This is my story

Posted by GCI Update on September 12, 2018 under From the President | 11 Comments to Read

“From the President” this week is by GCI Vice President, Greg Williams.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Greg Williams

My father, Dean Williams, provided my first link to GCI (formerly WCG). While serving as a lay pastor in a small Advent Christian church in Dana, NC, dad began studying WCG literature. Then in 1974, he contracted Ankylosing Spondylitis, a crippling form of rheumatoid arthritis that caused his vertebrae to begin fusing, resulting in terrible pain. As a result, he was bedridden for a year. He used that time to study WCG’s 58-lesson Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course.

Dean Williams

Though lacking formal Bible training, my dad had always been a dedicated student of the Bible. So, after completing the Correspondence Course, he had many questions. In 1975, he contacted WCG headquarters in Pasadena, CA, and was put in contact with Hugh Wilson, the WCG pastor nearest our home. When the two met, my dad wanted to discuss the book of Romans. My dad’s contention was that in Romans, grace wins out over law. Pastor Wilson countered with WCG’s belief that God’s law was still in force since the church lives in the time between the old and new covenants (with the new not fully in force until Jesus returns).

Acquiescing to Hugh’s argument, dad led my family in leaving the Christian Advent church to become Sabbath-keeping WCG members. Every Saturday we would travel 30 miles to attend WCG church services in Asheville, NC. This meant that I was taken out of the normal routine of a 17-year-old who had been active in school life as a three-sport athlete. Instead, I became an active participant in WCG’s Youth Opportunities United (YOU) activities, driving across state lines to attend family weekends in places I had never visited before. I excelled in YOU track and field competitions, going from regional to tri-regional events, and then to the 1978 YOU national track meet in Pasadena, CA. I was then invited to attend a National Youth Leadership weekend in Pasadena. These activities solidified my desire to attend Ambassador College. There I met a co-ed named Susan Lang. We attended Ambassador from 1979 to 1983, and were married in 1984.

Linda and Hugh Wilson, who now live in Colorado Springs, CO.

In October of 1986 I was ordained an elder in WCG and by the summer of 1987, Susan and I, with our newborn twins Glenn and Garrett, were on our way to Denver, CO, where I served as an Associate Pastor. There we crossed paths again with Hugh Wilson who was now the pastor of WCG’s congregation in nearby Fort Collins. Hugh and his wife Linda went above and beyond in making us (a couple with newborn twins!) feel accepted into ministry. We are still grateful for the wonderful way they treated us.

Fast-forwarding now in the story, by 1996 WCG had fully embraced the biblical teaching that the new covenant was fully in force with Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. This means that the church is under grace, not law. That year I once again crossed paths with Hugh Wilson. Being a likeable and humble man, he said, “Greg, I guess your dad won that argument we had about the book of Romans!” We had a good chuckle, and when I shared the story with my dad, his heart was warmed.

Fanny Crosby

My dad was a huge admirer of Fanny Crosby. Though becoming blind shortly following birth, she is said to have composed over 8,000 hymns! Fanny’s lyrics testify to a believer who, despite physical blindness, saw Jesus with clear, strong eyes of faith. Her hymn, “Blessed Assurance,” was my dad’s favorite. Its first line proclaims a great truth: “Blessed assurance Jesus is mine!” The chorus then adds, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.”

My dad’s journey, from grace to law, then back to grace, is also my story—one with a conclusion that is the testimony of all believers: Jesus is mine, and I am his.

Praising my Savior, all the day long,
Greg Williams

  • David and Linda said,

    Thank you Greg for sharing this insight. Very helpful to me personally and, I’m sure, to many others. God is involved with us, “all the day long.” – David and Linda Husmann

  • Ken Williams said,

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful words, “Jesus is mine, and I am his.”

    Big Daddy Weave touches the heart with,

    “When I wake up in the Land of Glory
    With the saints I will tell my story
    There will be one name that I proclaim…Jesus”

  • Santiago Lange said,

    Dear Greg,

    Thanks much for allowing us to take a closer peak into your life. Always appreciate getting to know the family better. Just a few days ago, while riding my exercise bike, Fanny Crosby came into my mind. Guess that may not be the most inspiring or most sacred of contexts, but for some reason, while sweating away some calories, the thought of Fanny’s amazing dedication immediately paled my struggling athletic efforts and churning bones into insignificance. Thank God for those mighty heroes of the Christian faith! Their examples of marvelous courageous dedication give us strength even in our weakness.

    Blessings,
    Santiago

  • Murdock Doc GIbbs said,

    WHAT AN INSPIRING STORY! It reminds me of my own journey in the WCG now GCI…leaving those “false churches” of the world — you know, the ones that taught that grace trumps the law, and joining “God’s One and Only True Church”. It makes me appreciate God’s all-encompassing love for humanity, and the grace he bestows upon all of his Christ-following children who strive — somewhat awkwardly, to seek and live by His Truths. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and your incredible journey.

  • George Hart said,

    Greg, Thanks for sharing about your Dad. I remember staying at your family’s home for basketball or softball tournament in Asheville around 1980. Your Dad was so gracious and made certain we left with some delicious apples. Hope you still have the family farm. Beautiful place.

  • Bermie and Carmelita Dizon said,

    So heartwarming. Thanks for sharing. What an amazing story of Grace winning! We are all part of that story. Praise God.

  • Ted Johnston said,

    Greg, there are many parallels in our journeys, as you know (though mine tracked about ten years ahead of yours). I too came to WCG via my father at age 17, and as a family we traveled from grace, to legalism, and back to grace. For both of us, Hugh Wilson played a significant role. He was my pastor in the Fort Collins, CO, congregation you mention. Thanks for sharing your journey. May it, by God’s superintending grace and mercy, continue in this life for a very long time.

  • Randy Fisher said,

    Greg:
    There is nothing like the lessons from “legalism” to come to a full, appreciation of God’s grace. Looking forward to seeing you and your wife Susan when you make it up to Winnipeg, Canada in the future. Thanks for sharing !

  • Donna Rae Wells said,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Now I understand your love for North Carolina. It is humbling but wonderful to have had a teeny tiny part in your story when you were in Denver. Bill and I will never forget baby-sitting the twins!

  • Serge Volpe said,

    Great and touching story Greg! The journey from law to grace, in whatever configurations, is truly amazing and liberating beyond measure! Thanks for sharing, Serge Volpe

  • Andrew Masuku said,

    God bless… Such stories are fantastic in reverberating our own stories—as united in our spiritual journey within GCI. My prayer is that all of us maintain our willingness to change and avoiding dogmatism at any given time. God is yet to reveal more surprises—as long as our spiritual eyes and ears remain wide open.