Providence recently lost a great friend in alumnus Ewan James ‘Jim’ Scobbie. Jim died on November 13, 2020, at the age of 84, living a life rich in Christ right until his passing.
Jim was born and raised in the highlands of Scotland. He accepted Christ as his Savior at the age of 17 and immediately became active in gospel work in the Inverness YMCA.
Jim was introduced to Providence (formerly known as Winnipeg Bible Institute) by John Wesley White who was a Canadian evangelist preaching in the British Isles. He immigrated to Canada from Invergarry, SCT in 1957 along with a few friends and his sister Sheila, and began his studies at WBI. Along with these studies, he also got involved with Youth for Christ work in Headingly.
President David Johnson recalls a fond first memory of Jim. When asked to give his testimony at a meeting, he got up and sat back down again. He couldn’t speak out of fear. Jim became known as a man of few words in the pulpit. He knew when and how to conclude a message.
In 1958, Jim’s girlfriend, Christina (Ena), also immigrated from Scotland and the two married. Although Jim began his WBI journey in 1957, he didn’t graduate until 1967. He moved into ministry and family life, but continued his studies on the side, finishing off his Greek classes while teaching New Testament Bible and pastoring at Pembina Free Church in St Vincent, Minnesota.
Jim pastored in three Evangelical Free churches, two in the US and then The Evangelical Free Church in Steinbach for 20 years. He was an adjunct professor in the Seminary, teaching Pastoral Theology for a number of years. President Johnson remembers a story about a student in one of Jim’s classes who asked a question based on a hypothetical situation. And Jim replied, “I remember when that happened to me.”
“There was very little that Jim didn’t experience in his five decades of ministry,” President Johnson remarked. “He had a great memory and the ability to put things into perspective.”
Jim’s involvement with Providence continued as he served 12 years on the Board of Governors. He was well known for his wise insights, and preparedness. These characteristics are also noted in Providence’s 1963 yearbook which described him as: “thoughtful, persistent and cooperative,” adding that “he manages classes, study, work, Christian service and married life with astonishing success.”
While on the Board, he led the Student Life Committee. He and Ena were generous Providence supporters. Our school cafeteria is named the ‘J & E Scobbie Dining Hall’ in honour of their contributions to Providence.
Jim’s legacy goes beyond all he has accomplished, but rather he will be best remembered for who he was. Shannon Friesen, a Master of Divinity graduate (2019) who now pastors Stonehouse Covenant Church in Steinbach, MB, shares, “Jim always came back to scripture, looking through its lens to decipher and discern. He was a steady disciple of Jesus, a student of the Bible and faithful prayer warrior. He walked close with the Lord, being a faithful servant until the end.”
“His heart was for people,” continues Friesen. “With great generosity of spirit, openness and grace, he was a pastor until his dying day.” Jim never retired from following Christ and caring for others. Both Jim and Ena were known for their warm hospitality – Ena putting on the kettle and both visiting with a listening ear, quietly discipling and mentoring people.
In 1980, Jim was nominated as Providence’s (then Winnipeg Bible College) ‘Alumni of the Year,’ and then in 2001, the Seminary awarded Jim an honorary doctorate “because he did enough work on his own to be called a doctor and because of the great influence he had in Manitoba and beyond.”
President Johnson sums it up best: “Jim, more than anyone I know, lived out his theology. He had an unmistakeable trust in the sovereign love of God. I remember once sharing the platform with him at a Free Church leadership conference. Everyone talked about his message afterward. In his straightforward style of preaching, he set the tone of the whole conference. He was a Bible teacher and trusted the Word of God to do its work in people’s lives.”
Jim and Ena were married for almost 62 years. They have four daughters, one son, 16 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.
– written by Grace Sandulak, Coordinator of Alumni and Church Relations