I never met J. Christy Wilson, but I have been struck at how many people have mentioned this nonprolific teacher as someone who had a tremendous influence on their lives. Wilson spent 23 prime years as a tentmaking missionary in Afghanistan and only began teaching missions at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary at age 53 in 1975.
One of these "Wilson disciples" is associate editor Wendy Murray Zoba, who claims, "Christy Wilson was my standard for what it meant to be a Christian." On the occasion of his recent passing (see "Briefs" in the North American Report, p. 15), Wendy explains why this indefatigable promoter of missions (especially tentmaking) inspired so many, and in doing so explains what we are trying to lift up in Christianity Today:
"Anyone who took a class from Christy Wilson will remember two assignments. One was praying through prayer cards for all the nations of the world (available at the G.C.T.S. bookstore) and the other was writing a biblical defense for the exclusivity of salvation in Christ and what that implies for Christian mission. Prayer and mission were his passions.
"It was difficult to take notes when he lectured because his storytelling militated against it. He relieved our anxieties, though, by refusing to give any grade lower than an A-. So we sat back and heard his endless accounts of what God did in the course of Christy Wilson's remarkable lifetime.
"He knew your name before you walked into class the first time. In fact, he knew your spouse's name and the names of your children. That is because he used to pray through Gordon-Conwell's student directory daily. This had the result of many students turning to him for guidance. As I walked through the hallways in the Kerr building, I would often see him standing off to the side praying with a student between classes. He seemed to be so intimately acquainted with the Lord. Prayer was everything to him.
"Pastor, teacher, servant, friend: I will miss him. He has left a legacy of people, like me, whose lives have been moved to a new place (often literally) through knowing him. And he has left us a picture of what it means to be a lover of Christ."
When Wendy and her husband, Bob, were looking for vocational advice from their former professor, Wendy remembers thinking, "If Christy Wilson says it, it must be coming from the heart of God." A palpable love for others and for God, a transforming prayer life that drew others in, all standing on a firm foundation of Scripture and true doctrine—a legacy we can all aspire to and celebrate.
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