Brian Stiller

Podcastor

Author

Global Ambassador @ WEA

Brian Stiller

Podcastor

Author

Global Ambassador @ WEA

Post Articles

Farewell to a Friend

September 25, 2018 Articles

It has been a few weeks since we said goodbye to Don Posterski. I wanted to let some time pass before penning my farewell.

Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, both of us were nurtured in small holiness church communities: his Nazarene, mine Pentecostal. While over time we tested their boundaries we always valued those who gave us our start, and in conversation reminded each other how blessed we were by our heritage,

Both of us – far too young – married the sweethearts we had met as teens. Then we headed off to college after which both of us migrated into youth ministry, Don with InterVarsity and me with Youth for Christ.

We didn’t meet till the late 1970s but when we did, there was an immediate friendship, an understanding, a respect, and joy in our repartee, arguments never out of hand but sufficient to occasionally raise the eyebrows of Beth and Lily. So different we were. Yet with so much in common. As it often is with friends, we had an instinct for how each other might react.

Our lives interlocked in projects, conferences, programs and various initiatives. We worked (unsuccessfully) on a youth congress for Calgary in 1983, but it was over dinners, our annual New Year’s Eve with Jim and Faye Boehmer, strolling the golf course, or long evenings of reflection that wove the strands of our friendship, so when he said his days were numbered, it came as an enormous shock when I realized it literally was just a few days.

These intertwining paths merged in friendship, separated by different interests and skills. Yet at critical moments I relied on him for advice. June 1995 was such a moment. OBC/OTS (now Tyndale) had slipped into insolvency, and I was asked to help. Quite outside my life experience, I wondered what to do. A call with Don put it into perspective: there are times you just do what needs to be done whether you like it or not, he said.

Our golf game was symbolic of who we were and how we walked together. Hitting off the tee I outdrove him. But when it got to the short game, his irons showed who could finesse the game.

I watched his influence in InterVarsity and World Vision, always leading staff to be generous of people, issues and trends. Oh, don’t get me wrong. He wasn’t always sweetness and light. His words though gentler and his voice softer than mine, he could deliver a punch. When he read a manuscript, and in his estimation found me wandering off course, my feelings were not his prime concern. What he deeply cared about was that what either of us said or wrote would be rooted in the Gospel, in line with fair and honest research and helpful in guiding those we sought to influence. In a moment he’d smile and with his customary “Hey Big B” we’d settle back into the easy ride of a trusting friendship.

There are a few notes scribbled on my note pad which frame my understanding. He was so in love with Beth. And Brenda, Jeff and family. He was exceedingly bright. He never did do a PhD, but his research, reflections and counsel put him miles ahead. His gentle but direct writing style allows the reader to follow his inherent and convincing logic.

He was loyal. He loved those with whom he worked. He was generous with his time but careful where he invested his gifts and because of that, his productive output was extraordinary. He traveled the world. He and Beth migrated from their Nazarene community to Baptist then as Anglicans. Always affirming their evangelical roots but embracing a wider Christian witness, community and witness.

This spring in Florida he, Beth and I did a round, although we never did finish the full 18 holes. We drove to their place and the four of us, over our last supper together, said our goodbyes. His going is such a loss to Beth, family and us his friends. I blubbered as we neared the end of the evening. He smiled and with “Big B” said, I’ve had a great life. I’ve lived what I never thought I’d live. He seemed ready to go, with greater ease than I was ready to see him go.

Now these weeks later I know his epitaph: his life, his understanding of the Gospel and witness of faith, always generous and kind is wrapped up in, “There is a wideness in God’s mercy.”

That wideness gave this prairie boy an expansive peripheral vision and embracing arms to see the work of Christ in ways, that without his alerting, I might never have seen.

We all miss him. But we live with his lingering influence.

Brian Stiller

September 2018