Jelle Nutma lived the last 21 years of his life with limitations as the result of a debilitating stroke, but that didn’t prevent him from continuing to serve the Lord and being an inspiration to others, impacting them through his faith, his values, and his character. Nutma died on May 6 at age 89.
Four-year-old Jelle’s dream of becoming a pastor was somewhat prompted by his mother making him memorize psalms when he was naughty. “Hence he knew them all,” said his family. “Standing on a box, he’d preach to the empty chairs.” And so, at the age of 19, he emigrated from Friesland, the Netherlands, to Hamilton, Ont., and later studied and graduated from Calvin College and Seminary. Financially poor at the time, and with a full course load, he took every opportunity to take on part-time painting jobs.
Nutma was ordained in 1959 and served many Christian Reformed congregations in Ontario: Bethel CRC in Acton; Calvin CRC in Dundas; Maranatha CRC in Bowmanville; Wyoming CRC; First CRC in Rosslyn; and Smithville CRC. In many of these locations, Nutma was involved in establishing Christian schools. He then moved west to pastor First CRC in Rocky Mountain House, Alta., before returning to Ontario to serve Strathroy East CRC until he retired.
There were many family camping trips with an old tent trailer during the years when the family was growing up. “Each year brought us moments that are indelibly etched in our memories,” Nutma’s children said at his memorial service.
Nutma suffered a severe stroke in 1996 and from then on lived in an assisted living facility. Although the stroke ended the Nutmas’ dreams of traveling together, they chose to make the best of the situation, keeping a great attitude and living life to the fullest.
Nutma is survived by his wife, Alida; their children Harry and Miriam, Sid and Alice, Margaret and Richard, Faith and Terry, Andrew and Darlene; and by 23 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren.