Tribute: Robert Boyle (1)

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A Man of God

Robert Boyle (affectionately Bob) was born in Belfast on May 26, 1922, to God-fearing Methodist parents. Although he spoke little about his childhood, he often referred to his eldest brother Willie who died of tuberculosis as a teenager. This seemed to have had a sobering effect on Bob’s childhood and impressed on him the uncertainty of life.

As a young man of sixteen he attended a gospel meeting one evening searching for answers to questions which weighed on his heart. That night he came to know the satisfaction of Christ as his Savior. As he left Ebenezer Gospel Hall that night, he immediately shared his new-found faith with his best friend who had been waiting for him on the street corner. Thus began his lifelong passion of sharing the gospel whenever opportunity arose.

Bob worked in the sheet metal trade for a number of years, using his spare time to tell of the saving power found in Christ. His interest in visiting the wards of Newtonards hospital to distribute gospel literature led him to speak to a young nurse, Jean Neill, about obtaining permission from the head nurse to do so. This contact with Jean became the beginning of a special friendship. Two years later they were married. She became a wonderful complement to Bob as the love of his life until the Lord took her home in 1999. The Lord blessed the Boyles with three daughters and a son and fifteen grandchildren. Jean became the anchor of his home in the years when he was often away preaching.

As a young man Bob developed a growing desire to serve the Lord in Canada. In 1951 the young family immigrated to Thunder Bay, Ontario. From there he was commended in 1953 to full-time service for the Lord. Bob made frequent visits to the Prairies where the Lord generously blessed his preaching. He was closely involved with the work which led to the formation of the assemblies in Ashfield and Binscarth. Eventually the family moved to Brandon, Manitoba, so he could be closer to his field of service. As a result, the family has enjoyed the love and support of the dear saints in Brandon for all of these years.

As a son-in-law I came to know Dad as a very consistent man. His study of the Scriptures, his private prayer life, his passion for the gospel, and his love of music marked him throughout the years. Quiet and reserved by nature, he would never thrust himself on people. His influence on people came from his own deep convictions on spiritual matters and in his genuine interest in individuals. He was formal and serious on the platform, but in private he was known by many for his quick sense of humor. Families with whom he stayed while traveling referred to him as a gracious guest in the home and looked forward to his return.

Bob was a careful student of the Scriptures. He spent hours even in later life pouring over its pages, grappling with difficult concepts, and consulting his extensive collection of commentaries. His messages were simple in relation to his depth of Bible knowledge. Often using illustrations from Bible stories, his points were unmistakable. One brother who grew up in Brandon said, “Mr. Boyle impressed me with the importance of handling the Word of God accurately. I don’t ever recall a time when he twisted the Word to make it say something it didn’t.”

Bob was also very much appreciated in Bible Readings. He had much to offer, but he never sought to parade his knowledge. His frequent use of questions drew others into the conversation. He genuinely wanted to hear the input of his brethren over and above what he himself had to say. His questions provided an excellent insight into the content of the passage.

A few years ago, Dad shared with the family that he had been praying for the salvation of three particular men for a long time, in one case more than forty years. Almost ashamedly he confessed that recently he had expressed to the Lord his discouragement in not knowing answers to these prayers. Shortly after sharing this concern, he received the news that two of these men were saved under most unusual circumstances. What evidence that God still takes note of persistent prayer!

Dad loved music. Whether it was listening to George Beverly Shea as he drove in the car, whistling his favorite hymns as he did household chores, or singing around the piano with the family, he was thankful that, from the moment he was saved as a teenager, God had put a new song into his mouth, even praise unto his God. He believed that singing in our meetings was an important part of each meeting – the right hymn, the right tune, sung well and from the heart was well-pleasing to the Lord. Even in the last year or two of his life as his memory failed so that he was not able to experience life as once he did, he enjoyed offering the sacrifice of praise. His clear voice lingers still in the memory of many who knew him.

Dad rarely spoke about those whom he had led to the Lord. Since his promotion to glory on July 13th many believers have told us with appreciation of how he had been used of the Lord in leading to their salvation. “How beautiful . . . are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace” (Isa 52:7).

Dad’s vision was single – to know Christ through His Word and to make Him known. He consistently spent his life in pursuit of this most worthy vision. He has now realized fully what for so long was only an aspiration: “I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness” (Psa 17:15).