Remembering Bill French
July 2, 2015
Today I mourn the passing of a dear “Papa” in the spirit—a complete jewel of a man who I’ve been blessed to know for nearly 20 years. Bill French went home to be with the Lord and find his place in that great cloud of witnesses.
His generation has been called the “greatest generation”, and I can whole-heartedly agree with that adage. Selfless, loving, courageous, and resolute are things that come to mind when I think about Bill French.
He was an accomplished leader in God’s army, a forerunner in deliverance ministry, a spiritual father to countless ministers and most of all, a kind, compassionate friend. He loved to laugh and had a playful, mischievous streak that endeared people to him all the more.
He walked in a remarkable mix of both Godly love and Godly authority. And because of his dedication to the Lord, saw many captives set free.
I learned so much from this dear, dear man. But most of all I learned to be like Jesus.
John 14:12 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
February 19, 2015
I’ve spent yesterday and today reflecting on the life of John Paul Jackson. When he passed yesterday on Ash Wednesday 2015, heaven gained a faithful friend while earth lost a sage ambassador for Christ.
He used to come and speak at my church in Birmingham, AL, almost every year. And I can remember the first few times I heard him. I was completely blown away at the level of godly revelation I heard. Here was a man completely at home talking about the supernatural aspects of God. Here was a leader voraciously plunging deeper into the Word and Spirit to teach and equip the body of Christ. I would lean on the edge of my seat as I listened in awe.
I went on to take all of his Art of Hearing God courses, and I am forever blessed for doing so. These classes helped me enormously to grow in my relationship with God and understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in my life. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for John Paul taking the time to put these courses together and make them available to the body of Christ.
But as I reflect, I know that you can’t really limit John Paul Jackson to that of a great speaker and teacher. God had gifted him so much more deeply. He exuded a father’s grace in leading and encouraging people. And although I was only around him during his brief visits and a few other occasions, I, like so many, affectionately thought of him as a spiritual father.
He had certain characteristics that only true father’s have. He took time with people. He was selfless, noble, and passionate and at the same time, playful and childlike in his awe of God. And he feverishly invested in the next generation. He cried when others cried and laughed when others laughed. He cared about those around him and ardently wanted them to grow as believers, walk in authority, and have vision. And boy, when you were around him did you have vision.
I remember one of the last times that he came to our church. I’d had a dream, and he was in it. I shared it with him, and it was extraordinary how he interpreted the dream so easily and shared things that spoke to both of our lives.
On that particular occasion I had recently recorded one of my first worship CDs. I remember so fondly John Paul walking into the back of the church for the first night of the conference and saying, with a wide smile and a twinkle in his eye, “Shawn Lombard! You’re on my iPod!” I just beamed and replied, “John Paul! It’s so good to see you again. You’re on my iPod, too!” We both laughed.
Yesterday the church lost a friend, a visionary, a missionary, a prophetic voice, and an impeccable teacher. But most of all we lost a father. I sincerely pray that God grants us more.
After all, though you should have ten thousand teachers (guides to direct you) in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the glad tidings (the Gospel). 1 Corinthians 4:15 (AMP)