John Timmer came from a family that for generations had faithfully sown the seeds of the Word of God into the hearts of the next. Shortly before Timmer’s death on March 24, one of his grandchildren wrote, “I just want you to know that Jesus is the most important thing in my life, and that your faithfulness to God is why.”
The Nazis invaded the Netherlands when Timmer was 12—a time of cold, hunger, danger, and fear that shaped his life. After the war he became involved with street evangelism and Youth for Christ. He immigrated to the United States in 1952. A graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, Hartford Theological Seminary, and the Free University of Amsterdam (Th.D., New Testament), Timmer served the Christian Reformed Church for 14 years as missionary to Japan, where he helped plant churches in the Tokyo area. Returning to the U.S., he pastored Ridgewood CRC (N.J.) and then Woodlawn CRC (Grand Rapids, Mich.), retiring in 1995.
A storyteller with a good sense of humor, Timmer was a recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award from Calvin Seminary. His sermons, known for their freshness, depth, and verbal economy, are used as models for seminarians and as resources for preachers. He is also the author of nine books, including two for children, and many essays and articles.
He is survived by Hazel, his wife of 62 years, and their four children and spouses, and by 10 grandchildren who brought him great joy.