A Loving Tribute to the “People’s Preacher”
People didn’t merely like Peter Orasuk, they loved him! If Princess Diana was the “People’s Princess,” as she was called in her death, then Peter Orasuk was the “People’s Preacher!” I have never witnessed so many grown men, women, and children moved to tears, and weeping openly, as they did at brother Orasuk’s funeral. His meteoric rise in spiritual development was only equaled by a deep personal love for the Lord’s people and a love for the souls of men. Many would ask, “Who is this man?”
One of the head professors of the Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia pleaded with Peter in those early turbulent years, as he was entrapped in the drug world, to leave it and put his intelligence and ability into a career that would count. He personally told Peter, he didn’t know another student on that large campus that had his potential. As Peter tells in his testimony, he wasn’t listening.
Peter’s habits, as treacherous and ruinous as they were, became no match for the One Who is “stronger than the strong man.” Christ delivered Peter from Satan’s power. Bursting forth from the chains that bound him came this young man. Is it any wonder his favorite hymn was “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”!
After conversion, Peter became an avid student of the Word and continued until his health started to steal his ability to concentrate. He spent hours in it, enjoyed it, shared it, and became a channel of blessing to those who listened to his ministry. I understand the Word of God reveals itself to our hearts, but I know of no other man that could capture the sense of any given passage, and interpretation, as quickly as our brother. This was very obvious to any that shared or heard him in a Bible Reading. Such ability never went to his head, but to his heart! He not only got a hold of divine truth, but the same got hold of him. Only in recent years, did he ever have a note in his Bible, but he never boasted about it.
Peter was very human. We were either sharing with or stealing from each other! When one of us brought up something we had enjoyed from the Scriptures, the retort of the other was, “I learned that the night I was saved!” Once, after hearing that, he figured he’d had enough and said, “That must have been a long night!” We shared our clothes, our glasses, and our Bibles. There were times in ministry meetings that I had to leave my glasses on the pulpit for him, as his were either forgotten, lost, or broken!
Once when I visited Charlottetown, he told me before a ministry meeting, “Now be careful what you minister. They may have heard it here before.”
Peter Orasuk could illustrate truth like no one else. It made his message live in your mind. Some may try to bring a little light to a subject with a related story, but Peter could illustrate it.
He was a big man, and a strong man, physically and spiritually. He was big enough, when he thought something through and realized he was wrong, that he could admit it. He didn’t keep score; if he felt in the least way he owed you an apology, you had it, even if you thought it wasn’t needed. His opinion was more than just agreeing with the last person he talked to!
His father in the faith, Mr. Albert Ramsay, had a tremendous impact on Peter, who was rightly named – there was an impetuous side to him. Brother Ramsay did his best to help Peter in light of this quality. Peter would be invited to a place, and brethren would encourage me to bring him. At times Mr. Ramsay let us know he was not happy that Peter was going and that I was taking him. However, I knew he loved greatly. The nicest things Albert Ramsay said about either of us, he said to others, and we valued the commendation of this esteemed, veteran servant!
No woman other than Maxine was ever meant for Peter Orasuk! She was such a true helpmeet. She was there for him all the time. Not once in the work would his overburdened wife, carrying the load at home, ever insist he had to come home and leave the meetings!
I enjoyed his company so much, I miss him greatly, and the hardest part is to conclude my tribute to a great friend and beloved brother.