David Powlison – with thanksgiving to God

On Friday 7th June at 11am with his family at his side, David Powlison, the Executive Director of CCEF, was taken to glory to be with the Lord for ever.

David was diagnosed with an inoperable stage IV pancreatic cancer last November. He had chemotherapy to delay the progression of the disease and remained well enough to continue his work with CCEF until just last month. However, his health declined very rapidly over the past couple of weeks and he died peacefully at home. Details of the memorial service on Tuesday 18th June, which will be live streamed, can be found on the CCEF website.

Biblical Counselling UK has so many reasons to be grateful to God for David’s life and ministry. He spoke at the very first conference we ever organised – Changing Hearts in 2013 – which launched the work of BC UK. Since that time, David not only expressed a close interest in the development of BC UK, but was very generous with his help and encouragement, and he became a close friend to many of us.

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people tell me just how richly transformative David’s teaching in the Dynamics of Biblical Change course was for them. I am one of those people. I can still recall the place I was sitting when I first read his paper Suffering and Psalm 119. It was like scales were falling from my eyes as David led me to see with greater clarity than ever before the personal relationship to which God had called me. He showed me from the psalm just what an ‘I-thou’ relationship should look like and I have prayed differently ever since.

I feel privileged to have been able to count David as a personal friend. I cannot do justice to the many ways he influenced me personally.

I remember David once passing on the observation that true wisdom was not marked by a simple accumulation of knowledge but by a growing ability to hold together complementary biblical truths without allowing either one of them to be eclipsed.  As I reflect on David, his writing, his teaching and his counsel in our many conversations together, I am struck by the way he exemplified this very thing in his own life.

David was a glorious mix of things. He was blessed by God with a wonderfully incisive intellectual rigour. Yet he was at the same time wonderfully warm and personable. David could, and did, speak easily with everyone.

He was also determined and robust in his defence of biblical truth. Giving no quarter in argument, he would prosecute his arguments with ruthless logic. Yet David was also the gentlest of men – I have not met a kinder or more thoughtful and loving person.

David got things done. He worked tirelessly in his service of Christ as he sought to advance the work of the biblical counselling movement which meant so much to him. Yet in another sense I want to say that David also seemed to have one foot in heaven. His life was worship. He always wanted to pray. He seemed to live every moment in conscious awareness of the presence of Christ and his spirituality was infectious.

We have so many reasons to give thanks to God for the life and ministry of David Powlison. He instructed, inspired, counselled and befriended us. We will sorely miss him.

Please pray for his wife, Nan, their three children and their families, and the CCEF family. He leaves such a big hole in all of their lives – do pray that Christ will be their comfort in loss.