Government Minister Dr Esther-Byer Suckoo today bade farewell to her dad who spent half a century ministering God’s word to thousands.
Delivering the eulogy at a thanksgiving service for her father, Reverend Dr Edwin Rudolph Byer, held at the St George Parish Church, Byer-Suckoo described the deceased as a faithful servant of God who had no boundaries, having travelled across the world to preach the gospel.
She said 50 years ago, Byer put down his tools, abandoning a career as a tradesman, to answer God’s call for him to enter Bible school.
He worked with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) at various churches locally and in the region. He became the first pastor at Calvary Temple in the Crane, St Philip, before starting Calvary Deliverance Tabernacle in Cox Hill, Church Village, St Philip more than 40 years ago. He was a trailblazer in recording his sermons on cassettes, and even paved the way for ministering to the souls of the nation, through radio programming.
Byer-Suckoo said Pastor Ed, as he was affectionately called by some, went to many continents, including the Middle East, with his evangelism ministry. However, he yearned to preach to the people of Africa. He even adopted the African style of dress, as his preferred outfits were the African robes and black sandals.
She said he also wanted her to follow in his footsteps as a Minister, and though she did not, he nevertheless, was contented with her achievements in her political and professional careers.
However, she said he had never been happier with her than when she was leaving the island for her first missionary trip.
She also recalled that he was a strong advocate against taking the Bible out of schools, to replace it with a book of values, when the suggestion was made in the late 90’s.
“He went on TV, he went to schools, he went to churches and he went to the Ministry of Education, not just to protest, but having studied the book, he presented a reasonable ultimatum,” Dr Byer-Suckoo said.
Pastor Byer was the father of two — Dr Byer Suckoo and her sister Harriet – from his first marriage with her mother. He also had two other daughters, Eden and Abigail Byer, from his second marriage in the United States. He pushed all of his girls to strive for academic excellence.
“Daddy was not perfect but he had a way of endearing himself to everyone. He was charming, tall, dark and handsome. His charm, his smile and the ease with which he conversed would convince anyone that he was perfect,” the daughter said.
Byer, of Tabernacle Avenue, Cox Hill, Church Village, St Philip, died on May 22 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Byer Suckoo’s other Cabinet colleagues, pastors who worked with the deceased over the years, family and friends, gathered at the church to say farewell to Reverend Byer.
Delivering the sermon, Rector of St George Parish Church, Reverend John Rogers, applauded Byer for committing his life to ministry even in the midst of challenges.
He implored Barbadians not to allow denomination and religion to cloud their vision of the impact that our forefathers have had on the development of the nation.
He also said there was a need for the work of outstanding Barbadians such as Byer, to be recorded and saved for reference.
“We must recognize the good that people have done in this nation. The cause is their champion, to ensure that our children and our children’s children have the message of salvation preached to them,” Rogers said.