Mis­sion­ary stal­wart, and aide to Billy Gra­ham, dies

The Church of England - - NEWS - By Richard Bewes

She was never fea­tured on the cover of any Chris­tian pe­ri­od­i­cal; she de­lib­er­ately kept well be­low the radar. But around the world of Gospel en­ter­prise ‘Queen Jean’ - as she was af­fec­tion­ately known in Amer­ica, Europe and across Africa – un­der­pinned, ad­min­is­tered and sup­ported ser­vants of Je­sus Christ, the prom­i­nent and the un­known alike. She passed from this life on Sun­day, 13 Jan­uary, 2013.

It ap­pears Jean Wil­son never had more than three or four hours sleep. If she was not phon­ing across the world, she would be check­ing the proofs of De­ci­sion Mag­a­zine – or wait­ing at Heathrow’s Ar­rivals – hav­ing al­ready ar­ranged Lon­don ac­com­mo­da­tion for an in­com­ing Amer­i­can… a Jor­da­nian… a Nige­rian… a Pak­istani, on be­half of the Billy Gra­ham Evan­ge­lis­tic As­so­ci­a­tion. For Jean Wil­son spent 50 years with BGEA (and later, Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse). At the age of 26 she had been asked by Billy Gra­ham to set up a Lon­don of­fice for him in the wake of his mo­men­tous 12-week nightly cam­paign at Har­ringay Arena in 1954.

Or… she might have been check­ing the ac­counts of any one of a score of Chris­tian or­ga­ni­za­tions. The late Ge­orge Hoff­man once con­fided: “Jean – I’m hope­lessly late fin­ish­ing the ac­counts for TEAR Fund!”

“Come on!”, came the re­ply. “Sit down with me, Ge­orge, and we’ll get it done to­gether!”

Jean Wil­son was honorary global trea­surer and sec­re­tary of African En­ter­prise, serv­ing the mis­sion af­fairs of 10 African na­tions. Spirit-filled, one-eyed AE evan­ge­list with African En­ter­prise in Zim­babwe is wid­ower, Or­pheus Hove. Learn­ing of Jean’s pass­ing, he writes, ‘God had given her a gift of knowl­edge which was be­yond sim­ply hu­man knowl­edge. I would meet her in Nairobi, Cairo or Kigali, and she would re­mem­ber all three months money trans­ac­tions be­tween my of­fice in Zim­babwe and hers in UK with­out mix­ing with all other or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­counts. Bril­liant woman of God; per­son­ally she had be­come a sis­ter and a mother… a woman of love and pas­sion for the work of the Lord.’

Jean has baby-sat for Billy and Ruth Gra­ham, set up book­stalls for 12,000 evan­ge­lists in Amsterdam, and driven vis­it­ing evan­ge­lists around the UK. Sto­ries have poured out of th­ese ad­ven­tures.

No Sun­day at­ten­der in Lon­don’s All Souls Church would ever have sus­pected that the neigh­bour­ing dark-haired wor­ship­per, whose hymn-singing was hope­lessly out of tune, was one of the great Chris­tian work­ers in the world.

Mu­si­cal or not, Cliff Bar­rows, choir and hymn-di­rec­tor for Billy Gra­ham across 60 years, aptly writes, ‘Our Jean has left the land of the dy­ing for the land of the liv­ing.’

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