Since 1977 our domestic mission committee has been made up of members of Classis West in the Hull-Doon-Edgerton area as well as members of Classis East in the Grand Rapids area. This year the membership consists of EAST: Rev. R. Flikkema, Rev. J. Kortering, Rev. R. Miersma, Rev. B. Woudenberg, Mr. G. Feenstra, Mr. J. Kalsbeek, Sr., and Mr. C. Kregel; WEST: Rev. M. Kamps, Rev. J. Smith, Mr. H. Hoekstra, Mr. A. Kooiker, and Mr. E. Van Ginkel.
Our meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. Michigan time. The eastern branch meets in the consistory room of Hudsonville Church while the western branch meets in the consistory room of Doon Church. We are joined by telephone hookup, with an amplifier system, so that we can converse together. Our meetings last an average of three hours.
One of the purposes of this arrangement is to allow for broader representation in our mission activities. Over the years this has worked out quite well, though it has its difficulties. Recently it was pointed out by the brothers in the west that it is difficult for them to follow the discussion if they do not have copies of the documents. We are now considering ways to furnish copies of the material to them so that they can have them in advance. Another purpose is that the work can be divided among more persons. Sub-committees can be formed from both east and west to give advice and carry out mandates.
The organization of our committee for this year is as follows: President—Rev. R. Miersma, Vice-President—Rev. R. Flikkema, Secretary—Rev. J. Kortering, Treasurer—Mr. C. Kregel, Vice-Secretary-Treasurer—Mr. J. Kalsbeek, Sr. Our sub-committees are divided as follows: Jamaica—Rev. R. Flikkema, Rev. R. Miersma, Mr. J. Kalsbeek, Sr.; Domestic EAST—Rev. B. Woudenberg, Rev. J. Kortering, Mr. G. Feenstra, and Mr. C. Kregel; Domestic WEST—Rev. M. Kamps, Rev. J. Smith, Mr. H. Hoekstra, Mr. A. Kooiker, and Mr. E. Van Ginkel; New Zealand—Rev. R. Miersma and Mr. G. Feenstra; Finance—Mr. C. Kregel and Mr. J. Kalsbeek, Sr.
We contacted all our pastors and emeritus pastors and asked if their consistories would release them, and if their family circumstances would allow that they labor in New Zealand for at least six months. (Synod had decided to grant the request of the Protestant Reformed Fellowships in Wellington and Palmerston North to -have a pastor come to them and labor six months or more according to the same guidelines as the past two years. Rev. and Mrs. John Heys have faithfully done this labor these past years, but they regretfully informed us that a heart condition which developed while in New Zealand prevented them from undertaking the work this year. We are grateful for the great contribution both Rev. and Mrs. Heys have made on behalf of this work, and that the brother has recovered sufficiently that he may preach among us again.) The mission committee received a favorable reply from Holland consistory and Rev. R. Miersma. We decided to ask Holland consistory to make the necessary arrangements to send their pastor to labor in New Zealand for at least six months and to send him as soon as possible. The Miersmas plan to leave October 22. We appreciate the willingness of Holland Church to see this need and send their pastor. May the Lord use Rev. Miersma and family as a means for the spiritual and numerical growth of the fellowships in New Zealand and return them to us in safety in the spring.
Since Rev. and Mrs. Lubbers labored full-time in Jamaica, some ten years ago, this mission field has been without the benefit of a missionary. Some brethren have gone there and labored for different lengths of time, tapes have been sent, and correspondence has been carried on, but all through the years the Jamaican Christians have desired a missionary. Now, the Lord has answered that prayer. Prior to Rev. W. Bruinsma’s accepting the call, he and his wife, with Rev. and Mrs. Joostens, traveled to Jamaica to discuss the needs and possibilities of a young missionary family living in Jamaica. Even though this was a brief exposure to the field of work, it served to impress upon them the great need and obvious difficulty of the work.
In preparation for leaving by the target date of October 16, many things had to be decided. The pastoral relationship with Faith Church had to be concluded in July, and Rev. Bruinsma was installed in the office of missionary in early August. Both he and Rev. Joostens, who is pastor of the calling church, have been working together to prepare material that can be used for instruction in the field. The broad guidelines of labor presented to Synod of 1983 were referred to the calling church and the missionary for implementation. This includes training the ministers and other young men who may be available, laboring with the existing churches in the areas of preaching, pastoral care, Sunday school and catechism instruction, visiting, and deacon’s work.
To facilitate travel in Jamaica, a new 1984 Horizon was purchased and prepared for the field. We are investigating having a missionary organization, which is equipped to handle foreign exports, arrange the shipping of the car and other personal possessions of the Bruinsmas. A furnished home in the Cave Mountain district has been leased. Their future address is: Ferris Heights, Cave P.O., Westmoreland; Jamaica, West Indies.
