Coast loses surfing, cycling saint who lived for others
THE Sunshine Coast has lost a true saint - a man whose life included everything from working in the slums of Thailand to helping single mums fleeing domestic violence in Coolum.
Father of five Stephen Nichol was a legend in the coastal community, not only for his role in building a church school and international college, but for his heart for people.
The well-loved surfer, who was the driving force behind the popular Coolum carols, passed away on Wednesday, aged 63.
Throughout his life, the Coolum Christian Family Church pastor endured some incredible battles, including the sickness of his children in Thailand and his own health struggles which included seven brain bleeds and multiple surgeries.
But his faith never faltered, with Steve believing he was put on the planet to serve people and God.
Steve was an avid cyclist. After being hit by a vehicle while riding his bike in August 2014, he never worked again.
Following months of tests, Steve was diagnosed with younger onset dementia. He was given five to eight years to live.
He suffered short term memory loss, something that never improved.
His life achievements included:
- Working as a missionary in the slum areas of Thailand for six years.
- Being senior pastor of Coolum Christian Family Church for 18 years. In that time, he was the CEO working with a team for the procurement of land, and the establishment of the church, school and international college.
- Regularly taking teams of people to destitute and necessitous areas for rebuilding, training and support in India, Thailand, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Burma, Vietnam, and Nepal.
- Senior pastor of Hinterland Christian Centre for just over two years.
- Interim field director for impoverished areas of Cebu, Philippines.
Born in Maryborough, Steve spent the last couple of years of his life at the New Direction Care in Bellmere where he was said to be much happier and peaceful.
Steve and Angie Nichol had been married for 41 years and had five children, Eli, Michael, Zane, Isaac and Jesse.
Angie said Steve had been a great father to his boys, taking them motorbike riding, as well as watching them play soccer and basketball and perform music.
As a young musician himself, Steve's band Armageddon once backed up for ACDC.
In his early days on the Coast, he loved his surfing.
"I took up surfing so I could be with him," Angie told the Sunshine Coast Daily on Saturday.
As a pastor, Angie said her husband was driven by a 'passion to help people'
"We had a large percentage of single mums in Coolum.
"He was always running community programs and free counselling.''
As missionaries in Thailand with his two young sons, she said Steve spent many long nights praying for his kids as they battled illness.
"Every two weeks, they would take turns being sick,'' she said of the continual struggle.
Angie said it has been 'very, very difficult' to deal with Steve getting dementia.
"Being diagnosed at 57 saw our hopes and dreams for the future disappear".
"I have a strong faith, and I don't blame God for what happened. I know God is good, and sickness and death are just a part of life."
A celebration service for Stephen will be held at Victory Church at 32 Carseldine Rd, Bridgeman Downs on Monday, November 18 at 1pm.