It is now twenty-nine days since Dad/Bill died of complications due to Parkinson’s disease. In these intervening days hundreds of you have written to express your grief, joy, reminiscences, condolence to my brothers and me, and your affection for Dad, Mom, and our family. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of us all. In your notes you have also spoken about transformation—transformation of life, marriage, outlook—that has occurred while living alongside the ministry of Dad and Mom. I’m happy for you, thrilled that through knowing Dad and Mom you have more fully grasped the height, and depth, and breadth of Jesus Christ who is your life and love.
It is true that Dad has departed this life and joined those who went before him, including of course, Mom seven months ago. It is also true, as Larry Norman sang, all of us are “only visiting this planet.” Sooner than we might think, we too will depart this temporal to fully apprehend our eternal.
In the meantime, Dad and Mom left a legacy. Now it is your turn—our turn, those of us who remain—to leave a legacy.
One of the things we worked very hard to manage at Lifetime Guarantee, the ministry Dad, and Mom, and I founded many years ago, was the personalization of the ministry. It is very hard to be personal with a large mailing list, but based upon your notes, we were successful. Many of you posted on the Lifetime memorial page about letters you received, dinners enjoyed, and even serendipitous meetings with Mom or Dad. You spoke of notes written on pages of books, cell phone numbers exchanged, hugs in lieu of handshakes, and so forth. You wrote about radio broadcasts heard in the middle of the night that were “just for you.” The archives at Lifetime are filled with hundreds more such notes received over the last thirty-five years.
Mom and Dad and I each had visible presences on the platform of Lifetime Guarantee, but Mom and Dad were the more visible face of Lifetime, I more the one pulling levers behind the curtain of the organization. As we positioned ourselves to launch into ministry via radio, we convened a strategic meeting in which we determined to not use any illustrations, or make any references, to current events while on the air. Our hope was to create a legacy of ministry material that was timeless. Twenty years later I run into folks who ask if Bill and Anabel record each day or each week.
When we assembled ourselves in Houston to partner with Mars Hill Productions to create “The Life” video, each person in the audience, especially the ladies, was coiffed to eliminate “high style” and any other physical feature that would cause the video to age prematurely. We carefully chose Mom and Dad’s attire, worked on Mom’s hair, Dad’s glasses and lapels, and the decoration in the room to create a classic style that would stand the test of time. Many, many of you have written to say that you continue to use “The Life” long after similar products have gone out of style.
As technology changed, so did Lifetime—in order to foster a legacy of ministry. All of the audio materials created through Lifetime were converted to digital formats. Today, the audio ministry of Bill and Anabel and me reaches a potential listening audience many, many times greater than our radio broadcasts did at their zenith. Every product—audio, video, and written—was digitized against decay and for dissemination across multiple platforms.
Another standard at Lifetime, one of our stated core competencies, was simplicity and practicality through personal transparency. Our belief was that we could best encourage you, and guide you on life’s path, through not only teaching but also showing. There are lots of diagrams and illustrations, but there are many life-stories. We all need information, but in the end, we all need an example.
Mom is gone, dead on November 7, 2010. And Dad is gone, dead on June 23, 2011. I transitioned Lifetime, the Board of Directors, and myself on August 31, 2008 to the next generation of leadership. The ministry of Lifetime continues, but more to my point in this note is that there remains a legacy of ministry, a legacy rooted in simplicity, personal transparency, ageless relevance, practicality, and the message of Jesus Christ’s transformational power.
Yes, Mom and Dad are gone, but they left you—all of us—many tools standardized to the key element for successful living: Christ in you and through you the hope of glory.
Yes, there is a mailing list of significant size at Lifetime, but our Heavenly Father doesn’t measure success by the size of a mailing list. You know that. Dad taught you this with his egg illustration. Remember? Size isn’t what’s most important, not even results. What is most important is methodology.
My point? You know the methodology of ministry. Dad taught it to you, we demonstrated it for you, and Lifetime diligently created resources to equip you for ministry. The legacy you celebrate as you recall Bill and Anabel is a legacy that you can—that you must—access and possess and share with others, just as you have been taught, and have seen, and have witnessed in us.
My brothers and I, our families, and the ministry of Lifetime are deeply grateful for your attention to our loss and a grief that will never be assuaged in this life. But life proceeds. We are transients, just visiting this planet. Our highest calling is first to trust in Him who is life, grace, truth, mercy, and wisdom from God. Our greatest privilege is to transfer our calling to others, and in so doing, create a legacy rooted in Life.
There are many hundreds of audio messages at Lifetime.org. You can listen and learn for the rest of your days. There are hundreds of pages of written resources, a daily devotional, and many hundreds of articles on an array of subjects that are all indexed. All of this is part of the legacy created at Lifetime Ministries for you to draw upon as you grow, and live, and transfer yourself to others.
Although I have transitioned myself from Lifetime and into a new phase of professional life, I post thoughts and writings at my website, PrestonGillham.com. I publish books and materials here as well. In fact, my latest book, “No Mercy,” is a work of fiction designed to demonstrate the battle that rages between the flesh and the spirit. But the story of “No Mercy” doesn’t end there. This adventure of a King and his two sons demonstrates the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus. In the main character, Hank, there is an example to follow.
Dad and Mom and I, and the ministry of Lifetime, would be heartbroken if we ever had any inkling that you ran aground, lost your way, or turned away because our lives on Earth have progressed toward change and death. Seize the day! Our remaining time is short. It was only “yesterday” that Dad and I signed the formation papers for Lifetime Guarantee. Immerse yourself in the open legacy available to you and join those whose feet are upon the road to greater revelations of victory.
Thank you again for writing in memory of my Dad. He finished well midst very difficult circumstances. I miss him terribly, but I wouldn’t return him to this place for anything. Instead, I will go to him—we shall go to him, as well as those who come after us.