Efforts have also been put forth to secure a co-laborer, a pastor or emeritus pastor as stipulated by Synod. To date none has become available. Plans are to send the missionary to Jamaica and evaluate the needs for such a co-laborer and continue to search for such a man.
We covet your prayers, as does also Rev. Bruinsma who wrote, “We are very much looking forward to leaving for the island to begin our labors there. The thought of leaving home and moving to a different country and culture is rather frightening, especially for my wife. We ask that you remember us in your prayers. ‘God’s Word shall surely stand; His name through every land, shall be adored: Lord who shall lead our host? Thy aid we covet most, in thee is all our boast, strong in the Lord,’ Psalter number 298.”
THE HOME FRONT
We now have home missionaries on the two extreme ends of our country, Ripon, California and Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, as well as in our midsection, in Elk Grove, Illinois.
Beginning at the far west, Rev. Steve Houck is able once again to take up his labors with strength. After being troubled with lower back pain for some time, he submitted to back surgery in June. During his recovery Revs. C. Hanko and H. Veldman filled in with preaching, pastoral work, and instructing classes. We are thankful to God that Rev. Houck continues to have a good recovery. This is not to say that our missionary and his wife are free from medical concerns. Their young son Jeremy, three years old, has been suffering from a kidney disease. This required repeated hospitalization, diagnosis, and a concern for his life. They have been informed that the biopsy determined he does not have a fatal disease, though the treatment they are giving him involves medication with serious side-effects. Besides facing large medical bills, and experiencing anxious moments, Rev. and Mrs. Houck are sometimes separated for miles due to hospitalization. We do well to pray for them that God may give them strength and patience. God’s purpose is good in this, for when we are weak, then are we strong in the Lord. Their address is 1109 W. Rumble Road, Modesto, CA 95350, phone (209) 576-7009.
Having all this concern on his mind, Rev. Houck still labors diligently. He reports that the Word is well received by those who faithfully attend the meetings, and he has opportunity to minister to other families who are in the area. Always, the Word has a two-edged effect: some gnash against it with bitterness, others rejoice in the blessings of our sovereign God.
Pastor Van Overloop and family are settled in their new field of labor. Their residence is 1047 Florida Lane, Elk Grove Village, Illinois 60007.
The termination of labor in Birmingham had its painful side as those who faithfully attended the worship had to make other plans. Some moved from the area, others found new church homes. We trust that, even though it was not God’s will to have a Protestant Reformed Church organized at this time, the Word preached will have an abiding effect in the lives of those who heard it. It helps all of us to remember that there is no such thing as failure when we bring the gospel in sincerity and in truth.
Elk Grove Village is in the N.W. Chicago area. The five families that are actively involved have worshiped in our South Holland church for some time already, and Rev. Engelsma has preached in their midst the last months. Most of them have their membership in South Holland. As of September they are having two worship services each Lord’s Day at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. The first and third Sundays are in the St. Bede Episcopal Church building.
Plans are under way to get a radio ministry on WCFL, 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning. A Reformation Day lecture is being planned. A mid-week Bible study is organized. May the Lord bless Pastor Van Overloop and family as they take up their labors in this new field.
Finally, our youngest missionary, Rev. Ken Hanko, was ordained in our Covenant Church, Wykoff, New Jersey on Sunday, September 23. This was a memorable day for the congregation and a special day for the Hanko family as grandfather—Rev. C. Hanko, father—Prof. H. Hanko, and brother—Rev. R. Hanko could all participate, while other family members were in attendance as well.
Rev. Ken Hanko’s field of labor is Blue Bell, PA. This is the greater Philadelphia area, especially to the north. The address is The Blue Bell Mission, P.O. Box 95, Blue Bell, PA 19422. Brother Hanko has already been laboring here as a candidate for about a year. The fruits of these labors are that five of the group have made profession of the Reformed faith in our Covenant (Wykoff) Church and three others transferred membership there from the Blue Bell Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
The group is enthused in the Reformed faith and eager to grow in knowledge and faith.
To arrange a closer working relationship between the missionaries, calling churches, and the mission committee, meetings have been held to discuss ways to implement this work. We have already decided that the three missionaries communicate together by conference phone from time to time to share their knowledge and encourage each other in the work. We also have scheduled a meeting prior to Classis East’s meeting in January to discuss methodology, learning from past experience and seeking out Biblical directives for our present calling.
Pray for this work and for our missionaries that the name of God may be magnified in all our labors.