You had to look into William’s eyes and hear him laugh to know the man. He had clear, penetrating eyes and an infectious laugh. That was the side of William that we saw when he celebrated his 50th birthday party, actually a wake, when all of his invited friends brought baby presents as William was ushered into his “second childhood.” He got back at one couple when he had their picture painted as the American Gothic and presented it to them at a formal function.
SIL members got to know William well when he was hired to work for SIL in 1982. At that time he was living well outside of Moresby, having left the Public Service, praying and contemplating his next step. A woman from his church told him that in her dream he was to work for SIL. He took this seriously, so when I, as the SIL director, came looking for him, William was not surprised.
Over the years at Ukarumpa William often stopped by to visit members. Sometimes they might not know exactly why until a couple of hours later, for William was not a man to come to the point quickly or without deliberation. He understood the problems of a large, predominantly white, organization working in his country and wanted to help SIL be the kind of servant that it claimed to be. Consequently, he never stopped asking questions: probing, consulting, preaching and praying. He would eventually and quietly get to the point, then continue talking more about what was important—the country and people of PNG and how SIL could help them.
William loved to preach and teach and to serve. He taught the symbolic meaning of servanthood when he washed the feet of SIL members at an Easter Camp.
I look forward to someday seeing his penetrating eyes and smile again–and we will both be serving Jesus. .