Wednesday my sister’s husband and my brother-in-law and friend, Garry Wiggins, passed from this life into the very presence of the Lord. We have been friends since the autumn of 1973, when we met our first year of college at Southeastern. Garry, drove a yellow Toyota Corolla and loved the horn on that car. He was always honking that horn in greetings to someone as he sped away from school.
Two years later my sister and the beautiful young woman who would become my wife began attending Southeastern and were roommates. I was doing quite a bit of traveling and preaching on the weekends in those days. Garry’s father invited me preach weekend services at their church, Evangel Temple in Jacksonville, Florida. I stayed with Garry’s parents, Pastor Cecil and Pauline Wiggins in their home. Early the next morning, Garry walked into my room and said, “Dennis, look who’s here!” He had brought Becky with him. They were laughing so hard. I’m smiling writing this. He loved surprises. And I was surprised, also Becky, now knew how I looked first thing in the morning and she still married me!
Later my sister, Kim and Garry began dating, I was pleased. I had known my friend for three years and I knew he loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He asked my Dad for Kim’s hand in marriage and then proposed. As he told me about his proposal to Kim, you could see once again the Lord was the center of everything in their lives. It remains a joyful memory for me that I was able to assist his Dad in performing their marriage ceremony as a young pastor.
Garry and Kim loved each other and he always sought to honor Kim in every way. Recently, he called me and said, “Dennis, you have got to listen to this message Kim preached, it’s great. It’s the best on the subject I have ever heard.” Look around their home, ask their children, ask anyone who knows them. They loved God and each other passionately.
He loved his children and grandchildren. Their home was always full of laughter, joy, and children everywhere. Jennifer and Ryan, Justin and Katie, and Jordan and Marie, have given them 12 grandchildren. (Two more born since this photo.)
Whenever we visited, Garry would always be up early in the morning for prayer and then he would sit on the floor and read the Jacksonville newspaper. As I look back on our younger days, Kinnaman and Matlock’s book, Faith for Exiles, comes to mind. They write about “resilient disciples” who find joy in Jesus, enjoy a full prayer life, and want Jesus reflected in their life. That was always true about Kim and Garry.
On those visits we would always walk around, talking about evangelism, church growth, faith, buildings and grounds. The rare Sunday mornings we were about to visit, we would meet Garry’s Dad and walk through the building and then Pastor Wiggins would take us to breakfast at the Cracker Barrel.
Garry loved my Dad and Mom. He was always looking for a way to help out when they came. Sometimes, Daddy who used the word hope for help, would say, “Garry, hoped me with this.”
Our children love Uncle Garry and Aunt Kimmee! There was always a warm welcome and lots of love, and hugs all around when you arrived, the first thing in the morning, throughout the day. Their home was and is a great example of a Christian family.
I will miss the times at every General Council when we would watch our kids in Fine Arts, go to dinner, and worship in the services together. I will miss hearing him call and say, you have to read this book. It’s the best book, I’ve ever read on the subject. Or calling me and saying have you heard this pastor, evangelist, or missionary?
He loved being a pastor. A few years ago, we were talking about neither one of us could imagine life without being pastors. He loved Evangel Temple. He served that congregation for over 45 years. He loved to pray and worship with the ET Family. I loved to listen to him preach. He got completely involved in the sermon he was preaching. He enjoyed networking and connecting with people from all walks of life. For all of his ministry he would be deeply invested in missions and church planting.
Garry, is in the presence of Christ healed and whole. Heaven captivates me. No more pain, sorrow, suffering, or tears. Imagine the greatest joys, beauty, landscapes, parties, celebrations, food and at the center of it all will be Christ. Nothing we have known here can compare. I hear the words of Jesus deep in my soul tonight, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” (John 11:25)
It is Kim, their children and grandchildren, and their church family that needs our prayers now for comfort, peace, and time to grieve with hope.
Just one more thought, “Are you prepared to die? Have you trusted Christ completely for forgiveness of your sins? Have you shared the Good News of Jesus with anyone recently?” If not, let me gently remind you that God loves you! We need a Savior or God would have never gone to the trouble to send His Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Trust Him!
4 thoughts on “My Brother in Law and Friend, Pastor Garry Wiggins”
So sorry for the loss of your dear friend and your sister’s husband. I am praying for you all.
Pastor, your brother in law sounded like a wonderful man. My condolences to his family and to yours. I pray for comfort and strength.
Thank-you Mike. He was. I will pass along your condolences. Love ya big!