Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Meleisa Witter | Ian Boyne: The measure of the man

Published:Tuesday | December 26, 2017 | 1:25 AM

​The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I was on my way to work and my head grew light and I felt a heat in my belly as someone called me to say, “Mel, I heard something about Ian, is it true? ... I think you should check with his family.” And in that moment I knew.

I knew that one of the two most important persons in my life ceased to exist on this side of the great divide. It is said the two most significant days in one’s life are the day one is born and the day one discovers his purpose for being born. I credit Ian Boyne with the latter. Destiny had brought us together eight years ago and our zeal for the truth and God's way brokered a friendship which weathered many interesting storms.

“The only dream I have remaining to be fulfilled is to die in the faith,” was a common mantra of his. And so on Monday, December 18, 2017 my friend, my pastor, my mentor became one of the few persons who has succeeded in ticking every item on his bucket list - even in death.

But even as I contemplated that, my tears gushed forth unchecked. They were selfish tears. but that made them no less painful.

You won't ever sit in that second chair to the front right of that pew. You won’t laugh that hearty, uproarious laugh when someone skilfully sneaks in some humour in a message.
You will never anticipate and diffuse the seemingly deep questions of your opponents.
You will never call to say, ‘I'm just checking in on you...’ You will never … The list could go on forever.

And in spite of my resolve that I'd rather lose you to death than to Satan it still hurt. It hurt to know that you survived five heart attacks only to succumb to antibiotic tablets. It hurt to know that the ticks on the whatsapp message I sent you will never turn blue.
It hurts to know that I will never be able to go to you for counsel. For wise were your words, biblical your anchor and philosophical your thoughts.

It hurts to know I will never see you dancing in godly ecstasy as the praise team leads out It's Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory. It hurts to know ... And so I cried.

But I refuse to mourn as one without hope as in so doing I would dishonour your memory, what you have taught us and all you lived for.

I consider myself fortunate to have been called your friend and your confidante. Your humility and commitment to truth, valour and decency were the vanguard of your existence.

You cherished knowing that you were right, but could live with being told you were wrong. You had a generosity of spirit, which was endearing. An apology, no matter how egregious the wrong, was never refused.

And when you forgave, you tried to forget. Even long conversations would invariably end with a word of gratitude for the time spent and the value of the discussion and would then still be followed up with a quick message saying, ‘thank you for speaking with me...’

In you I had a great example of things I'd read in the Bible such as: See a man diligent in his work, he will not stand before mere men, he will stand before kings. You taught me that I could live a life of unwavering commitment to the truth I held so dear - my quest for salvation and still succeed in this world.

You taught me that Christianity was not the lot of the poor and disenfranchised only, but by following biblical principles of self-control, respect, denying gratification and hard work, all of this world’s goods could be gained, even as we lived for the Kingdom of God. 

One can only imagine your gruelling hours. You made institutions of everything you touched and now leave in your wake huge gaps to be filled. JIS, the Church of God International, The Gleaner’s In focus, Sunday and Tuesday slots at TVJ, speech writing for heads of state and other figureheads, books being written, and without a doubt your home and the hearts of so many who knew and loved you are just some.

Being larger than life, of course you had detractors. Heck, the Christ did too. But even those who did not have the testicular fortitude to stand up to your A-type personality have to grudgingly admit that you were the best in so many ways. You perfected discipline. Your self-sacrifice was second to none. You were the last one to leave church almost every Sabbath after service for 45 years.

You became the model for servant leadership as you stood with the poor and lowly as easily as you sat with the prosperous and lofty. You did your best to dispense counsel and discipline without fear or favour. You tried to live what you believed. You were a stellar example. And I know if you could do it again, you would change nothing. That was the measure of the man you were.

I loathe to think that all those thousands of books you read and the thousands of interviews hosted and the millions of bits of information absorbed will never again stand up to the challenge and scrutiny of your detractors or even those who just respectfully want to engage the best.

You lived as one who understood the transience of our time here. You recounted on numerous occasions the impact Herbert Armstrong and his book The 7 Laws of Success had on you. And so you wasted no time – making your mark and living a full life. Full of hard work, yes, but also full of love and laughter and music and fine dining and fine clothing. You had a penchant for beauty and quality and you earned the right to access and enjoy them maximally.   

My dear pastor, friend, counsellor, confidante, author … the path you have taken is one set for all mortals. Having gone on ahead of me, I won’t envy your rest. But I do anticipate that day when next we meet, when we will be clothed in immortality never again to part. Sleep in peace.

- Meleisa Witter is Manager of Pelican Publishers and a member of the Church of God International. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and melcwitter@gmail.com