Today we look at a unique partnership that exists between the Owen Sound Canadian Reformed Church and l’Eglise Chretienne Reformee de Beauce in Saint-Georges de Beauce, Quebec. For quite a number of years, the Canadian Reformed Churches have had ecumenical relations with l’Eglise Reformee du Quebec (the Reformed Church of Quebec — ERQ). This relationship finally developed into one of full ecclesiastical fellowship at our last synod in 2007. However, since about 2001, the Owen Sound congregation has been supporting the outreach work of Rev. Paulin Bedard in Saint-Georges de Beauce. The ERQ congregation there has a pastor (Mario Veilleux) who takes care of the regular pastoral work as well as outreach and evangelism, while Rev. Bedard devotes most of his efforts to education and training. One of his projects is translating and editing a magazine entitled Lumiere Sur Mon Sentier (Light On My Path). If you can read French, you can find issues here. Together with many other Canadian Reformed churches, Owen Sound provides much of the financial support that makes Rev. Bedard’s work possible. While he is not officially a missionary of the Canadian Reformed churches, his work is certainly near and dear to many of us. May God bless his efforts for the gospel in Quebec!
Tag Archives: missionaries
Our survey today takes us to Papua New Guinea and the work being done under the auspices of the Bethel Canadian Reformed Church in Toronto. For many years, the Bethel church was working on the other side of the island in what used to be called Irian Jaya (today commonly referred to as West Papua). Rev. Henry Versteeg and his wife Rita (and their children) were there for many years. Eventually, Rev. Versteeg repatriated and the work in Irian Jaya wound down. While Rev. Versteeg continued to visit the churches there on occasion, the focus of Bethel’s mission work shifted to Papua New Guinea (PNG). In 1997, Stephen t’Hart was called and ordained as Bethel’s new missionary. Along with his wife Dorinda, he spent over ten years doing evangelistic work, as well as church development and theological training. Rev. t’Hart recently repatriated to his home country of Australia where he was called to be a pastor of the Free Reformed congregation in Baldivis, WA.
Interestingly, Rev. t’Hart’s departure resulted in Rev. Versteeg being called again to be Toronto’s missionary. This time, however, he and his wife will be living and working in PNG, carrying on with the work that Rev. t’Hart had been doing. Wayne and Cheronne vanderHeide are also there as mission aid workers.
Overall, the work in PNG is a cooperative effort between Australia (FRCA), New Zealand (RCNZ) and Canada (CanRC). The Aussies have sent Rev. Ian Wildeboer (and his wife Nadia) and Andrew Vanderheide (and his wife Natalie). The Kiwis have sent the Hagoorts and the Doumas. Then of course, the Canucks have sent the Versteegs and the other vanderHeide family. Through God’s grace, we see the beginnings of a Reformed church federation emerging in PNG.
One of my classmates in seminary was Edwer Dethan. Edwer came to Hamilton from West Timor, Indonesia. When he graduated from seminary, he was called to serve as a missionary by the Smithville CanRC here in Ontario. Since 2003, he has served in a small federation of Reformed churches on his home island. Rev. Dethan and his wife Femmie are involved in evangelistic work, theological training, church development, and works of mercy. There used to be a more up to date website (www.missiontimor.com) with more information, but the only thing that I can point to you now is this older website.
Related to that, I find it odd that the Smithville CanRC website doesn’t even mention their missionary and the work they support in Timor. But then we have to be fair and point out that the same is true of the Smithers CanRC with Rev. Witteveen and his work in Prince George. Strange. You would think that churches would want to give maximum public exposure to their mission efforts. Here’s an area where we could definitely be doing better. It’s great that we send out men as missionaries, but we should also support their work in the best way we can — and one way is by implementing effective public relations.
A couple of days ago, I mentioned the work of the Maranatha CanRC in northeastern Brazil. The Cornerstone church in Hamilton has also been involved with mission work in this region since 1988. This work is supported by numerous churches in Ontario. Today, the Rev. A. de Graaf works in the Maceio area (Maceio and Village Campestre). Together with his wife Celia (a Brazilian national), he’s been there since 1998. The work in Maceio is getting close to the point of institution. As in other locales with Reformed churches, the parents of the IRB in Maceio have also established a school, Escola Crista Joao Calvino. The Igrega Reformada do Brasil em Maceio has a website in Portuguese here. The Cornerstone church in Hamilton has English information about the mission work on their website here. There’s also information about the Escola Crista Joao Calvino over here.
We’re continuing our survey of Canadian Reformed missionaries and mission works. We’ve now covered all the missionaries sent out by churches in western Canada. Strangely, all these sending churches are in one classical region: Classis Pacific West. For some reason, there are no churches from Pacific East, Alberta, or Manitoba that have sent out missionaries. I find this regrettable. I know, however, that it hasn’t been for lack of trying. Local churches in Alberta and Manitoba have tossed around the idea of calling and sending a missionary for some years. But until now, unfortunately nothing has gotten off the ground.
At any rate, we arrive on the eastern shores and our first stop has to be my new hometown, Hamilton. During my last stay here (1996-2000), there was a small group of seminary students and others who did evangelistic work in downtown Hamilton. This was mostly concentrated at a place called “the Men’s Residence,” an alcohol and drug rehab centre. Eventually, this work developed into something more organized and official. Richard Bultje became the evangelist/mission worker and Streetlight Ministries was born. It was originally a joint project of the Ancaster and Fellowship (Burlington) churches. These churches continue to be responsible for oversight, although others are also involved in support of the work.
Eventually, Rev. Paul Aasman was called to be the Streetlight missionary. He took up this work in 2006 and through his labours and those of others, the work is moving more and more in the direction of a regular instituted church. Richard Bultje recently left Streetlight to resume seminary studies and Hilco DeHaan took his place. Hilco served for a number of years as a mission worker in Smithers, BC. Prior to Hamilton, he and his family were serving in West Papua, Indonesia with an aid organization affiliated with our Dutch sister churches. Hilco brings many years of experience and a love for sharing the gospel to Streetlight.
There are special challenges associated with working in the inner city, especially poverty, addiction and other mental health issues. Even where those challenges are not present, the darkness of unbelief and the confusion of wrong belief are always there. Streetlight has been brightly shining with the hope of the gospel for some years now — may it, under God’s blessing, continue to do so for many years to come. If you’d like more information, please check out the Streetlight website.