Rev. John Van Ens , 92, exuberant in faith expression, missionary at heart and practice, large in kingdom vision, and well-versed in both the social and the exact sciences, died of old age on April 30.
Van Ens was born in Moline, Mich., where he attended Christian grade school and public high school. After he graduated from Calvin College in l942, he joined the U.S. Army, serving as a second lieutenant in Germany.
Upon his discharge from the military, Van Ens became a mathematics teacher at the Chicago Christian High School. After additional study at the University of Chicago School of Education and the American College of Physical Education of DePaul University, Chicago, Van Ens continued to feel a calling to gospel ministry. He entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in l952.
Following his graduation, he took a call as a missionary in Sri Lanka (Ceylon). He and his twin brother, Clarence, became copastors in the Dutch Reformed Church (now the Christian Reformed Church) of Sri Lanka.
Van Ens held many functions: the several churches in the capital city of Colombo were his responsibility, and he edited the denomination’s church paper, The Herald. He also served as president of the General Consistory and was president of the DRC Bible Institute and Seminary, of which he was cofounder, together with Clarence, also serving as its Professor of Church History.
Van Ens returned to the U.S. in l968 to serve First CRC in Los Angeles. His next move was to Calvary CRC of Vermillion, S.D., where he also cared for the students of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion campus.
He went on to plant a church in Cyprus Gardens, Winter Haven, Fla. His last three years of ministry were spent on the island of Guam as pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church. Always given to multitasking, he also became the manager of the Faith Bookstore.
Van Ens retired in l983, but the work continued. He spent 12 years as Minister of Evangelism at Long Beach (Calif.) CRC, and four years as pastor of visitation at Oasis Community CRC, Orlando, Fla.
From 2003 until the end of life, Van Ens stayed at his daughter Jillian’s home for health reasons.
Like his brother, Van Ens was large in stature, vision and enterprise. Van Ens approached every challenge with an easy can-do attitude. A man of charming, quasi-boisterous spirit and encyclopedic mind, his presence was soon felt at meetings and visits. The resurrection of Christ was the mainstay of his faith. Even a chance meeting was an opportunity to refer to the risen Savior.
Van Ens loved sports; those who knew him will tell you that he could be very competitive.
Van Ens is survived by his wife, Sylvia, and their children Jillian Van Ens, Shanti Bruehl, Lauren Van Ens, Eliza Van Ens, and Soma and John Webb; seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
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