spoke with Barbara about Avis’ suggestion. Barbara recoiled from the thought, saying “I have never thought of you like that.” To Barbara, Clifford was the revered academic, archaeologist and man of God who she had been privileged to learn from and work with. Approaching the end of her sixth decade she may well have given up any thought of being a married woman.
Some time later, however, Barbara contacted Clifford and advised him that she had caught a sense for what it would be to have her head on his shoulder. She believed the Lord was directing her to become Clifford’s wife. And so her whole life direction took yet another major turn.
Dr David Wilson officiated at his father’s wedding, joining Clifford and Barbara as husband and wife. He jokingly tells that he married his father. David’s earliest memory of Barbara was when he was eight years old. She would wrestle with him on her visits to the family home. Even way back then, David recalls, he thought of her as a remarkably gracious woman.


The fourteen years of marriage gave Barbara ample opportunity to use her administrative skills, public speaking, analytical thinking, abilities to write, ability to learn new things, public relations skills, and her caring, faith, Bible knowledge and patience, as the pair travelled the world, researched, wrote, taught, preached, shared and cared.
Despite her back troubles and operation after Ecuador and an earlier bout with breast cancer, Barbara kept good health. However, she saw that her own comforts were secondary to her calling in life, and so she may well have borne more discomfort than people realised, since she was not given to complaining or demanding her own wellbeing.
When evidence emerged that secondary cancer was present in her body Barbara pressed on at full speed, undaunted and willing to leave things in God’s hands.

The overwhelming commentary on Barbara’s life and contribution is that she was a woman of immense grace, able to be gracious in all circumstances, unafraid, untroubled, willing to trust God, and completely unselfish in her generosity to others and willingness to go the second and third mile, way beyond the normal call of duty.
People tended to naturally revere her and to always feel that time spent with Barbara enriched them. People felt that it was their privilege to know her and to be appreciated by her. She had a way of pouring grace onto others and letting them feel appreciated and blessed.
She was always willing to trust God, including for the ongoing financial challenges that characterised her married life. She and Clifford often needed God to come through for this or that, and each time He did. Barbara’s quiet confidence in God always shone through.

Barbara’s sister, Heather, writes …
To me she was my big sister, I one I looked up to. She was always that example of what a Christian should be, walking the walk and talking the talk, never condemning, not always condoning, but always available to talk to, give advice (even if I didn’t like it) and then love me through whatever it was at the time.
[Clifford notes that Barbara mentored younger sister Heather in the Christian faith. Heather may have been Barbara’s first disciple.]
In everything she did there is one word that describes her – SELFLESS!
Her love and obedience were to her Lord. All she did was to bring glory to Him first and to help others without a song and dance. This is a significant quality of her whole life’s achievements.
From being head prefect at High School in Geelong, to nursing, top nurse overall, winning the Dr McPhee prize for excellence at Geelong Hospital where she trained, doing midwifery at Melbourne Women’s Hospital and receiving a gold medal for achievement there, then two years of study at MBI in preparation for her time in Quito, Ecuador as a missionary nurse, having to learn Spanish in Costa Rica before getting to Quito, returning to BCV but this time not as a student but as a lecturer and Dean of Students.
Then her looking after dad after mum passed away. Then marrying Cliff. We celebrate the life of one who we loved deeply.
“Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.” Matthew 25:21.
One card that we received says… “Our loved one touched many hearts and lives and although it is hard to imagine the world without her it is easy to imagine heaven rejoicing because she is there.”
Thank you God for giving us Barb til you took her home.
Gracious in death as she was in life.

