Reuben Thomas Friesen

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Born, January 25, 1942 in Chortitz, (Hague) at home on the farm to Mary and John D. Friesen, the first of twins.

Dad grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan and as such he participated in the work that needed to be done on a farm. Daily chores and occasional field work included.

He attended a two-room country school where, according to his report card, he struggled with his grades.

It seemed he also had an occasional struggle with stubbornness. His dad wrote:

“It was a Sunday morning and due to our baby's illness, the boy"s mother was obligated to stay on the farm while I had to preach in the next village. The twins were often full of mischief when left alone. It was decided that the oldest one would go with me to the meeting, but the boy with a strong will of his own had made up his mind not to go. On this morning mother suggested we pray together as a family and leave the matter with the Lord.
At first the oldest found it hard to kneel with the others. After committing all to the lord, no questions were asked; he simply picked up his jacket and took his seat in the Chevy. He found a place in the front pew and listened attentively while his dad delivered the sermon.”?

These things affect us when we are growing up. Yes he was a pastor"s boy, but he was also a twin to Ernest. He was an older brother to his sisters Johanna and Magdalena. When he was ten, his sister Magdalena died and he saw his parents struggle with that loss.

(And from what we could recall as children, it seemed that when dad was growing up he had to do a lot of walking, always uphill, always in a snowstorm and with bare feet.)

He finished up to grade ten by correspondence. And later on during summers he worked at the coop creamery in the ice cream department.

He left for Steinbach Bible Institute which he attended for three years. In his third year he became ill and didn't graduate. He returned home, very discouraged.

It was at that time at SBI on the volleyball court where he met and eventually married the lovely and talented Evie Thiessen. (She helped write this!)

Reuben and Evie were married September 1 1962 in MacGregor, Manitoba.

During those early years Reuben worked in a mattress factory and they lived in a second floor apartment in Winnipeg. A year later Randall was born.

In 1964 they moved to Saskatoon where he did factory work. Gaylene came along a year later, in 1965.

He loved singing and was involved in the music ministry in their local EMMC church, Westmount Evangelical Church.

Eleven months later, Jeffrey was born. And it was during this time that he began to work at Canadian Linen Supply becoming a supervisor in the business. This was a fond memory for his older children who remember seeing much of Saskatchewan as they were able to travel with him on his routes throughout the province.

Five years after Jeff was born mom and dad realized they weren't done having kids. And in 1971, Robyn was added to the family.

During his work which involved heavy lifting, he managed to hurt his back. This was a difficult time for him as he was in constant pain. Eventually, surgery was required on his back which helped enormously, and life got better again.

He was successful in his field of endeavor, which was sales, winning awards and trips which he enjoyed taking with mom. He loved to travel and see new things.

It was at this time that they experienced a call from the EMMC church in Aylmer Ontario to move there and work with the youth and music. This was a huge challenge to consider and it wasn't taken lightly. After much prayer they felt God clearly leading them in that direction so dad and mom moved in a step of faith.

This was not an easy time for them. Finances were very tight and learning a new town, church, and ministry, was difficult enough, let alone being in Ontario in a down time in the economy. Jobs were so scarce.

Still Dad poured himself into the young people and church community there. He cared for these people who were moving up from Mexico, and had a passion for helping them settle into their new lives in Canada.

Later on when he was selling real-estate in Aylmer, he helped to develop a housing complex for low income people and immigrants, eventually serving as administrator for that development project.

This time of his life also saw him involved more in EMMC board work and ministry. He was quite active in the development and growth of Aylmer Bible School, which he loved.

Not only was he involved in the youth and church choir, but he loved coaching the church baseball team. Golf was also something he enjoyed with his friends. Many times he could be found having coffee at the coffee shop with someone from the community, or driving them around helping them to find a place to live. He loved the fruit that southern Ontario would produce each year and exploring that area of Canada was something he and mom enjoyed doing.

He was beginning to hit his stride in life when in 1997 the diagnosis of a genetic liver disease turned out to be a most difficult for challenge for them.

This diagnosis brought him and his wife back to Saskatoon where the disease progressed and resulted in two liver transplants.

Through these many difficult years he remained positive which was a testament to his faith and outlook on life. It was always amazing to us that each new twist and turn of the disease which brought increased pain or suffering, would be met with the simple; “We'll take each thing as it comes, one at a time.”?

In different ways during those years, he communicated his deep appreciation and thankfulness for his life's partner, Evie. He was always aware of the support of his family and friends and this meant so much to him.

Less and less he could leave the apartment, so he would set his tasks to the work he could do at home. Each day, even though it was difficult, he would take time to read his bible, reading through it five times in these later years.

Near the end, even though unable to get to church, hymn videos and gathier videos were a comfort to him, as he prepared for the future.

Dad's faith in Jesus Christ as his Saviour was the bedrock of his life. He wrote:

“In the early Fifties, I was faced with the question, is your heart black or white. Dealing with the issue of Jesus living in my heart... Well, now was the question, what color was my heart? That night before I went to bed I had asked Jesus to come into my heart. That is when my life was change to a new creation.

My life has not always been a life of living pure and white however Jesus is there to help me along through struggles and times of distress. Faith is something that if you grasp it and hold on to, it will take you through many difficulties, valleys and even hills to climb.”?

These past weeks were increasingly difficult for dad as his body was unable to absorb the precious oxygen, he so desperately needed. Early on the morning of June 23 he was rushed to St. Paul's Hospital.

He was unresponsive for most of the morning, then suddenly he awoke. He struggled through the afternoon with much discomfort and difficulty with breathing. But during that time he joked a bit and we made short term plans which he was looking forward to. Throughout the day the struggle for comfort and oxygen wore him out.

On the morning of June 24 held safely in the arms of his best friend Evie, he slipped the bonds of earth and was gone.

He was an ordinary man through whom God did some extraordinary things.


  1. Recently, I heard a character in a play say "Don't ask why someone had to die, ask why they had to live..." The idea being that we then can appreciate the person and their life all the more. You have done that in your article and it is a privilege to share in that. Every blessing

  2. He may have been "ordinary" but it sounds like he didn't let ordinary become an excuse for not living his life to the full.

    May God's presence be close today as you celebrate his life.

  3. What a beautiful inspiring tribute. I am grateful you shared it with us.

  4. Thanks Randall. A beautiful tribute to your dear dad, Reuben Thomas Friesen.

    I know God will be walking with you today.

  5. I am so glad you posted this for us to read. My prayers are with your family today.

    "He was an ordinary man through whom God did some extraordinary things". Like father, like son. :)

    My only wish in life is that people will be able to say the same about me at the end of my life.

    Your Dad is hearing a hearty "Well done"!

  6. I am writing to ask if you could help me in finding a copy of Holding Forth the Word of Life .I was shown a copy by my dad this week which he recieved from a family member.My father is John Shapansky he is the son of John Schapansky your moms brother.He chose to change the spelling of our last name.I was able to see pictures of our family I have never seen before.My father does not know much about his family heritage and I would like to know as much as possible about my geneology. Zina Shapansky Harrison Mills B.C.


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