Friends we are gathered here today to celebrate the homegoing of our dear brother Thomas Johnson Wilson, known to all of us here at Grace Baptist Church simply as “Brother Tom.” As I look out at your faces today I see both tears and smiles as we know that our brother will be missed but we rejoice that he is gone from this old world to a place prepared especially for him.
As I think of Tom I remember that he was a gentle man who was dearly loved by his wife of twenty-three years and their eight children. Tom was always cheerful and never in my memory hurt anybody on purpose other than being rather accident prone whenever he was having a bit of a bad day.
Looking from here I can see the familiar faces of some of our local Emergency Room staff who know Tom and his family well since a lot of them ended up there when Tom was in the mood to trip accidentally shove someone through a wall or mistakenly drop a piece of furniture on them. But no matter how bad the injury of the day was, Tom always clung to the Word of God during those trying times and would quote a comforting verse or two when I came to see them in the hospital. And most importantly of all that verse was always from the King James Bible.
Tom was a generous man. He and his family would often sacrifice having nice extras like meat and firewood so that they could give to our church. We used to jokingly refer to him as Tom the Tither around our staff meeting table right before we would pray that God would find a place for his mother to live so that she could get out of that homeless shelter. I know it weighed heavy on Tom’s heart that his own mother was forced to live the last days of her life in that place run by Roman Catholics and he would ask us for gospel tracts and pamphlets about the evils of the Vatican to send her. Because giving someone the Gospel is the greatest gift you can give them, amen?
And Brother Tom was a man who knew how to witness. He never left the house without putting on a white dress shirt and tie and in the pocket of that shirt was sure to be a stack of gospel tracts and decision cards. And every Sunday he would come to church with a fresh batch of decision cards. And he didn’t just go to rich neighborhoods. No sir, Tom spent most of his time witnessing to people who didn’t even know how to read or write and he would have to fill out their decision cards for them and guess at how their names were spelled. Often times we couldn’t even find those folks later but I know we’ll see them some day in heaven and get the final head count of how many people he got saved. And that doesn’t even include all the witnessing he did by the Scripture verses that he had on stickers all over his truck.
Tom was a loving man. He loved everybody in this church. When I talk about Tom with people out in our community they always mention how much he loved to be with people and he especially loved to be an encouragement to single mothers who needed a man to help them around the house. It’s no wonder that so many of those women ended up naming their children “Thomas” and I swear that his love was so great that a lot of those kids even came to look like him as if he were their real father. But of all the people Tom Wilson loved, he loved his pastor most of all. Every deacons meeting and business meeting I could always count on him sitting right here in front and voting whichever way I felt led. You just can’t put a price on that kind of loyalty.
And I know that when that terrible accident happened and the brakes on that truck his wife was driving slipped and he had no time to get out of the way that even as he lay there in that driveway, the heavens opened and angels bore his soul aloft just like that pictures in the tracts he always handed out. And I know that he was so happy to be there in heaven with all the great Baptist preachers and men of God that he’d listened to on sermon tapes for all those years. And I’m sure they knew immediately that this was one of their own that was coming home and welcomed him with open arms into their midst.
Now let’s all stand and sing hymn number #356 “Coming Home” because I’m know that Brother Tom has gone home. And I’m sure he is even now receiving his just reward for his service here.
Let’s all sing out on the first…