In Memoriam: Rev. Henry “Henk” Smidstra (1943-2017)

In Memoriam: Rev. Henry “Henk” Smidstra (1943-2017)
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Missionary, church planter, and prison chaplain Henk Smidstra was a blessing to many people. Justice issues were close to his heart, especially aboriginal and women’s issues. Smidstra passed away in Langley Hospice on September 21, nine months after being diagnosed with glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer.

Smidstra immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in 1949. He initially worked as a mechanic but later felt the call to ministry and attended Calvin College and Seminary.

Following seminary, he interned for a year in San Francisco at a Native outreach center before going to the Philippines as a missionary and church planter with Christian Reformed World Missions from 1978-1985. After returning to Canada, he worked with the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program and M2/W2 Ministry, a restorative Christian prison ministry named for its man-to-man, woman-to-woman approach, for several years. From 1991 until his retirement in 2012, he served as prison chaplain at two correctional centers for women in British Columbia. During those years, Smidstra participated in restorative justice initiatives in the Christian Reformed Church.

Smidstra enjoyed biking and hiking in the mountains and on the West Coast Trail. One of his greatest joys in the last months of his life was to go with friends to a coffee shop and talk.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Grace, four children, and four grandchildren. Smidstra’s commitment to his family, friends, and colleagues, and his passionate pursuit of justice, equality, and shalom will be his enduring legacy.

About the Author

A former nurse and chaplain, Janet Greidanus is a freelance news correspondent and long-time writer of the In Memoriam column for The Banner.