Rev. Martin Toonstra, 80, was a godly, humble, sensitive, soft-spoken, and wise pastor who touched the lives of many. He had a heart for missions and reached out to people of diverse cultures.
Toonstra attended Southwest Christian Elementary School in Grand Rapids, Mich., followed by Grand Rapids Christian High School, from which he graduated in 1950. He enlisted in the U.S. military during the Korean War and worked with a medical team at Fort Carson.
Rev. Martin Toonstra Dec. 18, 1932 – Dec 31, 2012
Toonstra was ordained to the ministry and was appointed outreach evangelist for Sherman Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids. The following year, he accepted the challenge of multicultural ministry at Buckley Chapel in Grand Rapids, which later became Grace CRC.
He subsequently served Eastmanville (Mich.) CRC, Willmar (Minn.) CRC, and Second CRC in Randolph, Wisc. He retired from the ministry in 1998.
Toonstra will be remembered for his humble, dedicated service to the Lord. Never one to seek the limelight, he found deep fulfillment in living and sharing the love of his Savior. Both in preaching and teaching it was evident that Toonstra was a student of the Word. His compassion for the sick and suffering made him a wonderful counselor. For many years he made weekly visits at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, where he served as chaplain.
During the Eastmanville years, he played football with the neighborhood kids every Saturday afternoon. He also loved music; his children remember how he would wake them up every Sunday morning with music from his favorite hymns. His ministerial colleagues remember him as the regional pastor who had a sympathetic understanding for their problems.
Toonstra is survived by his wife, Joyce, and their children Dawn and Jim Arringdale, Pat and Dan VandenHoek, Pam and Gary Van Veen, and Jeff and Lynn Toonstra; 14 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.