Pastor, missionary, administrator, and former director of Christian Reformed World Missions (now Resonate Global Mission), Merle Den Bleyker died March 23. Den Bleyker wanted to be known for being a child of God. “He was a man who stood tall in the Lord and bent low to serve him with all his heart,” said a friend.
Born in Holland, Mich., Den Bleyker grew up in northwest New Mexico where his parents served as missionaries. His childhood among the Zuni and Navajo peoples greatly influenced his future ministries and his understanding of mission.
A graduate of Calvin College (now University) and Seminary, Den Bleyker was ordained in 1972. For the next 10 years, he and his wife, Donna, served with what was then World Missions as missionaries in Puerto Rico. He then pastored Calvin CRC in Le Mars, Iowa.
His 14 years, 1987-2001, as director of International Programs and then agency director of World Missions made a large contribution to mission in the CRC. He then served as pastor of Ebenezer CRC in Berwyn, Ill.
In 2013 Den Bleyker retired to Mesa, Ariz., where he and Donna continued to serve God in several different ministries. Until the time of his death, he taught future leaders in the Hispanic churches through Timothy Leadership Training. Before neuropathy limited his physical activities, he enjoyed hiking, biking, and traveling with his family.
Den Bleyker will be lovingly remembered by Donna, his wife of 51 years, four children, their spouses, and 12 grandchildren, who all agree that “the same man the public saw and loved was the same man we saw and loved at home.”