Thank You Papa Straws
By Bill MacLeod, Executive Director
When our oldest went to college in SoCal, his roommate was the son of a pastor in the area, so he began attending that church his freshman year. As our other kids began attending the same college, they joined their brother for services each Sunday. My wife and I always looked forward to connecting with this pastor and his wife when we worshipped with our kids there, and we became close friends as they looked out for our kids, and so many other college students who called this church their home away from home. Not surprisingly, they affectionately dubbed him “Papa Straws”.
Papa Straws had been a successful youth pastor before taking this pastorate and he enjoyed involving students in the ongoing ministry of the church. Our sons used their talents in a capital campaign where they gained confidence in their respective fields. In recent years he asked one son to create the cover of one of his books and would always tell me how many people commented on that cover.
He was a caring and effective pastor, but we grieved and commiserated with them when they were no longer pastoring that congregation. I never heard them complain but, in the process, he recognized he had a deep interest in helping people understand and live out their faith. So, he went back and got a second advanced degree, this time in apologetics. Soon he started his own apologetics ministry.
In 2015 we began welcoming him to lead the entire Apologetics Workshop track at Mission ConneXion Northwest every January. Year after every year he came up on his own dime. There was no one who worked more diligently, and he knew months in advance what topics he was going to be presenting. Of the 100+ workshops to choose from his were always the highest attended year after year, attracting all ages. For years he also came up to speak at our Student ConneXion events. He loved kids and wanted them to be as informed and excited about knowing what they believed as he was.
He was always the picture of health but in mid-December 2021, he suffered a heart attack. He let me know he was well and following doctor’s orders, but he still came up and, pacing himself, presenting all four of his workshops and preached at a local church on Sunday. He was already gearing up and preparing what he would present next January when we spoke in March.
On the Monday of Holy Week, he texted me sharing how well the follow up visit to his cardiologist had gone that day and how encouraged he was. Early the next day, I received a text from him and gave him a thumbs up response. Later that afternoon, my son called to share that Papa Straws, Dr. Brent Strawsburg, had suddenly passed away. To say I was in shock is an understatement…but I am comforted that this dedicated servant, and my friend, heard “Well done” and spent Resurrection Sunday in the presence of Jesus.
As news began to spread on the internet, I began receiving texts from people also in shock asking me if it was true. One of our volunteers who now lives on the East Coast and used to interact with Brent regularly on his Workshops, phoned me fighting back tears, remembering how he always asked how she and their little daughter were doing. No greater tribute can be given but that of a former colleague who said: “Brent was a great pastor but an even better husband, and father”. Fortunately, he recently downloaded all his teachings on to his Brent Strawsburg Apologetics website so his legacy will continue to impact lives as people tune in, and purchase his compelling books: Finding God in Pain and Loss,
His memorial service will be May 13, 2022, at 11:00 at CrossPoint Church in Huntington Beach, CA. Please pray for his wife and their family.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.