Each text would start with. What’s up Lil Bro or What’s up White Bread. I knew the mood Billie was in based on that alone. I have been told by many individuals that they see his facial expressions and hear things that he would say in me. Why? That is how much time we spent together.
I would describe us as Paul and Timothy. Billie walked and guided me for a long time. He taught me many skills from breaking down scriptures, talking to different kinds of people, controlling emotions, how to truly love, how to handle stress, how to relax and be still, and mostly how to ensure my main focus was Jesus’ calling for my life.
Many people knew of Billie in the Columbia community, but very few really knew Billie. He had a few people that he confided in and trusted. I was fortunate enough to be one of those individuals. That is why I identify our relationship as Paul and Timothy.
Billie and I met when I was the Chaplain at Irmo Fire Department at a town house fire on St. Andrews Road many years ago. From that moment, we had a relationship that was unique. It stayed that way until the end as can you see from the picture.
Let’s talk about family and community. Some would call their community their family. Some would call their family their community. Billie definitely would call his community his family. He had one true love from the time we met and that was Jesus, an very close runner up was his grandmother who he talked about quiet often.
Why would I say his community was his family? I say that because that is what he lived for every day. He had a daily schedule and if you knew him, Billie had certain times in the day you could connect with him (10-2) or after his nap that normally ended around 6pm. Between 10-2 he normally started his day at the Waffle House in that back right both. After 6pm he was out and about serving somewhere in his community or sitting in the famous F150 listening to sermons or counseling and mentoring on the phone with those same wired headphones in his ears.
The best way describe Billie in today’s time would be what I call him, The Street Pastor. As many have said, he never turned a stranger down, he always took time to spread the gospel in individuals darkest times and could change a situation based on his smile. I always said that I could see Billie as one of the disciples that Jesus would have chosen back in the day when he chose them, but he was definitely a Real Disciple in his time here.
If we learn anything from Billie. We need to learn how important being invested in your community truly is. Whether it is your family, your community, or your family and community. We can learn to keep your circle small to ensure you have true relationships and accountability. We can learn serving and loving Jesus should be first in our lives. We can learn it is never to late to follow your passion and educate yourself. We can learn we all have a past, but your past makes your story. We can learn that your time is Jesus’ time, so use it wisely for His Kingdom. We can learn that unity is the most important task to conquer in our communities. Finally, we can learn that having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important decision in any of our lives.
One of the lines that Billie would say is feelings are not facts, and facts are not feelings. He would insist on making sure that you were sticking to the facts of every situation without letting your emotions drive the next step in a complicated situation. That is what made him a great Chaplain and most of all great brother and mentor. He was a book of knowledge in many different areas of life as I could sit for hours and learn from him. His teaching and mentoring method was always formed around biblical principles.
Billie would always attract people by his size and smile. It was when he spoke that people’s mouth would drop from his knowledge of life and biblical principals. It was always a great experience to watch.
Some people would say that Billie was finished here in his work for Christ. I am not sure I can agree with that. Billie got sick and his race ended. I know that he ran his race extremely well for Christ, and he most definitely heard, well done my son!
I will miss my partner in crime. I know our relationship looked a little different after we moved to the beach, but he was just as much of a difference maker on the phone and FaceTime as he was in person! Billie your community is forever changed by your selflessness, your sacrifice, and your love!