We Remember

UNRAU, Peter Sawatzky

August 26, 1936 — June 16, 2023

Peter Sawatzky Unrau was born August 26, 1936, to Peter and Lena Unrau near Kleefeld, Manitoba.  His twin brother, John, joined him soon after his birth. He is predeceased by his parents, sister Helen, brothers Henry, Albert, Abe, John, and Henrietta, and his grandson Jordan.  His remaining living sibling is Linda, married to Bernie Oxenham.  His brother Henry had a radical conversion to Jesus Christ.  Henry became the catalyst to put the desire to know Jesus into the hearts of his whole family.  Pete and John were born on the same day and “born again” at age 11, under the encouragement of Henry.  Eventually, most of Pete’s siblings would go to Winnipeg Bible Institute, and the last four siblings would graduate from Briercrest Bible Institute.  The whole family moved to Abbotsford, BC, and his father found a good job in carpentry.  At 16 Pete took his apprenticeship to become a carpenter. The family found a great church in Abbotsford that helped them all grow in Christ.  Pete was the youth president and led an evening service put on by the youth.  After the service, an older churchman came up to Pete and said, “Have you ever thought of becoming a pastor”.  Pete said “No”.  The older man said, “I think you should consider it.  I think you would be a good pastor.”  That became his call to ministry.  In 1956 Pete gave a summer to be a cabin counselor at a camp, where Shirley Oxenham was also working. Their romance began there and ended in a beautiful wedding held in Kelowna, BC, August 14, 1958.  The theme for the wedding was on a big banner in the reception hall.  It said, “UNITED TO SERVE”.  We wanted our marriage to be like Jesus, “who did not come to be served but to serve”.  We started our ministry in Jamestown, North Dakota as youth pastor for a Baptist Church.  Pete hit the ground running with unbounded energy and a positive, fun, caring heart for those he served.  He was a youth pastor, a choir leader at church, and became the head of the Youth for Christ group which grew beautifully.  We took this group of young people to Washington, DC for a Capital Teen Convention with 10,000 young people attending.  Alongside all of this, he continued to work on getting his Bachelor’s and then Master’s degree, in 1976.  We had our first baby on September 25, 1959, in Jamestown, N.D.  We named him Bevan James.  Brent Timothy was our second son, on November 20, 1960.  Then came our third son, Kim Peter, on February 28, 1964, and finally our girl Kathleen Ann, born on April 25, 1969.

Pete pastored very small churches and very large ones.  He was a gifted speaker and preached God’s word deeply.  We had many great blessings and many heartbreaking disappointments.  God was faithful and turned even the bad into something beautiful.  Our last ministry was Oasis Retreat, which featured 5-day events for up to 6 couples at a time.  It was geared to bring restoration and healing to pastors and missionaries who had been wounded in ministry, as we had been.  We gathered a team of 6 people who were gifted in speaking and sharing their lessons with this hurting group.  God turned our ashes into something very beautiful.  We did this ministry for about 14 years.  In 2008 we moved to Kelowna to build a home connected to our daughter Kathy and her husband Bruce, and three grandkids.  They wanted to be our companions now and ultimate caregivers if need be.  We jumped at the chance and moved next to our youngest kids. It’s been a wonderful connection and bonding time.  Pete continued to have great energy and developed a Prayer Texting Ministry for over 200 people.  Monday to Friday he would send out a Bible Verse that had touched him.  As he pressed Send he would pray for that person.  He did that for many years, calling himself their spiritual bodyguard.

April 2020 changed our lives.  Pete had a TIA – a mini-stroke that affected his short-term memory.  Over the next three years, it developed into full-blown Dementia.  Little by little I was losing my energetic, confident man I had given my heart to for over 65 years.  We struggled together with confusion, lack of confidence, and loss of being able to drive. He continued reading to me and praying together morning and evening. His faith grew more solid as his body weakened.  His favourite quote was, “Jesus is my Saviour and the Bible is my guide”. He went into Hospice House on May 21, 2023.  On June 16, 2023, after almost 4 weeks of no meds and no food, and then no water, he took his last breath, “absent from the body, present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).  Kathy and Bruce were with Pete when he left this earth.  The rest of the Kelowna family joined at Hospice to say our final farewells and gathered around his bed singing, “Because He Lives!”  Pete leaves those who will miss him and loved him well – his wife, Shirley, his four children and their spouses, nine grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life Service is set for Saturday, August 12, 2023, at 10:30 am at Trinity Church Hub, 1905 Springfield Road, Kelowna, BC.  Refreshments to follow in the Upper Ground.

If you wish to send a condolence, post photos, or share a memory, please scroll down the page to the area called “Condolences”.

Saturday, August 12, 2023, at 10:30 am

Trinity Church Hub, 1905 Springfield Road, Kelowna, BC

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