On Monday, my father and I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to see a man I had known all my life. He was a classmate of my father’s in preaching school and my brothers and I had grown up jokingly referring to him as our “big brother.” My dad and I were going to see him because we knew he was in the final stages of his battle with cancer, and we wanted the chance to visit with him one more time.
Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Brethren, be followers of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example… For our conversation is in heaven; from whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phi. 3:17, 20-21). Paul talked about the necessity of following the examples of those who walk according to the Gospel of Christ and live the truth of the Gospel in their lives.
Jimmie Hill was this type of example for many people. His work for the cause of Christ took him around the world; from Australia and New Zealand, to the pacific islands, to Iceland, to the nations of Africa: Jimmie spent his life living out the great commission. His ability to teach was both enlightening and encouraging, and his desire to reach the lost was the greatest ambition of his life.
But Jimmie did not just preach the Gospel, he lived it. He was a faithful husband and loving father. One who loved and cherished his family greatly and recognized the importance and responsibility of seeing to one’s own family first. Jimmie was always quick with a joke and a laugh, but he also knew when to be serious and always took the truth very seriously. He would not remove himself from it, nor would he allow others to propagate that which was false in his presence without a reply.
Last night, Jimmie finished his course. He lived a life that would have allowed him to make the same statement the great apostle made when he wrote, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). In fact, in the days leading up to his death, while under hospice care at home, Jimmie did not wallow in self-pity and fear, instead he set up a Bible study with his hospice nurse: still finding ways to spread the Gospel.
In an age where fools lift up athletes, the wealthy, and people who live their lives pretending they are someone else as role models; it needs to be shown who the real role models are. Individuals need to be held up who exemplify a life’s walk in service to the Creator. Jimmie was one of many such individuals I have had the pleasure of seeing, knowing, and loving in my life. I am thankful for the years that I had to know him, the influence he exerted on the lives of so many, and I pray that the example of his life will continue to live in the lives of those with whom he worked and taught as the days go by.