Pastor Bill Furler was famous for his big smile, huge laugh, and passion for sharing the Christian message of hope and joy through Christ.
Pastor Bill Furler was famous for his big smile, huge laugh, and passion for sharing the Christian message of hope and joy through Christ.

Bill Furler remembered: God's great Aussie adventurer

DAD had one of those smiles which would open up his face so much it would close his eyes.

As he entered a room, you couldn't miss the trademark white moustache and hair, that beaming grin, those pearly whites, and that huge laugh.

He loved life, loved people - and loved adventure.

And for more than 40 years, he travelled the world sharing the Christian message, sometimes in countries where people were hearing it for the first time.

He didn't quite reach the 200 million that evangelist Billy Graham did, but he certainly had a big impact on thousands of lives.

As children, we travelled with him and my mum Rosalie throughout outback Australia, often setting up tents in the middle of nowhere as dad shared messages of hope with some of this country's most destitute inhabitants.

His overwhelming passion was for the Pacific Islands, the people of Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Dad loved their simple way of living, the sense of country and culture, their incredible singing and their simple faith.

He saw the joy in those people - joy often missing from westerners with far more wealth and possessions.

His travels also took him to Albania after the fall of communism, as well as Asia, Africa, and India.

Dad also was the pastor for my brother Peter's band Newsboys for many years, travelling on the road with them - and at the same time promoting the work of World Vision at their shows.

For most of his 78 years, he had amazing health but he had been hit pretty hard by illness in recent months.

His cancer diagnosis came as a complete shock.

But through the last few weeks, his faith remained as firm as ever - as did his appreciation for my mum, who remained by his side for every step of his chemotherapy.

In the end, however, dad was just too weak to go on, despite a heart that just keep beating faster and faster as he fought an infection in the Intensive Care Unit at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

Dad, a father of six and much loved granddad, was surrounded by his extended family in the end.

We listened to his favourite inspirational music, prayed, laughed and shared stories.

As he finally put his life in God's hands just before 4am last Sunday, Amazing Grace, a song which was not on the playlist, began. It was like God telling us that everything was okay.

The soundtrack of dad's life was that salvation message.

We are all fallen. None of us are worthy apart from Christ.

Dad was not a religious man. He had a relationship with Jesus, one he was keen to share with others.

In recent years, he shared through Church on the Beach, a weekly message from scripture featuring the sunrises of his beloved Buddina Beach and beyond.

A celebration of dad's life will be held at the Gregson and Weight Chapel at 159 Wises Road, Buderim at 10.30am on Monday, February 26. Donations to the Adem Crosby Centre in lieu of flowers.

Angels in the night

ONE of my proudest moments as editor in chief of the Sunshine Coast Daily was helping to spearhead the campaign against delays to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

Staff from the Daily joined more than 1500 at a public rally and march against delays to the much needed facility.

I remember vividly the determination of Brian Ginn, a terminally ill Wurtulla war veteran, who became the public face of the fight for our $1.8 billion facility as he was pushed in a wheelchair by Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie.

In the past couple of weeks, the Sunshine Coast University Hospital became a second home to my mum, dad - and myself, as we watched dad get state of the art care that previously had only been available from Brisbane.

Sunshine Coast Daily front page, November 9, 2009.
Sunshine Coast Daily front page, November 9, 2009.

I told dad of our 'Hospital Now' campaign, something he was personally benefiting from as he underwent diagnosis, then treatment for cancer in the Adem Crosby Centre.

The passion and dedication of doctors, nurses and specialists trying to save my dad's life is something mum and I will never forget.

In dad's final hours, as we brought in family to say goodbye, the compassion of the doctors and nursing staff in the Intensive Care Unit was faultless.

To dad, they were his angels in the night.

Mark Furler has been a journalist on the Sunshine Coast for more than 30 years. He is News Corp's group digital editor overseeing more than 50 regional news websites.