This week Grace Ministries lost a great friend. Bill Albers will be sorely missed and his family is very much in our thoughts and prayers as they grieve the loss of their beloved father and husband. We all wish we each could hug each of you with hugs as huge as the size of your pain, but we know that ultimately it is only the company of Jesus, moment by moment, that will bring you the peace and healing you will need in the days to come. We commend you to the care of the God of all comfort.

I did not know Bill that well but I enjoyed spending time with him whenever our paths crossed. I met Bill and his family in one of my trips here to candidate for the job of lead pastor. I was running at an event in Lancaster and he and his wife introduced themselves. It didn’t take me long to learn that Bill was an avid fisherman and a devoted family man. His family’s love for God and people is a blessing; I am sure Bill’s footprint is all over that love.

Bill had a sense of humor. He told me once after a message that if my day job didn’t work, I should try standup comedy. I am sure he meant it as a compliment but I wondered if I exaggerated on the humor that Sunday. No matter. He enjoyed the sermon that day and seemed happy. Bill’s days after he found out he had cancer were not always predictable and in these last few months he could have had plenty of reason to complain. But whenever I asked him how he was doing, he almost always had something positive to say.

Last Friday I saw Bill’s wife, Janet, at a LCS volleyball game. She astounded me when she said, “The sicker Bill gets, the stronger we get.” I reminded her that this was a sign that they were right where God wanted them to be – walking in the center of God’s will.

I saw Bill on Tuesday, the day before he went to be with the Lord, lying on the couch, too exhausted to do anything. He had not been eating for four days. I asked him not to say anything, just to let me pray with him. I held his hand and prayed. He didn’t say much, but his mind was all there. As I walked in and made my way toward him, he made a quick remark, “My, you really smell good.” He felt the scent of my Brazilian cologne and couldn’t resist saying something. I guess Bill knew the finer things of life (J) or maybe he was just telling me to go easy on that stuff. Who knows?

On Wednesday, I came into the office and was approached by Rick Bernhardt. He wanted to know if it was true that Bill had passed. He had heard rumors from kids but needed to have confirmation. Right away I drove to Bill’s house and was greeted by a smiling Janet, “I guess you heard.” Earlier, she had found Bill lying on the grass, looking toward heaven. A purposeful walk toward the end, as I saw it. A more dignified death could never be scripted.

All three of the girls were also there and the place was filled with peace and serenity. Beautiful smiles, quiet reflections, the stuff that accompanies those who are sure of things. No sign of despair. We prayed and I walked out, more sure of God’s care for His people to the very end than ever before.

Good bye, Bill – friend of many, enemy of none. Your legacy of faith will live on and we rejoice that you are now in God’s presence. We will not go fishing on the Amazon, as you wished we could, but there will be rivers in heaven and you will be able to give some tips to this son of a fisherman who knows nothing about the trade.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA