Few people thrive in life without the lift provided by some godly people. My life is no exception. Whatever I am today, it is because God in His sovereignty and grace has used various people, books and situations to equip me in living and serving for His glory. One such person whom God used to make a remarkable influence on my life was Dr. David R. Willis.

I am always grateful to God for saving a wretched man like me, or else by now I could have become a smuggler or a criminal. Just few days after I was saved in the year 1996, one day Dr. Willis came to our church to preach. I still remember his sermon. He preached on Ezekiel, the watchman. After listening to him for the first time, I rushed to him with great excitement and expressed my interest to get trained for ministry. He gave his visiting card and invited me to his Bible college for further talk. When I went to see him, he warmly received me and enrolled me as his student.

Dr. Willis came from Canada to India in the 90’s to equip and train the national leaders for effective church ministry. He founded Trinity Christian College through which many people were trained, both in doctrine and life. As a theologian, preacher and teacher, he did a tremendous ministry during his life in India. He was a stern man and also a friendly person. He is one of the finest minds, a best preacher and teacher I have ever witnessed in my life. His content of teaching was so sound and his style of preaching so dramatic that even a sleepy person would rise and sit erect to listen. I am blessed to have that wonderful privilege to study under him.

After I was born-again, I used to attend a hyper-pentecostal church. Although there were some good things to speak about that church, the teachings and conduct were generally not sound. It was under the teachings of Dr. Willis that I have learned to live a balanced Christian life. I have learned from him to walk in the gifts of the Holy Spirit by having a strong doctrinal foundation and fruitful living. God had not only used Dr. Willis to put a solid doctrinal foundation and to shape my mind, He had also used him to show me His grace. There are few gracious moments that are vividly alive in my mind even till today.

Stephen David receiving transcript from Dr. David R. Willis in his first semester, in 1997

Gracious Chasing - 1
After finishing my first semester in Bible college, due to some family crisis, I gave up my studies and started to work in a hospital. I was depressed, confused and gave up my hope of doing ministry. When Dr. Willis came to know this, he took time to come to my home to meet me. I was living at that time in an inner-city slum. It wasn't such a nice place to come in. Dr. Willis parked his van in the centre of that slum, had me sit before him at the back of his vehicle, and spoke to me for a long time. On one side my heart was lifted through his words of encouragement, but on the other side I was feeling a bit uneasy as few slum people surrounded the van and looked at us, especially at Dr. Willis who is a foreigner, with great curiosity.

Well, I needed that encouragement and personal care, and guess what happened the next day?—I was back to Bible college to continue my studies. Dr. Willis coming at night to spend some time with me in that slum was a gracious and memorable moment of my life.

Gracious Chasing – 2
Another crisis came when I was in the middle of my studies in Bible college. I was in love with a girl (who is now my dear wife) and constantly went to meet her. This distracted my mind and could not concentrate on my studies. My love for the Lord had even become cold. My authorities in the college came to know my situation and warned me in love to stop meeting my girlfriend. However, I could not stay away for a long time and continued to meet her. I felt guilty for not living a life of integrity. I thought I am not worthy to do ministry with this kind of carnality. I sent a letter to the board of governors in Bible college, notifying that I am leaving my studies.

I left college and went straight away to meet my girlfriend. She was staying in girls hostel and studying physiotherapy at that time. As a failure in life, I was talking to her in the visitor’s area, not knowing where I am heading in life. As I was speaking to her, I heard the sound of the bullet from outside. Dr. Willis, in search of me, came to my girlfriend’s hostel to see whether I am here. Seeing us together sitting on the chair and talking, he parked his vehicle right before the visitor’s area and stood there. I was shocked to see him. Leaving my girlfriend, I went near to him. He had me sit with him near the pavement there and counseled me. We spoke for a long time, from evening till night. I repented of my sin. He then took me on his vehicle, left me in the hostel of Bible college, gave me a big hug and went back to his home. That wonderful moment, marked by grace, is an unforgettable event of my life.

Final Words
I’ll never forget in my life Dr. Willis’ gracious chasings to help me get back on God’s track so that I would become a man God wants me to be. I still remember the great moments I had with Dr. Willis, talking and discussing with him on many theological and personal issues. I cannot imagine how my life would have been if Dr. Willis had given up on me when I went astray. I praise God for such a gracious person who didn’t give up on me.

Soli Deo Gloria!


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Stephen David