On the evening of October 5th, 2013, Tom Mitchell joined all those others who sleep in the grave waiting for the blessed return of the Lord Jesus Christ. God had rescued Tom, after ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, had ravaged his body for more than two years.
Sometimes God touches a person and directs him or her to set their feet upon a different path. Of course, the greatest example of this is the Apostle Paul but there have been many others throughout history who have made a major contribution toward the spread of Christianity. Their names are well known and enshrined through books and biographies. Still, some of God’s choices are mostly forgotten when lives are closed, yet our Father in Heaven is just as proud of their accomplishments.
Like Paul, Tom Mitchell was an unusual choice to make the impact he did, for as he was to say many times, his past was a checkered one. It was in the mid 1980’s when God selected this rather shy, reclusive individual to be an important servant on the west coast of British Columbia. Tom jumped in with both feet, first becoming a Bible scholar, to the point where he had few equals, then mostly, on a one to one basis, setting about to teach the Israel Truth to anyone who would listen. The high point in his life was the many years he spent with his beloved British-Israel-World Federation as the Vancouver Branch and Bookstore Manager and later as a Board Member of the Canadian Federation
Along with BIWF’s president, Douglas Nesbit, and The Association of the Covenant People’s Jim Read, he helped seal the final breech between the two organizations that ruptured way back in 1936. He helped establish, then managed, joint Sunday worship services, developed a joint Hymn book, chaired Bible meetings, kept in close touch with Movement leaders around the world and took upon himself the laborious behind the scenes work at conferences. And true to Tom, he never sought recognition for doing God’s work. An amazing man.
Jim Read once confided that he talked to hundreds of people about the Israel Truth but could count on one hand those he had convinced. Yet Tom brought dozens to the Truth through one on one sessions. Those new believers all extolled his great teaching ability, his knowledge of Scripture, his perceptiveness in understanding passages, and his passionate love of people and the Lord God Almighty.
Particularly over the past fifteen years, Tom became very close with his three sons, grandchildren and his many friends. One friend, a pen pal of some 34 years, shared his last communication to her.
So, as the dreaded disease drained the last motion from his body, even his ability to talk, God whispered to him that he had run his race, did it well and then, mercifully closed Tom’s eyes.
It can truly be said of Tom Mitchell, “A great man of Israel has fallen.”