Wayne Williams 1920-2020
Wayne Williams really wanted to be 100 years old, and he almost made it. He would have reached that milestone last Wednesday, but he missed it by a few weeks – going Home on March 29. I’m sure missing that goal doesn’t bother him a bit now in Glory, but it is one of the very few goals he missed in this world. He served in WWII, then became a photographer, a pilot, and a builder/developer. He and his beloved Rosie adopted and raised five children, all while being a key part of the Lord’s church at Elpyco, Northside, and Shell Knob. Wayne volunteered for years leading the youth group, and later served as an Elder at Northside. If you knew “Uncle Wayne” you know why he was so successful at so much. If you didn’t know him, read on and you’ll understand.
In 1981, Wayne returned from visiting an uncle in San Diego, CA. The Mission Viejo congregation there produced a television program called Know Your Bible, and Wayne was convinced we had to do something similar here in Kansas. Let’s say there was “moderate” interest in his idea – mainly because it seemed so expensive and overwhelming. But Wayne was convicted it needed to happen. He checked with every TV station in town and found that there were no time slots available on Sunday mornings. So, he called them all again – every month – for the next five years. Finally, in 1986, KSN called him to say they had an opening. After five years, the “moderate” interest had dwindled – we had no money in the budget and no idea how to produce a television program. Many thought it was crazier than a little boy going after a giant with a slingshot – but Uncle Wayne was convicted. In a couple of months, our Elders had signed a year’s contract with KSN, Northside members had pledged to pay for it, and three of us had figured out (sort of) how to do a TV program. If you ask me today how all of that happened, I could honestly say, “I have no idea.” But the real answer would be, “the Spirit and Wayne teamed up.” Over the next 30+ years of Know Your Bible, Wayne never stopped promoting it. Every congregation he visited was a potential supporter or new market for KYB. When he retired to Shell Knob, MO, he became well known to the TV station managers in Springfield. Once again, he procured a time slot, and the Lord came through with the finances to expand the program outside Kansas. Wayne put ads in the paper in Shell Knob, and personally told everyone he met to watch the program. He called me about once a week – often to tell me about a clerk or waitress or someone he had signed up for the Bible correspondence course, but most often just to thank us for continuing to faithfully produce the program.
Uncle Wayne was one of a kind! He loved KYB because he loved the Lord and he loved people, and KYB brought those two together. I don’t know how they announce new arrivals in heaven, but surely the word spread that“He’s the guy who started Know Your Bible.” Uncle Wayne has been in Glory for almost two months now (our time), and I imagine there is still a line of folks waiting to thank him for all he did to get them there.