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Whose faith follow: Mr W E Craig (1924-1991)

J R Baker

Bill Craig was a well known figure amongst the saints for many years as a teacher of the Word of God in assemblies gathered to the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ throughout the United Kingdom and elsewhere. He was born in 1924, and born again at the age of 15 under the preaching of Mr Edward Rankine from Ireland in Wellmeadow Gospel Hall, Paisley. Shortly afterwards he was baptised and received into the fellowship of that assembly where he continued for 42 years. His last ten years were spent in happy fellowship in the assembly which meets at the Gospel Hall in Barrhead, near Glasgow.

He was conscripted into military service in 1942 and became a physical training instructor in the Army. In 1944 he was so badly wounded in Normandy that he was left to die. The late Alastair Robertson of the Abernethy assembly, who was in the Medical Corps, saw him and took him to the field hospital where, after treatment, he began to recover. Later he was brought to a hospital in Cardiff for convalescence. While standing there with the help of two crutches, he first met Mr William Trew, who was a regular visitor at the hospital. Bill was preaching the gospel to a ward of wounded soldiers at this first encounter!

In early times after the war, Bill formed a close friendship with the Leckie family and often visited their home in Airdrie. On such occasions Bill and Albert would sit with Mr Leckie (senior) and discuss the Scriptures. Those evenings often ended with Bill catching the last bus back to Glasgow! They were informative times for both young men in laying a basis of knowledge and understanding of the sacred text. The fruit of study was seen in the subsequent teaching ministry of both of them. Bill Craig’s friendship with Albert Leckie lasted throughout the remainder of his life and culminated in him speaking at brother Albert’s funeral in 1988.

As the years progressed it was clear that our brother had become not only an interested reader of the Word of God but also a careful student of its truth. He loved ministry of the Word and Bible Readings and was never happier than when sitting in someone’s house discussing a passage of Scripture. He was always courteous to people, but this did not in any way prevent him from taking a different view in looking at the meaning of the passage. On occasion he would throw in some controversial remark into the conversation then sit back and listen to the various responses! In his own ministry he obviously enjoyed the Gospels dealing with such sections as the upper room ministry of the Lord Jesus in John 13-17, or some aspect of Ephesian truth, as well as that of the Epistle to the Hebrews. He would often take up facets of the Levitical Offerings as they portray the person and work of Christ, and the ministry on such matters was presented in a heart-warming way and was always well expressed. He was a speaker easy to listen to. Our brother was not a prolific writer although a little appeared from his pen in the Believer’s Magazine.

Bill Craig always made a substantial and helpful contribution to the local assembly where he was in permanent fellowship. Apart from being away for preaching commitments he would be present at all the assembly gatherings. His ministry was with a view to strengthening the truth of the local assembly in the minds and hearts of the saints, and this was done not only by his teaching of these subjects but also by his example.

On conference days at Barrhead assembly he would be seen welcoming the saints and later helping with the distribution of the food. He was a brother who liked to be involved in all that was taking place. Our brother had a shepherd heart for saints of his own assembly and was loved by them. In his obituary in the Believer’s Magazine it was stated that "In the assembly he was a faithful shepherd, ever mindful of the needs of the Lord’s people from the very elderly to the very young". An index of the help our brother gave locally was seen in the progress of some of the younger men who had contact with him in their earlier years.

Bill Craig’s shepherd care was not restricted to those in his own assembly. He was in general an excellent visitor of the sick with a word of comfort and cheer to all. The present writer remembers back in 1985 being admitted to hospital suddenly with a suspected serious illness. Apart from family, the first visitor who came to the hospital very quickly was Bill. This was quite characteristic of him. He appeared to have a genuine care for those who had a need. On occasion he had older brethren from a distance staying in his home for a time of fellowship and holiday. Such a heart lends character to a man’s ministry.

Our brother never married and seemed content to use his greater freedom from domestic responsibilities to engage in undisrupted service for the Lord. He lived with his parents until both were taken to be with the Lord, and was very kind and helpful to them until the end.

For many years he enjoyed a close friendship with Isaac Cherry of Stevenston, having previously served in the army with him. Bill accompanied Isaac and his family for their annual vacation for a number of years. After brother Cherry was taken to be with the Lord in 1967, our brother, in conjunction with Mr W Nelson of Stevenston, began to arrange a group holiday abroad for believers in assembly fellowship. This ran successfully for over twenty years and seemed to meet a need for many. Various countries in Europe were visited; the trips were always arranged to places where the local assembly could be attended and encouraged, and travelling was never on the Lord’s Day. Bill’s friendly and gracious disposition was a big factor in the whole project as such an undertaking carried many problems at times.

Bill Craig was one of a number of gifted brethren in Scotland who were well known in local assemblies throughout the British Isles as ministering brethren, yet who maintained normal employment throughout life. He was for many years the Managing Director of the company he worked for, but, despite such responsibility, he travelled throughout the UK at weekends, teaching and preaching the Word of God. Our brother was always immaculate and dignified, and his charm and generous personality endeared him to his many friends. He was as content at the smallest rural assembly, as being at the large Belfast Easter Conference. The present writer travelled many miles, and shared with him in many different places. He was always a pleasant brother to work with.

The ministry of such men has helped to confirm and consolidate assembly testimony in many parts of the country. Many of these men had themselves faced the ongoing problems of assembly life and therefore ministered on such matters from experience. It was at the end of such a period of ministry in the assembly at Wallingford, Oxfordshire, that our brother was taken home to be with the Lord. He had finished the particular series of meetings and retired to his bedroom on the night of 2nd October, 1991. It seems that before he had undressed he suffered a heart attack. The next morning it was discovered that the Lord had taken His servant; he was "with Christ, which is far better".

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