In Memoriam: Rev. Dr. Eugene (Gene) Francis Rubingh (1931-2021)

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“My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” These words from Acts 20:24 shaped Gene Rubingh’s entire life. He died Dec. 20, 2021, one day after his 90th birthday.

At an early age Gene discovered a gift for the spoken and written word, and he won several debate and speech contests as a teenager. In 1949 he began studying at Calvin College (now University) where he developed deep and lasting friendships. In 1955 he received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Free University of Amsterdam and in Basel, Switzerland, with Karl Barth.

Ordained in 1957, he left with his wife and infant daughter to be a missionary in Nigeria with Christian Reformed World Missions (now part of Resonate Global Mission). In one of his journals Gene wrote, “I was granted the freedom to walk the trails of Tivland and tell the gospel and start schools and, with Darlene, heal wounds and match word and deed. It was the greatest adventure.”

In 1968 civil war forced the family to return to the U.S. They settled in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Gene finished his Ph.D. and eventually served as executive director of Christian Reformed World Missions. He later worked for the International Bible Society (now Biblica) as vice president of translation and also for a time, as director of Scripture distribution. In that role he helped to share millions of Bibles, including to people living in the Soviet-controlled part of Europe that was closed to the gospel during the Cold War.

During retirement, while a member of the Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids, Mich., Gene poured his energy into the congregation’s mission to the refugee community. “His mission in each phase of his life was to give beauty back to beauty’s giver,” said one of his sons.

Predeceased in 2017 by his wife, Darlene, Gene is survived by a daughter, three sons, and their spouses; six grandchildren and spouses; and two great-grandchildren.

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.