Letters to the Editor

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He Lives!

To borrow a line, “my heart was strangely warmed” when I read your editorial regarding synod and the old hymn “I Serve a Risen Savior” (“He Lives within My Heart”). My music ministry group The Uplifters provides singalongs to several nursing homes each year. “The Old Rugged Cross” and “I Serve a Risen Savior” are always on the program. How glorious to hear the people so lustily sing, when, for many, their life is drawing to a close.

—Robert S. Hough
Beaver Falls, Penn.

Thanks so much for sharing the story of the great debate of whether or not to include “I Serve a Risen Savior” (also known as “He Lives”) in the gray Psalter Hymnal (“He Lives within My Heart”). What a classic story! I love how it shows how music, one of God’s more glorious creations, combined with the Holy Spirit, can sometimes supersede human cognition. And I’d also like to think thank that delegate for requesting it be sung. I love that old hymn!

—Dan Barkel
Hull, Iowa

Welcome Parolees

The news article “Parolees Find Welcome in Edmonton” spoke volumes. As a person who has been incarcerated since 1996, I witness daily the return to prison of those who have been released, mostly a result of being “without the presence of supportive, healthy relationships and communities.”

I continue to pray that my denomination (CRC) and all others would develop some kind of prison ministry, visitation ministry, and reentry program so these men and women will have the support and resources to reintegrate successfully into society.

As my release date is approaching in 2016, my pastor and others have stepped out in faith to offer the love and support that would be nonexistent in my life apart from them.
Semper reformanda.

—Michael Casteel
New Castle, Ind.

Hip-Hop and the Heidelberg

As a young boy, I remember walking through the yard or the cattle yard on our farm and not being afraid, because my small hand was in the grasp of my father’s big, strong hand. He was there to keep me safe.

When I study the world around us today, I see Christians around the world and maybe in our own country suffering through more intimidation, more persecution, and loss of life for their beliefs. So it was refreshing to read the article “Hip-Hop and the Heidelberg.” What better time to ask our young adults or new believers, “Who’s your Daddy?”

Comfort and hope!

Thank you, Reginald Smith!

—Dave Brons
Edgerton, Minn.

Numbers Game

I have mixed feelings about Jonathan Hill’s article “The Numbers Game.” It is possible that the real picture of the “exodus” of young people from church may not be as dire as we think, but Hill’s stats are not clear. First, he only cited stats for Protestant churches in general, not CRC stats in particular. How does the CRC stack up with the national average? Are we worse or better in young people's church attendance?

Second, Hill did not specify if these are U.S. or Canadian stats. As a binational denomination, should we not research both sides of the border?

Finally, Hill’s question “Are we really losing these young people, or did the church ever really have them to begin with?” is not comforting. If this is true of the CRC, the question arises as to what kind of spiritual ethos is there that we can fail so miserably with our baptismal vows to these youths.

—Shaio Chong
Mississauga, Ontario

Mr. Hill wants us to ask the question “Are we really ‘losing’ [our] young people, or did the church ever really ‘have’ them to begin with?” (“The Numbers Game”). He says, “Maybe it is time to stop lamenting this so-called ‘exodus’ and instead start to think of it as a blessing in disguise.”

I looked at the CRC Yearbook stats from 2011-2014 in Classis Hamilton. In those four years we received 53 people through evangelism, and we ought to praise the Lord for each one. Another 135 were received from other denominations and 217 left for other denominations. 467 members were removed from the church rolls during those four years. . . .

Let’s be careful what we call “a blessing in disguise.”

—Jerry J. Hoytema
Burlington, Ontario

Reformed Churches in Nigeria

I thank Albert Strydhorst for his article (“Reformed Churches Attacked in Nigeria”). These vicious attacks on Christian villages, churches, schools, marketplaces, and homes have given rise to thousands of homeless widows and tens of thousands of orphans.
When in Nigeria, I visited Rev. Caleb Ahima, president of the CRC-Nigeria, and asked him if he had any advice for North American churches regarding Islam. His response: “Teach the young the truth of the Word of God with a sense of urgency. . . .”

The root cause of violent attacks on Christians is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

—Marvin W. Heyboer
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Split

Since we now have read what All One Body is advocating (“Grand Rapids Event Advocates Full Participation of Practicing Gay Church Members,” now let us, readers of The Banner, read what the consequences have been in the Evangelical Lutheran Church when they implemented what some of their members advocated. Google “ELCA Has Biggest Split in American Church History.”

—Jake Prins
Grand Rapids, Mich.

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