Remembering Paul

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by Tom VanWingerden
Executive Director

It is with great sorrow that I must pass on the news that Paul Buursma, a member of the Friendship Ministries Board of Directors and a longtime friend of mine, has gone to be with the Lord. I have had a unique relationship with Paul over the years. We first became friends through our weekly Friendship Group at Plymouth Heights Christian Reformed Church. Then, with some salesmanship on Paul’s part, I became his boss at the Calvin College campus store, which I managed. Then, a year and a half ago, Paul was elected to serve as a member of the Friendship board at the same meeting where the board voted to hire me as Executive Director. So I believe I have a distinction that I’m guessing nobody else has—that of having been a friend, a boss, and an employee of Paul.

Paul’s health was already beginning to decline when he agreed to serve on the board, but his love for this ministry was so strong that he made attending the board meetings a priority, even when he had very little energy. At the most recent meeting, the board got a “sneak peek” at some of our new curriculum. Paul’s enthusiastic participation in the demonstration lesson was such an encouragement. Not that he was known as a harsh critic, but we figured if he liked it, we must be doing something right.

Today’s blog post was meant to be a message of Christmas joy, but it is hard to write of joy when my heart aches with such sorrow and loss. So I will write instead of hope. Two thousand years ago, the God of the Universe made himself human in an act of incomprehensible mystery. He was born, he lived, he died, he was resurrected, and he gave the promise of resurrection to his followers. Paul was certainly one of Jesus’ faithful followers. In this life, Paul was known (among other things) for the radiance of his smile. I, for one, can hardly wait to see how his smile will look in the full radiance of God’s glory at the final resurrection.

We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  --Romans 5:3-5

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Comments

Beautifully written, Tom. I share your sorrow, as Paul was one of my students in his elementary school days, a boy who at that tender age knew his identity as a beloved child of God. You write of a boss/employee relationship with Paul; I'd have to claim a teacher/student relationship that went both ways! His joy of life and his words of faith and trust taught powerful lessons. I, too, look forward to seeing that smile and Paul in wholeness.

Thank You for the article about Paul.He is a distant cousin of mine and we were told that he had died. I met him at a cousins reunion I went to with my mother.

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