God raises up certain people at certain times to do his work.” Jerry Jonker often said this about others, but 36 years ago God called Jonker to serve The Back to God Hour (BTGH) in a unique way.
Jonker was serving on the BTGH board in 1969 when the agency was approached about an opportunity to broadcast from TransWorld Radio in Bonaire. Shortwave radio broadcasts from this small island could reach the entire Western Hemisphere and many countries in Europe and the Far East.
The cost was steep and not in the budget, but that didn’t stop Jonker. He contacted several businessmen committed to the vision, raised the money, and changed the course of ministry. RACOM Associates, Inc., was established to raise support for expansion of The Back to God Hour’s ministry.
“If someone said it can’t be done, Jerry found a way to get it done,” recalled Rev. Joel Nederhood, former director of The Back to God Hour.
“We had the tools to change people’s lives if the resources were there. Jerry knew how to communicate [our vision] to people with financial resources. He helped people understand that the resources entrusted to them were given for a special purpose,” Nederhood added. “It amazed me what Jerry could accomplish with one phone call.”
“You pioneered stewardship for the denomination,” Rev. Robert Heerspink, director of The Back to God Hour, told Jonker at a dinner in his honor. “Your entrepreneurial spirit is a gift. You saw people who could be reached.”
To give people a firsthand look at what God was accomplishing through media outreach, Jonker began organizing tours to international locations where The Back to God Hour was active. He also established a network of volunteers to do hands-on work.
One such team, in Holland, Mich., still exists, delivering 45,000 Today devotional booklets to businesses, churches, and apartment complexes in West Michigan.
At age 86, Jonker recently retired from the RACOM board but continues to coordinate the volunteer team.
In response to the tributes paid to him at the dinner, he was quick to shift the focus, saying they did only “what God allowed us to do. Many people helped [move] forward the ministry of The Back to God Hour.”