Each Wednesday evening, Aaron Vriesman, pastor of North Blendon Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Mich., spends time in the gym of Borculo Christian School in a rather unusual ministry—teaching martial arts.
Aaron Vriesman works with martial arts students Andrew and Matthew Bronkema.
Photo by Susan Vanden Berg
A black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Vriesman has been teaching the classes as an outreach ministry of North Blendon CRC since 2007. Open to the community, the classes currently serve 25 students ranging in age from 7 to adults. Fifteen of them are from outside of the congregation. The only cost involved is paying for space and equipment rentals.
Each week students work on their blocks, kicks, and stance as they build self-confidence, improve self-discipline, and demonstrate respect for others. Students with greater experience also develop leadership skills while working with newer students.
The martial arts program is non-competitive in focus. Vriesman states on the program’s website: “I personally believe that competitive martial arts undermine the many personal benefits that are gained through this art.”
Vriesman started Tae Kwon Do training when he was 7 and continued for 8 years. “I started up again in 2002 to help manage the stress of seminary,” he said. The idea of offering a community martial arts outreach ministry “had been in my mind for some time,” he said. Once the program had someone to handle the administrative tasks, he began holding classes in the church basement.
The program later moved to the school gym when the classes outgrew the space.
So far, none of the students have been without a home church, but North Blendon CRC continues to advertise in local newspapers.