From watering plants to CFO

From watering flowers to CFO

Sabine Koster – a New Chapter after Twenty Years at CSBS&C

by Kathy Doell

With great anticipation, a newly wedded bride from Germany arrived in Canada in 1997, having just married her Canadian sweetheart Philip whom she had met at Capernwray in New Zealand only a year prior.

Even though she had completed two apprenticeships while working for over thirteen years at a bank in Germany, she couldn’t legally work in Canada with her visitor visa. She applied for permanent residency once she and Philip moved to Cochrane in December of 1997 and then waited on approval. After three months of landing on Canadian soil, she was looking for something to do. Philip suggested she do volunteer work, and that was found on the beautiful campus of CSBS&C, on a hill overlooking the little town of Cochrane, Alberta. With a breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains in the background, she did something that might seem insignificant to some, but important enough to take notice. A new chapter in her life was about to begin.

Those who have worked with Sabine Koster know that her choice to water the plants around the building, as well as volunteer in the library and the bookstore, is a true indication of her willingness to help and work hard wherever needed. These qualities, along with her years of banking experience, quickly moved her from plant waterer to financial assistant.

In 1998, Sabine was hired in the business office part-time to help Laurel Miller, CSBS&C’s Business Manager. They became fast friends and remain so even to this day. Eight years later, when it was Laurel’s time to leave, then-president Richard Blackaby asked Sabine to step into Laurel’s role. At first Sabine declined, but over the next few months, God made it clear to her that she should take the job and she obeyed!

Sabine diligently served as Director of Finance and Administration for twelve years, always keeping a strong spirit through challenging times, and always a great promoter and participant in celebrating the exciting times. Sabine rejoiced when donations flowed in from all over Canada and the United States for specific projects like the Kids Helping Kids playground fund, and even the $400,000 sewer project. In some lean years, she also experienced the arrival of unexpected donations that allowed the school to finish the year in good financial standing. No matter what was happening, Sabine’s laughter could be heard coming down the hallways and into other’s offices, bringing smiles to many faces.

Away from the office, Sabine enjoyed hosting friends and playing board games. Over the years, she has served many by lending a listening ear to hurting friends, by volunteering at Bow Valley Baptist Church, and for many years helped Philip care daily for his mom who lived close to their home. She still enjoys exercising with friends and going for walks with Philip. Occasionally she travelled back to Germany to visit family. Witnesses report seeing her in the mosh pit of the concert held for our school’s 25th anniversary!

Recently God has made it clear to Sabine and Philip that they are about to begin a new chapter, and in February she announced she would be leaving her position. Many tears were shed. Sabine has become a close friend to many and her steady leadership essential to the daily functioning of CSBS&C.

Sabine’s words to us summarize her time here well:

“Dear CSBS&C family,

Twenty years ago, God provided a job for me as the assistant in the Business Office and then called me to take the position of Director of Finance & Administration in 2006. This has been my work place ever since I immigrated to Canada. It has been a place of immense spiritual, personal and professional growth. I thank God for the many staff, faculty and students I have met here over the years. I was blessed with people who believed in me, have been role models for me and who have become close friends. Thank you to all of you who have supported, encouraged and prayed for me. God has been incredibly faithful to me in my role here and also to this school, for which I am very grateful.

Now I sense that God is saying it is time for something new, although I have no idea what that is yet.

I would appreciate your prayers for Philip and I as we wait on God to show us the next chapter in our lives.”

Sabine also shared this encouraging passage from Psalms 73:23-28 (NIV)

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

On May 17, a moving farewell dinner was held in Sabine’s honour by the President’s Office. After eating a scrumptious meal cooked by Kathryn Dorey, opportunity was given to share memories and accolades about Sabine.

These quotes speak loudly of the character and loyalty of this long-term employee as she touched many lives:

Drs. Steve and Susan Booth:

“Steve and I have enjoyed working with Sabine over the past two decades. Although I love hearing Sabine’s laugh down the hall, my thoughts of Sabine extend beyond her office. Three quick snapshots: 1) A table filled with friends and neighbours that Sabine has invited to our annual ladies Christmas outreach banquet year after year. 2) A Thursday morning prayer group that Sabine has hosted for many years to pray for each other, for the seminary, and for opportunities to share Christ. 3) Pictures from her recent trip to serve alongside one of our alumni working abroad. God has given both Sabine and Philip wonderful gifts for ministry, and we look forward to seeing how He uses them next.”

A touching tribute was also given by Kathy Harmon, who has worked closely with Sabine over the last several years:

“I admit that I went home that night and cried. And I talked with my hubby. And I prayed. As I was praying God gave me a vision. I saw Sabine and Philip at the shore of some water. I knew in the vision that God was telling them to ‘go’ and they were saying ‘yes’. It was a picture of them in motion, with a foot stepping into the water, with the knowledge that the waters were going to part (like they did for Moses). And there was peace knowing this was God’s will for their lives; to leave what they are currently doing (and maybe even to leave where they are) and to go where God is leading them.

It is a privilege to have been able to work for, with, and alongside someone who God is guiding in amazing ways. Whatever it is that God is leading you towards I can’t wait to find out.”

CSBS&C President Dr. Rob Blackaby said this about Sabine:

“After twenty years of ministry in our school, and twelve years as our Director of Finance and Administration Sabine will be profoundly missed. Over so many years God has used Sabine to influence the culture of our learning community toward meeting the challenge of training God-called leaders for tough places. It is not possible to rehearse the countless ways she was invested in our school. She has been a strategic part of the President’s Administrative Team (PAT), and has embraced her role in helping us achieve our ends. She has been undaunted by challenges, and undeterred in calling for faith. Her smile and laughter are hallmarks of the Business Office. I am blessed for having had the opportunity to minister with her for more than a decade.”

We, as the whole staff, faculty and students at CSBS&C, will miss Sabine greatly but we are excited about their future. We all wish God’s best for her and Philip as they continue to seek God wholeheartedly, and to prepare for His next assignment. Perhaps it might even begin with watering plants!

Thank you for joining us in praying for them.