Barbara’s Friend, Flo Sinclair, wife of Ian Sinclair, pastor of the church where Barbara & Clifford have attended for the past 7 years or so, shared these lovely reflections …

Tribute to Barbara Wilson by Flo Sinclair
Cliff, thank you for the opportunity to share a few words about my friendship with Barb.  When Ian came home and said you wanted me to do this I was at first dismayed as I wondered how I could do justice to such a task – of course, I can’t, so I will just say what is on my heart.
I first remember meeting Barb at BCV about 20 years ago and was a bit in awe of her – her sharp intellect, her obvious knowledge of the Scripture, her many abilities.  Then about 7 years ago when Cliff & Barb began attending this church we got to know them a little better.  We tried to support them when Barb was diagnosed with cancer and then undergoing treatment.  Just before Barb knew she had secondary cancer we had a lovely conversation about friendship with its many facets and I confessed I had been in awe of her somewhat.  In her very Barb-way she quickly discounted that and said how precious she found our friendship which I found very humbling.
Everyone has heard the expression “God only knows!” often spoken with sarcasm or frustration and probably the person saying it doesn’t know who they are talking about. Ringing in my ears whenever I think of the time when Barb knew she had a battle on her hands with her health is her expression “The Lord Knows”.  She said this often and with such confidence and Fran and I talked about it one day as she had noticed it too as I’m sure many others did.  I got to thinking about this over the last few months and realised how well she knew and loved and trusted her God.  She had such knowledge of Him from her study of His Word, but it was much more than this – it was putting faith to this knowledge that gave her such confidence that no matter what, God was who He said He was and nothing could change that.  As a nurse herself she knew better than most what was ahead of her if God chose not to heal her on this earth and she had total acceptance of that.  Her only care was for Cliff – she really hated to think of him having to cope without her.
About six weeks ago I had a lovely half hour with her one morning at Epworth when I was there for tests.  I would often poke my head in the door and just say “feel like a chat?” and she would nod and invite me in.  Some days we would talk and talk and others I would just sit and she would hold my hand and we would pray together.  When I told her how much I admired her strength of character and faith in God she started saying how far short she was of God’s standard and how she felt she let Him down.  So I said “Barb, of course you have let Him down at times, but remember He will never let you down because He can’t”.  With tears she thanked me for reminding her of this. As if she didn’t already know this fact, but it just goes to show that at times of weakness we need each other. I then started to laugh.  She looked a bit puzzled and I said “Oh Barb, I feel like I’m taking ice to an Eskimo!”  she knew what I meant and had a good chuckle too.
My last visit to Barb was last Wednesday in the late afternoon.  Cliff had asked me to come in and I was glad I did.  He left the room and I had 20 minutes of precious time on my own with her.  I held her hand and she would squeeze my hand when she wanted to tell me she knew what I was saying. After praying with her and thanking her for her love and friendship I said I should go but she just held my hand tighter so I stayed.  I didn’t talk anymore, I had said goodbye, so just let the peace of the Lord’s presence in that room wash over us. Heaven felt very near. As I looked at her face I thought of how beautiful she looked – and I could only think it was the beauty of holiness – her quiet steadfast confidence in our God and her great love for Him was what created such beauty. I thought of how, though she was a very strong woman in character, she also had that “gentle and quiet spirit” that is so precious to God.  I thought of how her dealing with her long battle with cancer was the best sermon she could have preached.  I thought of how I would miss her wise and gentle counsel and felt that for many people our lives would be the poorer for her going.  But I can only say thank you to God for allowing me this friendship with such a special lady and I look forward to seeing her again in Heaven.

Ian Sinclair has graciously supplied the following notes from his leading of the Thanksgiving Service..

Thanksgiving Service for Barbara Wilson
(9th June 2010, 1.30pm at CGCC)
Introduction & Welcome
Ladies & Gentlemen (and children), I think it is time we made a start. On behalf of Cliff and his family, and Barbara’s sister, Heather and her husband Allen, and members of the Baddeley family, I want to welcome you this afternoon and thank you for attending this Thanksgiving Service for Barbara Wilson – a lovely, courageous, godly and uncomplaining lady who lost her long battle with cancer last Thursday evening.
Flo and I have had the privilege of knowing Barbara for the last 7 years since Cliff & Barb started attending our church in 2003. So if Barb’s life could be viewed as a 24 hour day, then we have only got to know her during her last 2 hours and 18 minutes. Now there are many people here today who have known Barb in different ways for much, much longer than we have, and some will be presenting tributes to her during the service.
It is important at this stage, on behalf of Cliff, to sincerely thank the Pastoral Care team at our church, as well as those who have been able to help Cliff with transport over the many months Barbara was unwell. They know who they are – your kindness has been much appreciated.
In a letter Cliff composed last weekend, he said that Barbara “was a brilliant person, dux of her school, gold medallist as a nurse”, Dean of students and later Dean of Studies at the Melbourne Bible Institute (which became the Bible College of Victoria), and, of course, a wonderful wife and companion for the last 14 years.  Many here today would heartily agree with these comments. Indeed, she has been a blessing, an example and an encouragement to many people over the years. She will be greatly missed. But, throughout her life, Barbara served and worshipped God, and I am certain that she would not want this service to just focus on her, but on her Lord and Saviour – that He will be honoured and glorified. We can take comfort in knowing that, even now, Barbara is in God’s presence, and that her time of pain and suffering has passed forever!
Before we sing our opening hymn, which, by the way, was sung at Cliff and Barb’s wedding in 1996, Don McKelvie will lead us in prayer. Thank you Don.

