In memory of Justin Priebe (1986-2013)
Update: This post has already been seen by well over 4000 people and testifies to the impact that Justin has had – and continues to have – among so many people.
We were all deeply saddened to hear that Justin Priebe – our brother, friend and Holsby alum (2004-05) – went to be with the Lord after an unexpected heart attack last Saturday night. He was only 26 years old.
The entire Holsby family joins in expressing our condolences to Justin’s parents, Phillip and Susan, his brother Andrew and sister Amy, and the other members of his family and his many friends. The outpouring of memories and expressions of love on Facebook from his fellow Holsby students are a small indication of the impact that Justin had in his all-too-brief life.
In the very last issue of the NewsUpdate, edited for so many years by Donna Schoon, Justin shared his testimony with our readers. We thought it would be fitting to include his words of encouragement once more – this time as a tribute to Justin and to the Lord he loved and served. As you read his testimony, please remember his loved ones in prayer.
Written one year ago by Justin Priebe:
Torchbearers in Sweden changed my life! I would say the only requirement for having a life-changing experience at Torchbearers would be going with an open mind and allowing the Spirit to soften one’s heart. My heart was hard. I didn’t show emotion, much less have many emotions. These are all the lies preached to us daily in the world in which we live. Taking a year away from the lies, away from the world, which we are told is ruled by Satan, the prince of the air (Ephesians 2:2–3), was incredibly vital for my spiritual and physical well-being, both at that time and right now in my life.
[As a student], I was very much out of place for the first month or so, but the tight-knit Christian community was exactly what I needed. No television or movies was the rule when I attended in 2004. This meant no secular gospel. It took me a while to adjust, but after a little while there was not a single person, student or staff, that I was not friends with, nor could I have a deep conversation with. Out of 65–70 people, I thought that was pretty amazing. I was hit over the head with so much truth, some of which I had heard before, but for whatever reason it only then took root. I rededicated my life to God. I enjoyed Holsby so much I stayed an extra 3 months and worked in the ropes course. When I got home, it was obvious to everyone I was a different person.
I started attending a Christian college when I got back, but I was looking for the community I had at Holsby and could not find it in this larger school. Once again the secular gospel of this world occupied so much more of my time and life than did the Gospel of Christ. As a result, I started to slide. It starts very slowly, but once it builds momentum it is very hard to stop.
In 2007, I was working as a carpenter, not attending church, and very much in sync with the world. (That isn’t a good thing). On my way to work one morning, a car turned right in front of my motorcycle and my life as I knew it ended! Five vertebrae were broken, and I suffered nine skull fractures and a moderate brain injury. It’s been nearly five years, and I am still dealing with the results of this accident daily. But God is good. I should not be alive, let alone walking and talking. I thank all the people from Torchbearers, Sweden, and around the world for the many prayers, which I firmly believe saved my life. Even the surgeon was amazed.
To this day I still cannot do the things, which I loved to do. But God in His grace and mercy has given me new things. Dealing with chronic pain and depression has been a struggle of the sort I had never known. I don’t just lean on the strength of the Lord; some days He carries me. I cannot explain the importance of the knowledge and wisdom of God, which I soaked up in my year in Sweden. If knowledge is power, then wisdom is armor. And without that power and armor, I would not now be in the position I am — working in a church — much less alive. God is using me in ways I may not ever have had time or motivation for before my accident.
I admit I have made many mistakes, and you or your loved ones may never go through these exact experiences. However the fundamental truths are the same. We are all being preached to constantly and are affected by the things of this world. To take a year out of your life and out of the world might not save your life immediately. However, there is no telling the importance that it may serve at another point in your journey. God is always faithful even when we are not, and I believe investing in your faith will pay dividends not only during that time you’re investing, but throughout the course of your life. Biblical truth and experience will change your life! When you re-enter your world, or over a period of time, you may be led away from God and the truth. This is what happened to me. But no matter how hard the enemy may try, he cannot make these roots disappear. I cannot stress the importance of a foundation built on the Rock. It will anchor you, both now and for the future.