Giving Hearts
Donor Testimonials

James and Dolly Strikwerda
Holland, Michigan

James and Dolly’s love for the Lord is evidenced by their 62 years of Christ-centered marriage.

Although they both graduated from Calvin College, James and Dolly were introduced later by mutual friends. Their relationship began in 1951 on a blind date with James hitch-hiking from Ann Arbor—where he was attending the University of Michigan School of Dentistry—to Grand Rapids where Dolly was teaching at Oakdale Christian School. They have since been blessed with three children, 11 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

While in dental school—with no thought of going to war—James joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps and subsequently spent 16 months in Asia during the Korean War.

After completing his tour of duty, James and Dolly were married and moved to Holland, Michigan where James began his own dental practice. Over the years, Dolly has learned different aspects of dentistry and helps out when needed. James now shares the practice with his son, Richard, and daughter-in-law, Susan, and he and Dolly enjoy their scaled-back involvement with the business.

They are grateful for their extended family’s fervent engagement with the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). Dolly’s oldest brother, Ty Hofman—a 1951 graduate of Calvin Seminary—was the first Canadian to be ordained in the CRC. In 1996, her niece, Ruth Hofman, was the first woman to be ordained in the CRC. Several other relatives have since graduated from Calvin Seminary.

Reflecting on their own lifelong memberships in the CRC—now members of Bethany CRC in Holland, Michigan—James and Dolly seek to set a good example for their children and grandchildren on how to live a God-centered, disciplined, Christian life.

To continue their family’s legacy in the CRC, James and Dolly have included Calvin Seminary in their Estate Plan. They are both passionate about the need to spread God’s Word and are committed to financially helping students during their time at Calvin Seminary as they prepare for ministry.

James and Dolly are grateful for God’s blessings in their lives and are so thankful to be able to help in spreading the Good News of the Gospel as faithful financial partners in ministry with Calvin Seminary.

 


 

John and Barbara Belanus
Wyckoff, New Jersey

My wife, Barbara, and I are lifelong members of the Christian Reformed Church. Over the course of many years, we have been pleased to witness the part that Calvin Seminary played in denominational growth and development. The Christian Reformed Church does not suffer from a lack of willing and called leadership, but many young church leaders are hindered by the cost of a seminary education. We choose to support the Seminary financially in order to encourage these future church leaders and ensure that they are well trained and prepared for kingdom work.

A personal connection with President Emeritus Neal Plantinga played a part in encouraging us to get involved with the work of the seminary. Watching Neal over the course of his tenure as President and getting a sense of his vision for the seminary, including beginning the Distance Learning program, inspired us to include Calvin Seminary in our future giving.

One of the benefits of giving to Calvin Seminary is feeling assured that the education students receive is both relevant and beneficial for the future of the Christian Reformed denomination. Watching future leaders who come out of Calvin Seminary become part of the worldwide outreach of our denomination is encouraging! Our pastor is similar in age to my children, and it has been good to see the next generation of Seminary-educated leaders become immersed and involved in the work of the church.

While we have a scholarship fund that supports current students as they seek seminary education, we also strongly believe in the importance of planned giving. Making financial decisions while sound in mind and with the benefit of pre-tax investing options allows my wife and me to increase the amount of the gift we are able to give to an institution that is important to us and to God’s work in the world.

As we have been blessed by the gifts God has given us, we find our participation in the work of God through support of Calvin Seminary to be an important part of returning those gifts to the Lord and to His kingdom.

 


 

Phil and Mary Frens
Whitecloud, Michigan

We count it a great privilege to have grown up in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and value the influence of that upbringing on our ministry, teaching in Christian schools and serving in the pastorate. Both of us feel incredibly grateful to God to have benefitted from the Reformed worldview of the CRC.

Being called into ministry through a mission emphasis program in the First Reformed Church of Fremont, I (Phil) chose to attend Hope College and Western Theological Seminary and served Reformed Church of America (RCA) churches throughout my ministry. Although I served RCA churches, my ministry was shaped by my CRC roots. Rev. George Holwerda was a particularly significant and influential figure for me. (From experience, I learned you knew your catechism lesson or spent the next hour in his study learning it!) His preaching and teaching shaped the way I approach Scripture and ministerial service.

Growing up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, there was no doubt in my parent’s mind that I (Mary) would be going to college and that college would be Calvin! I graduated from Calvin College with an Elementary Education degree and received my Masters from Purdue University. I taught in the Christian school systems of Lafayette, IN and in the south Chicago suburbs.

