“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
This verse is a favorite of Bill Dickinson. In this verse, he takes comfort in the word “daily” knowing that each day is one that he can “take up his cross and follow Jesus” even if the day before was not the best.
Bill grew up in Bakersfield and is a graduate of Bakersfield High School. He attended Bakersfield College and graduated from California State University Bakersfield with a degree in English and a minor in Communications. In October, he will have worked for the Kern County Probation Department for 23 years. He is currently the Director of Juvenile Programs.
Bill and his wife Angela met through Angela’s cousins and have been married for 23 years. They are parents to four children: Dallas, 22, who attends Biola University, Sarah, 19, who attends Bakersfield College, Sam, 16, and Luke 12, who are homeschooled by Angela.
Bill says sports and his family are his main hobbies. Service is an integral part of his life, as well. Over the years he has served at RiverLakes in different capacities. In the children’s ministry, he has served in Awana, Pier 56, and Junior High. He and Angela have served as leaders in Couples in Christ Sunday School class and Community Groups. Currently, he serves in Men’s ministry and now that Luke is in Junior High, he is a leader there, too.
Bill’s introduction to Christ began through a friend’s family. Bill recalled, “I grew up in a good home, but we did not go to church. I had two friends whose family would take me to church when I spent the night at their home on Saturday nights.” Through this family, Bill was introduced to church and to Jesus. He also went to Hume Lake Christian Camp a few times. He saw his friend’s parents recently and was able to thank them for taking him to church and to tell them how their influence has impacted how Bill and Angela have raised their own children. “Sometimes it starts with someone willing to expose you to Jesus like they did.”
Angela introduced him to RiverLakes, or Fruitvale Community Church, as it was known then. Her family had been attending since she was in Junior High. She and Bill made RiverLakes their home after they were married. Bill enjoyed going to church and felt he was a “good enough person,” but he realized he had not fully given his life to God. That happened after Dallas was born. He said he has been blessed with Godly examples, most especially his Father-in-Law, Robert Osorio (who introduced Bill to the Probation Department, as well). “He was someone I could look up to and learn from,” Bill remembered. The pastors at RiverLakes have also taught him and guided him throughout the years, with Pastor Brent Van Elswyk having a great influence on his marriage and parenting.
When the idea of being an Elder was presented to Bill, his first instinct was to say no. “It was not anything I ever thought of doing.” He prayed and went home and talked with Angela. “I also talked with my family to make sure they understood what being an Elder meant and the impact it would have on them,” Bill said. He agreed to start the process of training to be an Elder. “I found that I had to be willing to be open to be led by God and the Holy Spirit. It is a big responsibility and it is humbling. We prayed all along the way and I realized I had to allow myself to be used in a way that I never thought would happen.”
When asked what God has been teaching him recently, Bill said knowing he truly doesn’t have control over his life. God does. He then cited another favorite verse in Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” A wonderful guide for a man who daily choses to take his up his cross for Christ.