Aren P. Geisterfer, 85, was a passionate and compassionate man of generous spirit and deep convictions. He was concerned about issues of justice; as one colleague put it, he “was an activist before we knew the word.” He died on March 3, 2015, of natural causes.
Geisterfer was born in Indonesia, the fifth of seven children. A defining moment in his life happened when Japan invaded Indonesia in 1941 and his entire family was interned in various concentration camps. Both of his parents eventually died there. After liberation, Geisterfer was sent to Ceylon (known now as Sri Lanka) and then to the Netherlands, eventually immigrating in 1952 to Edmonton, Alberta, where he worked as a photojournalist, married, and started a family.
After heeding the call to ministry and graduating in 1965 from Calvin Theological Seminary, Geisterfer served Ladner Christian Reformed Church in Delta, British Columbia, and Maranatha CRC in Woodstock, Ontario. After an absence from the CRC for several years, Geisterfer returned in 1980 to serve in campus ministry at McMaster University and Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, where he served for 18 years until his retirement in 1998. Geisterfer then settled in the Ottawa area and became an active member of Kanata Community CRC until his death.
Geisterfer loved life. He dressed with colorful flamboyance and loved to laugh from the bottom of his heart. His children and close friends loved to hear his laughter. The Reformed faith gave him tremendous hope. He loved to share his faith in Christ and to discuss what it meant to follow Jesus in a very practical way. He lived a simple life, reaching out to everyone he met, embracing the missional notion of “Who is our neighbour?”
In 1992, Geisterfer went back to Indonesia to meet the commander of the Japanese concentration camp where he had been interned as a child. He was able to reconcile with this man, accepting him as a brother in Christ. The commander had become a believer as a result of the loving witness in the camp of Geisterfer’s mother.
Geisterfer is survived by his children Ramona and Jim Taylor, Caspar and Leanne, Michael and Margit, Andrew and Joan, Timah and Charles Black, Priscilla Geisterfer and Patti Ramsay, Gloria, Marcia and Pasha Pribylovsky, and by 15 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his former spouse, Amelia A. Geisterfer.