In retirement, we have returned to the CRC and feel as though we never left. We chose to endow a scholarship with Calvin Seminary for a student who desires to seek ordination and participate in parish ministry. We feel that North America needs teachers and pastors who are Christ-centered and have a God-glorifying, Biblical worldview. We believe that it is important that we follow the Word of God regardless of cultural changes or social trends.

God has abundantly blessed us in this life with the ability to learn, find jobs, and be successful and frugal in our living. Because of God’s providence, we now participate in the joy of giving. We like to think about long-range blessings for others. Our desire is to give back what God so generously gave to us so we can be a blessing as we have been blessed.

 


 

Tom and Evelyne Kapteyn
Tom and Evelyne Kapteyn
Grand Haven, Michigan

“We started a scholarship at Calvin Seminary because our hearts go out to the students. Scholarship support makes education possible for many students today. We want God’s work to continue, and we want Calvin Seminary to grow. We think it’s the center of where the Christian Reformed Church is headed. We’re also delighted that the seminary started the Center for Excellence in Preaching, because excellent preaching is vital to the future of the church. We’ve been blessed by hearing the students’ vision for ministry, and we’re happy to do what we can to help others and spread the Word of God.”

 


 
John and Judy Steigenga
John and Judy Steigenga
Grand Rapids, Michigan

“We included Calvin Seminary in our estate plan because we are convinced that it offers now and will offer in the future a superb place for people to be trained for the gospel ministry from a Reformed viewpoint. We have supported our family scholarship at Calvin Seminary for 20 years and plan to continue to do so, along with providing support to the Seminary itself.”

 


 
Dewey and Wilma Veenstra
Dewey and Wilma Veenstra
Pella, Iowa

“Several years ago we were approached by Calvin Theological Seminary to fund a scholarship to support a seminarian in need of tuition assistance. While contemplating this, we thought about the sizeable debt incurred by a hopeful seminarian upon completion of college even before seminary and that most likely many will have a family to support as well; a daunting responsibility.

“We reconsidered our lives that began with little debt but with modest monetary resources and how hard we worked to make ends meet with three children. This involved more than one job and our days began early, finishing late six days a week and continuing for many years. Nonetheless we were indeed blessed. God provided for our needs abundantly and granted us health and work. To God we give all glory.

“With this in mind, we determined that our help with a seminarian’s tuition would greatly decrease their financial burden while providing them more time to dedicate to their studies; devoting themselves fully to their formation for ministry. We believe it is crucial that our children and grandchildren receive the same rich blessings as we have; sound, biblical, engaging preaching by meaningful church leaders, and a place where they can again renew themselves and be filled with God’s grace and love.

“What better way to show our gratitude to God for his faithfulness and at the same time leave a legacy for future generations? We intend to follow through with this practice of supporting young people dedicated to becoming effective preachers faithful to Scripture.

“Recently, we requested that our children continue supporting our scholarship at Calvin Seminary after our passing. To accomplish this we reconstructed some estate planning by rolling our 401K-retirement plan into a charitable gift fund. From this our gift will continue for scholarships to Calvin Theological Seminary for those wishing to enter the ministry.”

 


 
Huizenga Family
Mark and Kris Huizenga
Walker, Michigan

“It has been a privilege and honor to serve on the Calvin Theological Seminary Donor Council.  During one of the meetings I (Mark) heard a presentation featuring the distance learning program.  I was impressed that this program was able to provide a high quality education to students around the world and also create a model of accountability requiring students to physically spend time at the seminary twice per year.  One of the goals of this online program is to help students maintain their relationships where they are currently serving and ultimately work to spread the gospel in their area. One story that stood out to me was of a student living in Singapore who was interested in studying at Calvin Seminary through the distance learning program. This student was able to afford the tuition but was unable to pay for the required visits to Calvin Seminary twice per year.  I returned home and told my wife about this need and we both knew that we needed to help create a travel scholarship for students in this situation. We appreciate the teaching, training, and mentoring the seminary offers but felt we needed to help if the cost of the trip to the United States was holding back students from enrolling. What an exciting way to assist others in sharing our love and belief in Jesus Christ within their communities across the globe. It is our hope that others will learn about this travel scholarship and want to help others.”

"It is a privilege to study the Christian faith and a joy to learn how to really live it out."
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- David Shin
"God is forming me for ministry."
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