John Elenbaas, 89, was a veteran of World War II, a sympathetic and gentle pastor, and a diligent student of the Word. He passed away on February 18 following a bout with heart trouble.
Elenbaas was born in Lynden, Wash., where he attended Christian schools. He enrolled at Calvin College in 1942, but his college career was interrupted by WW II. He saw God leading and protecting him throughout the war. An army chaplain in Hawaii challenged him to consider the ministry as his vocation. Upon his discharge from the military in 1946, he reenrolled at Calvin College, followed by seminary studies. He graduated in 1952.
Elenbaas enjoyed serving the small Christian Reformed congregations he was called to: Holland Center CRC, Lodgepole, S.D.; Mountain Lake (Minn.) CRC; Doon (Iowa) CRC; Second CRC in Wellsburg, Iowa; and Conrad (Mont.) CRC. Elenbaas retired in 1987.
Following retirement, he and his wife settled in Bozeman, Mont., where many years of fruitful ministry followed. He filled many a pulpit, visited people who were sick or in need, and served churches without a regular pastor, including Gallatin Gateway (Mont.) CRC. Even during the closing chapters of his life at Hunter's Pointe in Helena, Mont., he regularly made pastoral visits, conducted Bible classes, and occasionally led services in Helena CRC, his favorite time being Lent.
Elenbaas was a kind and gracious man. He had a big heart for the incarcerated and for many years was a one-on-one instructor for Crossroad Bible Institute. His disarming kindness and ready understanding made him a sought-after pastor for those seeking encouragement. During the latter years of his preaching ministry, he increasingly emphasized the assurance of faith and salvation believers may claim in their Savior.
Elenbaas loved singing. He met his wife, Maybelle, while singing in the Back to God Hour Choir. Reading, hiking, mountain climbing, and gardening were other interests. He was known to be a wonderful family man. When Maybelle struggled with health problems, he cared for her with great devotion.
Elenbaas is survived by Maybelle and their children Irene and David De Groot, Kathy and Evan Baas, Herman and Sheila Elenbaas, David and Twila Elenbaas, and Daniel and Joanne Elenbaas, and by 19 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.