Lillian Diggins: What Briercrest means to me

Posted: July 18, 2018

I am always amazed at the way God puts people in our paths for one reason or another. It’s always a good reminder that He is in control and listens to our needs. Before I began my position as Alumni Coordinator with the school, I worked for a retirement community in Moose Jaw. In my years there, I had the honour of getting to know Mrs. Lillian Diggins as both a friend and sister in Christ. For those that don’t know Lil, she is a vibrant, joy-filled, caring woman who is never too old for a good laugh or new adventure! She was such an encouragement to me and it was a blessing to be able to speak and pray with her. 

I think many will remember Gord and Lil Diggins and family from their years of service in Caronport. I asked my dear friend to put some of her Briercrest experiences down on paper. 

— Katelyn Dyck, Alumni Coordinator

What Briercrest means to me

Briercrest has been such an important part of my life, so when I was asked to share what it meant to me, I didn’t know where to start. 

I was privileged to be born into a Christian family (though Daddy didn’t come back to the Lord until I was in my teens). Mom took us to a Bible believing church where I accepted the Lord at a young age. I remember thinking at that time that the Christian life had a lot to do with “do’s” and “don’t’s.” 

This changed at 19 when I came to Briercrest Bible Institute, realizing that what I did or didn’t do wasn’t because I was bound by a set of rules, but instead flowed out of love for my Lord and wanting to please Him.  

When I graduated in ’51, I thought I was headed to Africa for missions work, but as the story goes for many, that didn’t happen. Reflecting later, I think God just wanted my readiness to go, if that was His will. When I told Dr. Hildebrand (who was one of my references) what was happening, he asked me to come and serve at BBI. I experienced God’s peace settle over me in that, which has continued ever since.

I met my dear Gordon in ’55, but found out later that he had his eye on me when he first came to Bible school in’51!  He graduated in ’53 and stayed on to become the plumber. We were married in ‘56 and God gave us 4 wonderful children and our family has increased by 13 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren—what a blessing that has been!  

Serving at BBI

While our children were young, I started working part time at the school.  That included time in the general office, high school office, alumni department, Vision banquet office, and finally at the reception desk.  I enjoyed each area, but the alumni office was the most memorable. I came to be known as the ‘Alumni Lady’ of my time, as I was always searching for lost alumni. I was excited when I met our alumni in the churches where we visited or was able to put an alumnus back on the mailing list.  

Dr. Hildebrand always liked to treat people as though they were family, wanting to include the names of the children of alumni to whom he was writing. I had the pleasure of him visiting my desk often to ask me if I knew their names. Now years later, I haven’t lost that love for our alumni. I still get excited when I meet someone or see someone on Facebook that I haven’t seen for years. Just recently, I was talking to a neighbour who is related to a couple of students who had, back in the ‘60s, helped keep our children warm around the potbellied stove at the Caron train station.  

We also had the privilege of supporting, financially and through prayer, many of our alumni whom had God led to serve around the world. Even years later, after moving to Abbotsford in ‘91, two of the families whom our church there supported were alumni of Briercrest.  

Life after Briercrest

During our time in Abbotsford, we lived close by a number of alumni and former staff. Abbotsford truly was home to many, many alumni—so many that it was also known as “Briercrest West!”The Hildebrands lived close by, and Dr. Hildebrand made himself at home when he came over to have his hair cut by Gordon! We also enjoyed helping to gather many alumni and friends for the annual Vision banquets.  

As I am sure you can probably tell, Briercrest has been a very meaningful part of my life, but what Jesus means to me is so much greater! It continues to amaze me that He loves us so much that He would take our place on that awful cross, which we deserved. The peace He gave us through the years is a great reminder of that love. Of course, there were ups and downs while we served at BBI, but that peace never left us.  

When God took Gordon home in 2012, my life was forever changed.  We were so thankful for the loving support of our children during the 14 months after he was diagnosed with asbestos cancer. I am so thankful for the wonderful hope we have of someday being all together again with our loving Lord Jesus. 

When I moved back to Saskatchewan, I was thrilled to find out that Katelyn Dyck, our Activity Director at the Retirement Community I was living in, was from Caronport and was a Briercrest alumna! We quickly became good friends and together started a weekly prayer group, which I am privileged to continue. When Katelyn left us for a job opportunity with the school (as an alumni coordinator, no less), I was happy that she and her husband David stayed close by and continuing to serve the Lord.  

Caronport was home from ‘55 to the end of ’90, and I still feel like we should turn in off the highway when we pass by on the way to Moose Jaw. I will always be grateful for Briercrest and that God allowed us to serve Him at Caronport.

— Lillian Diggins