Dwayne Thielke, pastor and longtime missionary in the Philippines, died July 27 following three months in the hospital for complications of heart bypass surgery.
Adopted at birth, Thielke grew up attending Creston Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. He began studying at Calvin College at age 16 and worked in business after graduation. Called to ministry, at age 42 he enrolled at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., and met his future wife, Gladys, on summer assignment. Ordained in 1985, he pastored Lucknow (Ont.) Community CRC for five years.
In 1990, the Thielkes joined Christian Reformed World Missions (now Resonate Global Mission) and moved to Tacloban, Philippines, to minister among the Waray people.
“If I had a question about biblical interpretation, theology, or a contemporary issue, I always wanted to know what Dwayne thought,” said one missionary colleague. “He was bright, a good thinker, and approached issues as one who loved the Lord Jesus and wanted to be faithful to him.”
The Thielkes transferred to south of Manila in 2005 and retired there in 2011. He continued serving the local church and elsewhere, including Asian Theological Seminary, Red HAT ministry to people with HIV and AIDS, Timothy Leadership Training, and World Renew in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Myanmar. He was an avid gardener, proficient handyman, computer whiz, and nature enthusiast.
Resonate missionary Stan Kruis visited Thielke a few days before his surgery. “He told me about the Christian family that he was adopted into, his church, and people and experiences that shaped him. … Gratitude to God was a very strong theme in Dwayne's life.”
Predeceased by son Fred, who died in a mountain climbing accident in 2018, Thielke is survived by Gladys, his wife of almost 35 years, sons Tim and Matt, Filipina daughters Rowena and Melanie, and three grandchildren.