Prayer : Don McKelvie

Hymn: “I have decided to follow Jesus” – stand and sing

Bible Readings: The Bible Readings listed in the Order of Service will be read by Cliff’s older daughter, Elaine, together with a few extra comments by her daughter, Michelle. The second reading will be by Cliff’s younger daughter, Lynette. And the third, from Romans chapter 8, will be read by Lynette’s daughter, Marney.
Could all these ladies please come to the stage together, and take your turn at the microphone. Thank you.

Eulogy: Dr Ted Woods
In 1992 I was privileged to attend an evening course at BCV on Old Testament studies. The lecturer was Dr Ted Woods. I remember him as a very animated person who, at regular intervals during the lectures, when he made a telling point, would add: “I preached a good sermon on this once!” I got the impression that a book of Ted’s good sermons would, at some stage, be available at Koorong Book store. But today, Cliff has asked for Ted, not to preach one of his good sermons, but to present Barbara’s eulogy which I’m sure he will do very well as Ted & Barb served on staff together at BCV for many years. Thank you Ted.

Hymn: “It is well with my soul’
The second hymn we are about to sing was chosen especially in light of the difficult circumstances Barbara and Cliff have faced in recent times. Despite the billowing seas, the many trials and sense of helplessness – because of their Christian faith and their trust in God’s promises, they could say with total confidence, “It is well, it is well with my soul.” Let us now stand and sing this great hymn together.

Tributes: Tributes to Barbara will now be given by the following people:
1.    Barbara’s sister, Heather Lloyd
2.    Barbara’s Cousin, Ernest Wass (pronounced ‘Voss’)
3.    A lovely lady who I know very well, Flo Sinclair
4.    Cliff’s son, Dr David Wilson
So firstly, Heather….

