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Bill Barkley (1929–2020)

July 2020 | by Sharon Barkley

Bill and Mary Barkley
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William (‘Bill’) Wallace Barkley, 90, was promoted to glory on 5 April 2020, dying peacefully at home after battling cancer for several months.

Bill was born in Cloughogue near Ballymena, NI. He was one of seven brothers, including an identical twin, Tom. Both were members of Ballymena Baptist Church.

Bill studied at London Bible College, during which time he attended Westminster Chapel and sat under the ministry of Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

In 1958, Bill went to Brazil as a missionary with the West Amazon Mission. His work was in four areas: taking the gospel to Indian tribes; witnessing to people living along various tributaries of the Amazon River; preaching in small towns and villages; and, eventually, serving in Manaus.

He worked at the Christian bookstore Livraria do Lar Cristão (Bookstore of the Christian Home), first as manager and later as owner. In 1964, Bill married Mary, an American missionary with the Evangelical Union of South America, who had arrived in Brazil in 1961 and worked as a single missionary in interior towns in the Amazon region. They were blessed with two children, Tom and Sharon.

After several years in Manaus, Bill felt called to move to the city of São Paulo, where he opened the first public evangelical library of Brazil.

Within a few years, Bill felt the Lord’s call again, this time to begin an evangelical publishing house, in light of the lack of good Reformed literature in Portuguese, and because of the desire to reach a greater number of people than those who could be reached by the library.

Publicações Evangélicas Selecionadas (Selected Evangelical Publications) was founded in 1977, and Bill continued as its director until 2013 when the publishing house was handed over to successors Edmilson and Helen Bizerra.

Editora PES (as it is called in Portuguese) is known for solid Reformed publications, having titles by several Puritans, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, and many others, including several present-day Brazilian authors.

After handing over the publishing house, Bill and Mary continued to work from home on revisions of titles for publication.

He counted it a privilege to be ‘allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel’ (1 Thessalonians 2:4) and worked tirelessly and joyfully until shortly before his homegoing.

Bill is sadly missed by his wife, Mary; his children, Tom and Sharon; and countless relatives and friends.

By Sharon Barkley