Monday, December 19, 2011

Remembering My Friend

My friend, Steve Holtrust, died in Honduras on Monday, December 5. He died doing what he loved—helping others. Steve had flown down to Honduras the day before to help a friend who is a missionary. She had lost her husband in a car accident just a few days before. Steve was driving their rental car when an unknown gunman shot at their car and killed him. Even in his death, Steve was somehow able to negotiate the car off the road and no one else was physically injured.

Steve Holtrust
The first time I met Steve was when I was visiting Humberto Del Arca, another missionary friend, on the North Coast of Honduras. Steve drove up in a pick up truck and said, “Howdy!” I remember thinking at that time how infectious his smile was, when out of the truck popped this 6 foot 5 inch man. He was a little intimidating at first, but I soon learned how warm and gregarious he was. That was about 14 years ago.

I enjoyed learning that he grew up on a dairy farm and I loved how he would use illustrations about cows and the dairy farm to explain things. Steve had a wonderful way of stating the obvious and using questions as statements, like asking, “Whose going to pray?,” when really meaning—we’re going to pray now. He was someone you were always happy to see and I just enjoyed spending time with him.

His brother, Mark, said: “For at least twenty-nine years that I know of, Steve had a vision and worked toward helping and supporting those whose full-time occupation is to spread the Good News about Jesus.” Steve was outspoken about his faith and his desire to serve missionaries and God’s work. I had the privilege of serving with him for a little over a year on the Beyond Partnership Board. His insights and wisdom were a great value—and more importantly—he loved people and shared that openly. “Steve’s faith in Christ was the center of his life,” his pastor said, “He didn't do this simply because he was a selfless man, he did this to honor Christ. That was his life.”

Steve was firefighter for 32 years with the Ontario Fire Department in California. He worked his way to the rank of Deputy Fire Chief; the rank he held at the time of his retirement in 2007. He volunteered as a Chaplain for the Fire Department. In 1996, Steve began going on mission trips with his church. He traveled to countries like Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Jamaica and Kenya. He showered God's love on the poor of these countries through his personal resources and physical labor. He also helped with a good friend's deaf ministry called Signs of Love in Honduras. He was the President of the Board for Beyond Partnership, the ministry I work with. He was a faithful member and very active in his church, North Hills Community where he served as an elder. Steve had been married to his wonderful wife Debbie for 36 years and was the father of three daughters as well as three grandchildren.

“My husband died doing what he does best, and that is serving the Lord and being with friends,” is how his wife, Debbie, described his death. This is who Steve was and the legacy he leaves behind—a Godly, humble, caring and giving man who touched the lives of so many, including me. I’m going to miss my friend and his infectious smile.

Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2: 3-5

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