Every Friday our business manager Alex Kalsbeek sends out his update on the work accomplished for that week. At the top of that update he always includes the mission of the RFPA. That mission reads as follows: Our mission is to glorify God by making accessible to the broadest possible audience material that testifies to the truth of Scripture as understood and developed in the Reformed tradition. That mission is always in the forefront of the minds of the staff, and the board has kept that mission in front of us as well as we have worked for you this past year.
Speaking of the staff, this year saw a transition in the staff at the RFPA. After faithfully serving the RFPA for 18 years, Paula Roberts left to be a mother to triplets (Owen, Samuel, and Homer). We thank her for her years of service and wish her God’s blessing as she continues to serve God as a wife and mother. The RFPA hired Marco Barone in January and he was able to work with Paula for several months to learn the position. We look forward to continuing to work with him.
We will also be seeing transitions in the Standard Bearer this year. As was announced in the July issue of the Standard Bearer, Professor R. Dykstra has stepped down as editor. Rev. Koole also finished his role as editor in September. We would like to thank them for their faithful labors these past 17 years. We pray that the Lord will be with them in their continued work in our churches. As was recently reported, Prof. Brian Huizinga and Rev. Joshua Engelsma will be joining Prof. Gritters as editors of the Standard Bearer. Please ask the Lord to give them wisdom and the pen of a ready writer.
The Standard Bearer continues to be an important part of fulfilling our mission to testify to the truths of Scripture as developed in the Reformed tradition. Our subscriber base has dropped a bit, but we have almost 2,300 subscribers across sixteen countries and thirty- four states. We are also thankful to the thirty-eight staff writers for the Standard Bearer. Without your writings the Standard Bearer would not be what it is. We would encourage you to continue to defend the Reformed faith and to glorify God in your writings.
Another magazine joined the ranks of the RFPA this year. We are very pleased to present Ignited by the Word, a magazine targeting children in preschool through the 8th grade. It contains everything from devotionals, church history articles, and apologetics, to reader submissions, arts, and crafts. We believe it will be a valuable addition to every household with children and would encourage you to check out their website at ignitedbytheword.org.
We were blessed with four book-club books this year. The first was Watchman on the Walls of Zion: The Life and Influence of Simon van Velzen by Joshua Engelsma. This is a biography of a man who was a Reformer of the church of Christ in the Netherlands in the Secession of 1834. This book corrects the ignorance and misconceptions of many by setting forth the fascinating life of an influential figure in the history of Christ’s church.
The second book was Christ and His Church Through the Ages Volume 1: The Ancient Church (AD 30-590) by Herman Hanko. The book relates how Christ faithfully guided the church from the ministry of the apostles through the fall of the Roman Empire. Highlights of this history include the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles, the persecution of the church under Roman emperors, the deliberations of the ecumenical councils, and the battle for the truth of sovereign grace.
The next book was Job: God’s Sovereignty in Suffering by Ronald Hanko. The book of Job is God’s commentary on the suffering and trials of His people. The book describes suffering on a scale seldom seen, but shows our weaknesses and the temptations we face when under the hand of God. For that reason it is instructive and corrective but is also of great comfort, for it points those who are suffering to God’s sovereignty in trials and to His faithfulness and saving grace to His own. Rev. Hanko’s book is not meant to be an exhaustive, verse-by-verse explanation of the book of Job but is an attempt to show how the book fits together and leads up to its grand climax in the appearance of God. It also attempts to show that Job has often been misunderstood and maligned, and though guilty of sin, as we all are in suffering, is nevertheless one whose faith and hope in God are sure.
The final book club book is The Church’s Hope: The Reformed Doctrine of the End: Volume 1: The Millennium by David J. Engelsma. This book is the first volume of a set of two volumes that can be considered the summa of the author’s longstanding preaching and teaching on issues pertaining to eschatology and the end times. The book reminds all Christians that the errors concerning the millennium affect the hope of the church. The controversy over the millennium is fundamental.
This year we also published I Remember Herman Hoeksema: Personal Remembrances of a Great Man by David J. Engelsma. Published originally as a series of articles in Beacon Lights magazine, I Remember Herman Hoeksema consists of the recollections of David J. Engelsma, a student of Herman Hoeksema. Written for young people, these articles show something of the man whom many know only as an author and theologian.
We also were able to reprint The Church Order Commentary by Idzerd van Dellen and Martin Monsma. This revised third edition is the accepted standard for the interpretation and application of the Church Order of Dordrecht by Reformed denominations. This weighty and time-tested commentary instructs us today on the need for a book of order for biblical consistency in church government.
This year the board also adopted a new three-year plan. The board periodically updates this plan to help us focus on our mission. The first item on this plan is to develop our new tiered membership model. The goal of this model is to develop a closer relationship with our supporters and increase the value that they receive from the RFPA. It will also better help finance our activities to support the mission. More details were given at the association meeting and may be sent to those who ask.
We have been working to expand our translations available. We are working on Spanish translations of Doctrine According to Godliness and Preparing for Dating and Marriage. Doctrine According to Godliness was translated into Hungarian, as well as His Mercy Endureth Forever. We also were able to publish 3,000 copies of Reformed Dogmatics in Portuguese. We were also able to send fourteen boxes of books to the Philippines.
We have been working on promoting the RFPA books. We promoted Doctrine According to Godliness on challies.com, a Reformed blog that focuses on book reviews. We have also been experimenting with advertising with Google ad words. We expect to expand this in the upcoming year. The Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology had a conference on the Trinity. We were able promote Prof. Engelsma’s Trinity and Covenant and gave away thirty copies.
Finally, we wanted to update you on the improperly edited books. We are nearing completion on Wonder of Grace and hope to have that available by the end of the year. There is a significant amount of work involved in getting the works into a form that can be sent to the printer. Be assured that the board is placing a high priority on this work.
The RFPA board would like to thank the outgoing board members—Nate DeVries, Jon Drnek, and Ron Koole. Their faithful work was of great value and benefit to the board and the association.
We would encourage you to read. Read good, solid, Reformed material such as we provide. The Lord uses such material for the strengthening and comforting of His flock. The reading may challenge you, but the Lord will use it for your personal growth and the good of His church.
Above all, we would ask that you pray for the RFPA. Pray that the Lord will give diligence and wisdom to the board so that we can carry out the responsibilities that you have given us. We can do nothing without Him, and selling books is useless if He does not choose to use them for the good of His church and the glory of His name. Pray that God will be with the writers so that they will write books that defend the faith and expose the lie. Ask Jehovah that He will give us more writers and more books. Ask that He will send us readers so that the truth will go forth into every nation, tongue, and tribe.
In Christ’s name and for the RFPA Board,
Jon Drnek, Secretary
* Held September 23, 2021 at Trinity PRC, Hudsonville, MI.