A tribute to Tom Hamilton

During the summer of 2003, I had the great privilege to get to know Tom Hamilton.

Rob McArthur

During the summer of 2003, I had the great privilege to get to know Tom Hamilton. Tom had recently graduated high school and had started attending our church youth group. As a pastor, in only his second full year on the job, I was greatly encouraged by the sudden attendance of a young man with the local pedigree of someone like Tom. However, as I got to know him, I discovered there was much more to Tom than just being the son of a successful local businessman.

Tom immediately took to our small group of young people and got involved from the get go. He volunteered to chaperone a trip to the World Waterpark at West Edmonton Mall. As we stood in line for slides, Tom would regale me with stories of the grocery business. He was an imposing figure. At well over 6’2”, most of the young people looked up to him, literally.

Anyone who had the pleasure to know Tom can recall his savvy for all things to do with computers. Our church was in its infancy in all areas “tech”. Tom was generous with his time and installed new drivers and programs that would make our digital transition a success. When I would ask for a bill for the programs he had purchased or work he had done, he would refuse. He insisted that his contribution to the church would be from the things in his life that he was passionate about.

That fall as Tom attended RDC, I would often catch a ride with him down to Red Deer. At the time, my wife was teaching in Wetaskiwin and as a single vehicle family, I needed transport to a weekly staff meeting in Red Deer. Tom was more than happy to oblige. Not one to miss an opportunity to talk about Christ, I would often steer our conversation toward eternal things. In time, Tom made a decision to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior. A short time after, I walked with him into the waters of Baptism as he made the decision to follow the example of Jesus and be baptized.

This past weekend when I learned that Tom had been taken in a tragedy, I felt absolutely gutted. I considered the loss his wife and the new family must be experiencing. I thought about his father, mother and sister. I reflected on the enormous loss that the community of Ponoka has now been faced with, the loss of Tom’s contribution. It’s tough.

But then I remember the decision that Tom made. I remember leading him in that all important prayer that acknowledged his need for a savior. And I remember the faithfulness of Christ. Psalm 145:13 says “For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord ALWAYS keeps his promises; He is gracious in all he does.”

Though our loss is great, I am encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.”

Rest in peace, Tom.