Tribute: James B. Currie

Mr. James (Jim) Burns Currie was born on April 5, 1929, and called home on October 5, 2019, aged 90. He left school at the age of 12 when he and his family were moved to the country where they would be much safer from the bombings. They returned to Belfast, and when he was around 14 years old, he began to work in the drawing office of Harland & Wolff, the world-renowned ship building factory. He had the ability to go onto higher education, but his family needed another wage to boost their income.

Jim had a friend, Tommy Hill, who lived close by and took Jim to the Parkgate Avenue Gospel Hall Sunday School and gospel meeting, where he learned the gospel. After he had been working at H&W for about one month he heard there was a meeting at the lunch break. He thought it was to select a football [soccer] team, but it was a testimony meeting and God spoke to him. The following Lord’s Day two policemen faithfully preached the gospel in Parkgate. After the meeting Jim went home, and in his bedroom, he trusted the Saviour. The next day, as he rode his bicycle to work, the truth of John 5:24 gave him the assurance of salvation.

His growth in spiritual matters was obvious and he was soon baptized and received to the fellowship of the Parkgate Avenue assembly, where he became involved in every aspect of the assembly’s work. He heard about Japan from the news bulletins that were plentiful because of World War II. He was deeply impressed at a missionary meeting where a report of the work in Japan was given. Jim was encouraged by brethren such as Mr. Tom Hay, Mr. Bobbie Wright and Mr. Leonard Mullan, all of whom had firsthand knowledge of the work of the Lord in Japan. He found a book in the Belfast library on how to speak Japanese and he, with a few others, met regularly in Mr. Mullan’s home for basic language study.

In 1947 he left N. Ireland for Vancouver where he could get a visa to enter post-war Japan. When all administration procedures were complete, he left Vancouver for Japan in 1949. During that 2-year period he met the girl who was to become his beloved wife, Edythe Topping. Jim was 20 years old. Edythe arrived in 1950 and they were married in Tokyo.

His life was marked by faithfulness to the Word, fruitfulness in his work and fearlessness in his witness. He was an ardent and accurate student of the Word and an able teacher of divine truth. He was a man of deep conviction and stood firmly, faithfully, yet graciously, for the whole counsel of God. These were qualities that I appreciated when I got to know him as a friend in the early 1970s. His speed of thought and mental alertness were very obvious as he conducted Bible Readings, and these abilities lasted well into his eighties. In 2000 we preached the gospel together in Carleton, Vancouver, for a number of weeks. The brethren teased us saying they were very hot meetings, with 2 Curries every night! When these meetings concluded we drove, in Jim’s camper van, from Vancouver to Phoenix, visiting various assemblies en route.

An illustration of his humility was seen in that, when we arrived at Palm Springs and parked the van, he insisted that he would sleep in the van and I would have the bed in the gospel hall. It could be said, “Let this mind be in you” (Php 2:5).

We were together in Japan in 2003 when Jim acted as my interpreter. A good interpreter knows where the speaker’s message is going and what verse is coming next. Jim excelled at this. The ministry just flowed and was not a hesitant, stop-start situation. In almost 65 years in Japan he never stopped learning the language. He wrote expository books in both English and Japanese, edited a monthly Japanese Christian magazine, and contributed to the “Glory series” of books published by Assembly Testimony. He visited Korea, Malaysia, India, Egypt, Zambia, UK, Europe, USA and Canada. He has left a rich heritage for a rising generation.

In conclusion, we recall Philippians 2:25, that could be said of Jim: “my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants” (KJV). He was in the: Family (“my brother” – Affection), Field (“companion in labor” – Affinity), Fight (“fellowsoldier” – Affliction), Fellowship (“your messenger”– Affiliation).

He is survived by his sorrowing wife of 69 years, Edythe; 2 sons, 3 daughters and their spouses; 10 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; 3 sisters, one brother and their spouses; many nieces and nephews, for whom prayer is requested.