Dr. William T. Iverson – Feb. 20, 1928 – Aug. 21, 2023
When I think back over my life and my experience in ministry, I’m so thankful for the wonderful mentors God has given me. The Lord has blessed me through amazing men that He used to influence my life in so many positive ways.
Last week, on August 21st, Dr. William T. Iverson moved to heaven. It’s interesting, because of the three most important mentors in my life all three of them moved to heaven this year. Dr. Thomas Graham on February 17, Dr. Richard Kaufmann on February 18, and now Dr. Iverson. Bill celebrated his 95th birthday on February 20th of this year, which I find fascinating that these 3 days in February line up in this way.
My Mentor, Spiritual Father and Friend
I first met Bill when I was a young seminary student at the International School of Theology (ISOT) in San Bernardino, California. I was still relatively new in my faith as I came to Christ in the Sophomore year in college at Fresno State.
When I first met Bill, I was immediately drawn to him. His boldness, love, warmth, and intellect. Bill used to like to talk to us students about “theology with skin on.” This meant we didn’t just study for knowledge, but that it was practical, and it influenced the way that we lived out our theology. He often would have us in his home, and we would go on walks together. We had many opportunities to spend time together and learn. I was the one learning!
One of the experiences I had with Bill that sticks out to me is when I was in my first or second semester at the school. We went into the city of San Bernardino to share our faith. Bill and I were at a local run-down diner. It was not in a good location, and I can remember not feeling comfortable there. Yet, there he was initiating conversation with the other patrons and workers in his friendly gregarious manner. I was amazed at how easily he engaged people, which often led to gospel conversations. I asked him how it was that he was able to do that. I told him that, “I often feel timid or even fearful to initiate conversations like he was doing.” He said, “it’s important to remember that all these people have fears as well, but the difference is that you have the Holy Spirit.” That’s something I’ve never forgotten!
It was with that guidance and encouragement that I began to launch out with other friends to share my faith and grow in boldness. That was a big step for me in my growth as a minister of the gospel.
When I was with Bill, he would often ask other pastors and people in ministry a question. He asked, “when was the last time that you shared your faith with someone?” Unfortunately, often they hadn’t in a while, and Bill would lovingly encourage them and exhort them. “How can you be in ministry if you are not sharing the gospel with others?” That’s always stayed with me, although it is a discipline to share my faith and sometimes, I’m better at doing it than at other times. It’s a continual challenge, and an area to grow in.
Bill was also passionate about church planting. Before I went to seminary, I had never even heard of church planting. His love, experience, and passion for the church of Christ was contagious. It was while I was in seminary that I not only learned about starting new churches but began to feel like the Lord was calling me to give my life to serving Christ in planting churches.
Mexico and Beyond!
Dr. Iverson led a group of students from the seminary on a cross-cultural ministry trip. At first, we thought about going to France, which I thought would be exotic, but we ended up going to Mexico.
The trip to Mexico forever changed my life, and God used it to call me into missions and to serve in Mexico. When we went to Mexico the first time I saw and experienced the great need, the openness of the people and the wonderful culture. I had some fears initially about going to Mexico, because I had never traveled to Mexico before. God surprised me, and just a few years later Dawn and I began to serve in Mexico as missionaries. That trip with Bill and 16 other seminary students was the beginning of it all as far as my call to Mexico goes.
Later I met Dawn, and Bill played a part in that as well. Every time we got together with Bill after we were married, he would like to remind us of our days together when we were still single. He loved the romance and often talked about covenant families. Dawn also, has many good memories from her time with Bill and his wife, Ann.
There are so many good memories and experiences that were foundational for me as I was beginning to learn and put into practice my faith in ministry.
Since when I arrived at school, I was still a relatively young Christian, I needed a spiritual father. I love my dad, but he wasn’t much of a spiritual influence in my life. Bill became a pillar for me, especially in my twenties as I began to grow, and prepare myself for the ministry.
After I graduated from seminary and went to Mexico City with Dawn I didn’t have as much contact with Bill, but we did connect from time to time. He always encouraged me, and it was like a shot in the arm each time I saw him.
I remember one specific time when Dawn and I were on our second term in Mexico. We were going through a difficult time. I was struggling with dealing with a situation relating to a pastor we were working with who had been involved in immortality. At the time I didn’t feel like his church was handling the restoration process well, and it bothered me. When I think back on it, I realize that I didn’t really understand how to apply grace to the situation. Anyway, it was eating away at me. I saw Bill in Miami, and I told him what had happened and what I was struggling through. He said, “Dave, do not fret, as it says in Psalm 37.” He also gave me other wise words and affirming counsel. I can’t fully explain what happened, but the Holy Spirit used the words that Bill shared with me, and all the sudden I felt peace. God gave me the grace to get through that. It was an important moment in my life.
Saying Goodbye to Bill
The last time I saw Bill was about 4 years ago. Bill would have been 91 at the time. We met at a Panera. He told the young women who was waiting on us, “I talked to someone that knows you this morning.” Bill liked that line to create curiosity and talk about Jesus. Then he’d say, “I talked to God in prayer.” Often that would open an opportunity to share more about the gospel. It was always a wonderful adventure to hang around my mentor, spiritual father, and friend.
Bill loved to give out books, and he would always write an encouraging note on the inside of the book. In the last book he gave me he wrote, “Wow – What a wonderful renewal of a special father, son and lovely daughter. Love you always! Bill Iverson for Ann.” Dr. Iverson authored a book titled, Jesus and the Ways of Socrates.
When I think about Dr. Iverson and the other important mentors that God has graced me with, I give thanks. I realize God has been so good to me to give me such amazing men and women that have built into my life, and my family.
I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for Bill Iverson and the influence he had in my life. I know that he had an impact on 1,000’s of men and women who desired to love and serve the Lord. One of my prayers has been that I would emulate Bill, as he followed Christ. Especially in his boldness to share his faith, his love for the church, and his hunger to learn. I’m grateful that Bill is with his Savior. We have that hope. I’m sure he’s met our daughter, Hannah and he’s probably shared all his wonderful stories about how he knew us while were dating. It makes me feel warm, just thinking about it. I love to think about what awaits us!
Thank you, Jesus, for Bill Iverson. A life well lived! He was a gift that to Dawn, to me and to so many others. He will be truly missed.
The Lord used Bill to give me a heart for evangelism and church planting. His fingerprints are all over our ministry! It comforts me as Bill moves to heaven, I’m confident that his legacy lives on. Part of that legacy is that we are in the process of planting a new church in Mexicali. The weekend of November 3rd we will begin construction on the church. One of the ways that I’d like to honor Bill’s life is dedicating this church plant to him.
Would you prayerfully consider joining us, and helping us to build this church. Help us to honor Dr. Iverson and to impact Mexicali for generations to come. We have been given a $5,000 matching gift, so that your donation will be doubled. Make a Donation Today.
In His Grip, Dave
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