Friday, November 28, 2008

In Memoriam: Liam Iwig-O' Byrne (1967-2008)

Liam Iwig-O'Byrne passed away on November 13, 2008 in an automobile accident in Forth Worth, Texas where he lived with his wife Cara and his children, Cian and Warren. From his obituary: "He was a pastor, teacher, and a true servant."

Liam was one of the first guys I met at Aldersgate College. I was a new Christian at the time, and I headed off to the foreign land of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to attend Bible College. Liam was my senior by a year in age and two years ahead of me at Aldersgate, and he made an immediate impression on me. He was a budding young theologian at the time. He was also a spiritual leader on the campus. Those of us guys who were there will never forget the prayer meetings that sometimes lasted until 3 or 4 in the morning. Liam was a big part of that. He introduced me to the writings of Charles Finney, and constantly challenged me in my thinking as I developed my theology. It was a wild, wacky, formative period in my life.

I also attended seminary with Liam, starting a couple of years after he did. My first year I spent a lot of time at the trailer that he lived in, playing cards with his roommate and another friend of ours from Aldersgate. We had our share of theological differences, and had many long conversations. After seminary Liam moved away and I didn't keep up with him that much. Tricia and I did visit him and his wife, Cara, when they were living in Kansas many years ago and also last year when they were living in Texas.

Liam left a comment on this blog on the post from October 3, 2008 that can still be seen. He complimented me on my blog and gave me some encouraging words. It was the first time he had left a comment on my blog. Those are the last words I'll receive from Liam in this life. It's a sobering thought. Liam was forty-one years old when he died. Forty-one. That number really hits home for me. I just turned forty this year. Liam left behind a wife and two children.

It's times like these that remind me what are the really important things in life. The book of James speaks to this.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."
James 4:13-15

It's so important that we live our lives in light of eternity. It will be here before we know it. Are you seeking to do God's will for your life? That's the only thing that will really matter in the end. Whatever you do, pursue God's will. Treasure your loved ones - family, church, co-workers and so on. And be thankful for them. We are only given one life to live. May we honor God with what we have been given.


Jason Silver said...

Hi John,

I enjoy your blog very much-- read every article.

As you know, I was Liam's room-mate at Aldersgate College. It's so disconcerting that a life can be snuffed out so quickly, so harshly. I mourn for his wife and sons.

Thanks for your memoriam. I loved Liam's quirky sense of humour and passion-filled theological arguments. I look forward to the day when sorrows end, and we can be all reunited.


John Fraser said...

Hey Jason!

Thanks for the comment. Actually I had forgotten that you and Liam were roommates. But now that I remember, you were quite the odd couple! Those are good memories from those days. It sure seems like a long time ago now. I guess it has been 17 years since graduation for us - hard to believe.

Thanks for keeping in touch, my friend. I'm encouraged that you read my blog. I hope you find it helpful and encouraging on your journey with the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the beautifully written tribute. I can only imagine what college must have been like for you guys - no - wait. Better not even GO there! We have appreciated your friendship and I hope you continue to keep in touch. Blessings.


John Fraser said...


I have a picture of Liam from college sitting in a chair, dressed in a really nerdy blue 3-piece suit, doing the hand sign for the Vulcan "live long and prosper." I have it on my Facebook page. Liam even commented on it once a few months ago. He said, "Ah, yes, from my days as Dork-in-chief"! Liam's quirky sense of humor is one thing I'll always remember.

Thanks for your post. You have our deepest sympathies and condolences, and our prayers as you move ahead. God bless you and your family.

Teri Kojetin said...

John, I don't know you , but I was glad to read your comment on Liam. I am his sister, Teri. He was 7 years younger than me. I still can hardly believe he is gone. But I can rejoice that he is with our Lord in Heaven.

John Fraser said...


Thanks for your comment. I'm sure Liam told me about you at some point - I heard about the whole O' Byrne clan at some point and even made a visit to your mom's house once a very long time ago. It's such a distant memory (before Liam was even married) that I can barely remember anything except for the fact that I was there along with another friend.

Thanks again for your comment, and God bless you and yours in this coming year.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome. My husband & I went to Bethany College of Missions in Minnesota in 1978-1982. After that we went under Bethany Missions to Mexico for 15 years. We returned to the States in 1998.

Teri Kojetin said...

Oops, that anonymous comment was me, Teri, I meant to have my name on it.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I was one of Iwig-O’Byrne's student at the school where he taught. Iwig-O’Byrne, or as he was called Dr. Wiggy, was loved very much and is missed. It id hard to believe that human life is so fragile.

John Fraser said...


Thanks for your comment. That makes me smile to think of Liam being called "Dr. Wiggy!"

God bless.

About me

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My ministry in Hungary involved teaching theology and training Hungarian church planters. I have a great interest in apologetics as well as missions.