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.”
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”