David Jury - First Speaker at Gordon Winkler's Memorial Service - Saskatoon - Friday, September 9, 2011

Acts 26:22, "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come."

Gordon’s only sibling, his sister Doreen Winkler composed the following obituary:

Gordon Lawrence Winkler, first-born and only son of Emil and Wanda Winkler, arrived on Thursday, September 2nd, 1926 in Yorkton Saskatchewan. Surrounded by four of his loving friends, he died after a turbulent journey through cancer on Saturday, September 3rd, 2011. He is survived by his sister, Dr. Doreen Winkler, who lives in Toronto, and a number of cousins living in Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC.

Gordon and his family moved from Yorkton to Kelvington, Saskatchewan when he was eight years old in 1934. Together with his parents, he learned every aspect of agriculture, absorbed new ideas and improved ways of farming and continuously worked hard until the farm was a highly successful one. At Bates-town School, he was an eager, conscientious, and thoughtful student who, while very young, was a remarkably fine artist who loved to draw. This was clearly demonstrated throughout his life in his beautiful handwriting. He loved music and learned to play the piano. As an adult, he confided to his Mother that he was so glad she made him practice when he was young and didn’t want to. There was always music in the background when Gordon wrote his many letters.

Gordon loved the gift of poetry and great books. When he was in high school studying it, he read Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” to his young sister, explaining the complex plot as he went along. This ignited in her a lifelong love of literature. In fact, he spent endless hours at home, reading to his sister who is blind.

As he grew up, he came to love the prairie spaces, the changing prairie skies, and the flowers, trees, plants and crops that grew on it. He loved and cared for the animals and always had a particular fondness for dogs which lasted all his life.

When he was twenty-four years old, he left the farm to go into the Work, and started out in Saskatchewan. When he was twenty-nine he was called to a foreign land. On his thirtieth birthday, in 1956 he landed in Korea, transported there on a rough freighter with eleven other passengers. He knew little of that country, its people, its culture, or its language. Nevertheless, he quickly learned all these things and laboured there for 27 years, returning to Canada in 1983. On one of his visits to his sister in Toronto, he was shopping with her at a local grocery store when he met and began speaking in Korean with one of the employees. Later, that man declared that Gordon’s Korean was “Perfect! And better than most native Koreans speak.”

When Gordon returned to Canada he realised one of his earliest dreams: he went to live in British Columbia in the Work and remained there until his death. While there, he made many trips to places around the world: Europe, the British Isles, the far east, and South Africa, among others. Yet, he loved the beauty of BC: the mountains, the scenic landscapes, and all the fruit trees and the flowers. He was truly happy in that province and he worked tirelessly, often reaching the point of burn-out and, on a couple of occasions, serious depression. Each time this occurred, he picked himself up, dusted off, and soon recovered, and went right back into the labour he loved as a Worker.

Although Gordon appeared to be of a solemn, rather stern nature, he was a warm, loving, and caring man whose concern for others always exceeded care for himself. He was loved and cherished by so many both in faraway places and in his homeland. In spite of this, he never lost the common touch, and never gave much credence to his successes. He was much more focused on the things he felt he had not done well or could do better. His love of God was foremost in his life and it was clearly apparent in his entire being.

The following is Gordon’s own account of how he began his walk with God, as transcribed by Sandra Perry prior to his death.

In 1912, my Mother’s father, Grampa Breen lost his horses and found himself at Daff Pinder’s home at Springside. It was Wednesday, and Grampa was invited to stay for the meeting. Although his English was limited, he enjoyed the spirit of the meeting. With the hospitality of that day, Grampa stayed the night and when he left in search of the horses the next morning, he was invited back if the horses were not found. Grampa returned on Saturday and was in the meeting again on Sunday. He asked Daff if meetings like that could be in his home. Workers were not very numerous and so Daff and his neighbour, Chris Merriman, had some meetings. A number of folk came, many of them were Lutheran. After awhile, Willie Jamieson was able to come and the separation came as a result. Grampa Breen was the only one who made his choice. Gramma opposed the Truth, saying that Grampa didn’t know anything about these men.” Grampa said that was true, but they had a spirit like men in the Bible.

My Grandmother disliked her daughter (my mother) who, at sixteen years of age, made her choice to follow Jesus, so she and Grandpa would go off to the meetings at the Leonhardt home while the other 11 children went to the Lutheran Church with Gramma. Grampa died when I was six years old in August 1932. He had a severe stomach cancer and the night he died, my Mother was the only one in her large family who would stay up and watch with him. She sent me home with my Dad early in the evening.

My father ran away from home because of opposition in his home. He was forced to learn the catechism and could not find it in the Bible. He went to work for Daff Pinder and, as a result, listened to the Gospel. When my father and mother were married, they lived with Grampa Winkler who was a Lutheran and always wanted Dad to go with him everywhere he went. His sister, my Aunt Mary, was married in BC. His brother, Charlie married and went to Minneapolis to work. He and Aunt Gladys had two children, Lorraine and Betty, who lived and married there.

I made my choice to serve God at age 21. I was working with my father on the farm at Kelvington, when I responded to the call to the Harvest Field. I started in 1950, when I was twenty-four years old. A second call came to go to Korea in 1956, where I laboured until 1983.”

At this time, we mourn Gordon’s passing but we rejoice in the knowledge that he is with God whom he loved and faithfully served with sincerity, love, and true compassion.

Romans 8:38,39 captures this promise to Gordon.

“Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."