Adrian Van Giessen was a gifted and natural leader who sought out and cultivated the potential in others. He dreamed big and invited others into his vision, daring them to trust God’s calling in their life and to engage in good work to bring about the Kingdom. A good deal of his ministry involved sending the best leaders in his congregations away to new challenges like seminary or church planting. Van Giessen passed away on November 12 after a six-month journey with leukemia. He was 57.
After graduation from Calvin Theological Seminary, Van Giessen was ordained in 1986 and began his ministry career, serving Penticton (B.C.) Christian Reformed Church and Bethel CRC in Acton, Ont. He served Crossroads Community CRC in Ajax, Ont., and The Journey CRC, in Kitchener, Ont., as a church planter. From 2008 until the time of his death, Van Giessen was Regional Leader of Eastern Canada for Christian Reformed Home Missions.
In a eulogy, Van Giessen’s son, Eric, captured his father’s essence with the following words: “More than once you shouted from the pulpit, ‘God is crazy about you!’, while your shoulder twitched and your blue eyes shimmered in a way that convinced me of your statement’s truth. And it was this truth combined with your fervent insistence that God’s grace is radical and transformative and infectious that invited faith into my lifeblood and into the heartbeat of our family.”
Family and friends remember how funny Van Giessen was and how he especially loved the shock value of his jokes. He also enjoyed fishing in a simple boat on a quiet lake before the world woke up, golfing, relaxing in his recliner with a bag of chips and a cold beer, and sharing meals with his family.
Van Giessen will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Barb; their children Tony (and Emily), Ellen, and Eric; and one grandson, Calvin.