Revd Ian Paisley’s wife says the family are “heartbroken”, but have “the grand hope of reunion”, following the death of the former First Minister of Northern Ireland.
Revd Paisley, who has died aged 88, founded the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and was a church minister for sixty years. His funeral took place yesterday.
Speaking about his Christian faith in 2008 he said: “I am a sinner, saved by the grace of God. I have my faults, which are many, which I lament. I want to do the best for my country.”
Revd Paisley first preached aged 16 and was ordained when he was 20.
In tributes at the Northern Ireland Assembly yesterday, MLAs spoke of their family members who came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through Revd Paisley’s preaching.
The current First Minister Peter Robinson said: “Ian’s faith shaped his entire life”, and political opponents spoke of his personal warmth.
Life into eternity
After Baroness Thatcher died in 2013, Revd Paisley spoke powerfully about eternity.
He said that when “someone of renown steps out from the mass of living humanity to face their Creator, we should note that one day we too will take the same step from life into eternity, and it should be marked with humble respect” adding, “because another soul has begun their real life where time is no more”.
Revd Paisley founded the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and served in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Westminster and the European Parliament – topping the poll in five consecutive European elections.
In 2007 he supported The Christian Institute’s opposition to Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) that threatened religious liberty.
In September of that year a judge at the High Court in Belfast quashed the dangerous harassment law – which was part of the SORs – following the Institute’s judicial review.
The Christian Institute’s Callum Webster said: “In the political arena Revd Paisley earnestly contended for godly laws on many issues, including the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, Sunday trading and gambling.
“Through his long political career he attracted both acclamation and criticism, but we are thankful for his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his Christian stand on ethical and moral issues.
“At this time we pray for his family as they mourn his death.”
Revd Paisley’s wife, Baroness Paisley, released a statement on Friday, saying: “My beloved husband, Ian, entered his eternal rest this morning.
“Although ours is the grand hope of reunion, naturally as a family we are heartbroken.”