Rev. Hendrik (Henk) De Bruyn, 76, a visionary, warm, gentle pastor known for his kind encouragement and persistence in pursuing causes of justice, died Feb. 21 from cancer.
De Bruyn was born in Lemmer, the Netherlands. He attended schools in Amsterdam and served in the Dutch Royal Air Force, in which he was active in code communications. Following his honorable discharge he immigrated to Canada.
De Bruyn attended Calvin College from 1958–1961, and received his M.Div. from Calvin Theological Seminary. He pursued doctoral studies at St. Stephen’s College in Edmonton, Alberta.
De Bruyn served three Christian Reformed Churches: Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1965; Ambassador Community, Windsor, Ontario, 1969; and Nardin Park Community, Detroit, Mich., 1972.
His life’s work, however, was devoted to ministry with Canada’s native population. In 1974 he was appointed executive director of the Indian Family Centre, a ministry of the Christian Reformed Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which he served with great diligence and vision till his retirement in 2000.
The goal of the Indian Family Centre was to understand how Jesus’ redeeming love was at work within the culture and traditions of aboriginal people.
In a community living with significant hurt and brokenness, De Bruyn worked to enable the Savior’s healing grace and new life to be expressed within the context of peoples’ cultural traditions.
His ministry was marked by a deep understanding and appreciation of aboriginal people. He recognized the importance of listening to and learning from those whom he came to love so deeply. He knew that cultural reconciliation requires people and cultures to be changed by God’s light.
De Bruyn contributed effectively to the well-being of Winnipeg’s urban affairs. In his retirement he continued with the worship circle of the Centre, which honored him in the traditional aboriginal way as an elder.
De Bruyn is survived by his wife, Fran, and their children, Astrid De Bruyn and Jean LeJeune; Rick and Patricia De Bruyn; and Jake and Joan De Bruyn, and three grandchildren.