Devotion: Ian Sinclair
In 1 Thess.4:13 we read these words:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”
Let us for a few moments consider what this verse means, because on an occasion such as this it is important that we know. The Apostle Paul was writing to Christians who believed that the Lord Jesus would come again before they died. But some had already died, and others were beginning to doubt their faith. Paul, however, reassures them that, because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, those who die as Christians will live again. To emphasize this he even uses the unusual language of saying that those who had died have only “fallen asleep”. They, because of their faith, will be raised to life – a life that will be eternal, and wonderful, free from pain and sickness and trouble of any kind, a life forever in God’s presence.
But Paul then adds that they should not “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” And it is this part of the verse I want to focus on today.
Paul does not say that Christians were not to grieve. He says they were not to grieve “like the rest of men”. Now there is an important difference. It would be wrong, totally wrong, to say that because we believe in God and  the certainty of the after-life, that we should not grieve for our loved ones who have died. After all, we are human, and God wants us to be honest with Him. We can, and we should express our grief about what has happened, and why it has happened in this case to a lady who, it seems, still had much to offer. Many of us today, particularly those closest to Barbara, are hurting, feeling sad, feeling empty, because she is no longer with us. And we are left to carry on without her.
Well, if that’s how you are feeling, be assured, you are not alone. The shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, to me is one of the most precious. It simply says “Jesus wept”. At the graveside of his friend Lazarus, Jesus openly expressed His grief. We read that He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. At this moment, He was identifying with our humanity and the emotions that we experience.
Feelings of sadness and disappointment at such a time of loss are legitimate. They should not be denied or suppressed. But how do we make sense of them? The answer to the tormenting question “why?”  is contained within the sovereignty of God, and that in a world marred by sin, mankind’s mortality is always evident. God does not promise to shield Christians from all harm or disease, but He does promise to be with us at all times, and to give us His grace – grace to sustain us – grace that will be sufficient for our need. Yet, like everyone else, Christians do suffer pain and disappointment and, in the end, we all die physically.
Using a sporting analogy, in this life, most of us probably think we’re like marathon runners pacing ourselves over a 100 year journey, but quite obviously, this isn’t always the case. Some will only run, as it were, a middle distance race, and, as they look back, then they’ll realize that that was the length of the race they had entered. The psalmist writes in Psalm 139 “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” God knows the length of our race, but we don’t. For Barbara I calculated the length of her race was 26,702 days. That was the number of her days. That was her race. And she ran it well – with great courage and with dignity.
But what about how we run our race? Each of us needs to be a good steward of the time we have on earth, however long that might be, and be ready, at any moment, to break the finishing tape when we, too, will be called to meet our Creator.
So, then, what are we to do? Shrug our shoulders and fatalistically accept our lot? Not at all!  Paul finishes the verse on a very positive note. He says that we should not grieve as other men who have no hope. Yes, we are to grieve because we’re  human. And we are to mourn with those who mourn. But Paul reminds us that, even though we mourn, we have hope. The word ‘hope’ in this sense is not just wishful thinking, or crossing your fingers and toes, hoping that something might happen. The Christian hope is the joyful anticipation of something that will happen and is about to happen. It is absolutely certain, and we are excited at the prospect of it happening!
How do we know this? If we can trust anything in the Bible, we can trust this promise because they are the words of the Lord Jesus Himself. He said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”
Barbara believed this promise, and she is already enjoying the reality of her new existence. The author C.S.Lewis described our present existence as merely the ‘shadowlands’ – they are just like a shadow. The reality, the ultimate reality, is the life to come when we leave behind the shadows of this life, and come into the full sunshine of eternal life – with God forever – and that will be far, far better than the struggles and trials we now encounter. In another one of Paul’s letters he says: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Barbara has already received a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And she has heard from His lips: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant….come, enter into the joy of Thy Lord.”

Let us pray together
“God, our loving heavenly Father, we confess that we have mixed feelings at this very moment. We have feelings of sadness and loss because Barbara is no longer with us. And we miss her. We ask in Your mercy, that you will comfort those who are grieving. For Cliff, and for Heather, and for members of the extended family, we ask Your special blessing. Give them the strength to continue, we pray. For them life will be different and, at times, difficult. Be to them (as You have promised in Your Word) “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”
And yet, in another sense, there are feelings of relief in knowing that Barbara’s suffering is now over. No more pain, no more illness, no more trips to the hospital. Indeed, no more of the limitations that we still face. She is absent from her earthly body, yet gloriously alive in Your presence. For this certain and wonderful promise we give thanks to You, O God.
Now may the love of God the Father, who loves us with a love that will never let us go, and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, so clearly demonstrated in that while we were still sinners He died for us, and the abiding comfort and presence of the Holy Spirit be with us all, this day and forever. Amen.”
Announcements
In a minute we will sing our closing hymn which appropriately focuses on the great God that Barbara trusted and served, but before we do that there are just a few announcements.
1.    During the singing of the hymn, six of Cliff’s grandchildren will be the pallbearers. Please wait until all the family has left the main hall before following them out.
2.    If you have not done so already, please sign the Memorial Book on the table in the foyer as a record of your attendance today.
3.    As mentioned on the back page of the order of service, everyone is invited to stay for afternoon tea which will be served in the room behind you.
4.    Even though the weather is a bit bleak, for those who are intending to come to Lilydale Memorial Park for the committal, please be in your car and ready to leave by 3.20. I will make a further announcement about this at 3.15. It is very important that we leave on time.
So to the closing hymn…..Let us stand and sing…..
Closing Hymn: “How Great Thou Art”