On the next few pages you will find photos and information about the men and women approved by Synod 2015 as candidates for ministry of the Word. I call them “obscure servants.” They are following the model of the one described in Isaiah 53 who became truly obscure. As disciples of the suffering servant, Jesus Christ, they have prepared for the particular service of vocational ministry. They believe Jesus’ words “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39).
Our culture is not one that glorifies obscurity. Even the less edgy word ordinary feels to many like an insult. Yet in the scheme of things, pastoral service in the Christian Reformed Church in North America is a life of obscurity. In spite of our joy at seeing God at work within our churches and ministries, we need to recognize that few people in North America have even heard of this denomination. Not many of our members, if any, receive national acclaim in Time magazine’s list of influential people. Most of our churches are known only within their local communities.
But these candidates are eager to serve, even in obscurity. They may wrestle with the human urge for recognition. They may need some help in learning the virtue of true humility. Some may be tempted to think too highly of themselves and miss the opportunity to glorify God, as they are sometimes treated as if they are extremely significant. Yet they have been trained in the value of servant leadership and are wise if they adopt the posture of the foot washer. Such a posture makes the life of pastoral prayer very natural. Such a posture guards pastors from thinking too highly of themselves and from screaming in protest when inevitable and sometimes unkind criticism is expressed.
Our fine denominational school, Calvin Theological Seminary, has had a part in the training and preparation of each of these candidates. Many of us look upon Calvin as an outstanding institution with worldwide acclaim. Yet we recognize that in the end, it too is an obscure tool, unknown by the vast majority of the world’s population. Even so, it is still wonderfully useful in the hands of a sovereign God. Many of the candidates have earned their degree from this school, and all the rest have completed the required program for candidacy offered through Calvin Seminary on behalf of the Christian Reformed Church. We appreciate greatly the servant heart of the seminary and its faculty in helping prepare ministers for our church.
As you review these pages, offer a prayer for the seminary and its faculty, and offer a prayer for each of the candidates. Pray for their discernment and for patience as they await a call. Pray that they will find joy in the obscure service that awaits them. And be ready to meet them along the way with a word of encouragement as they take their place serving alongside you.
For more detailed information on any of these candidates, visit the Candidacy Committee website at crcna.org.
* Asterisks indicate candidates who are not eligible for call until they have completed all requirements.
Hyeon (Tony) Bang*
Languages: Spanish comprehension
Blake Ian Campbell
Languages: Mandarin, Taiwanese
Languages: Conversational Spanish
Jin Su Hwang
Languages: Conversational in Turkish
David van Eyk*
Chad Van Ginkel
Charles Van Hoffen
Corey Van Huizen*
Scott Van Voorst
Mary L. Vanden Berg
Jesse Lee Walhof*