For many with long-term connections to Kuyper College, the names Dick and Thea Van Halsema need no introduction. Both left their marks (during its time as Reformed Bible Institute and Reformed Bible College) in many ways. And comments after their deaths speak of their long and lasting impact.
Wrote one person: “We met Dr. Van and Mrs. Van in the Amazon jungle of Peru in 1982. Thanks, Dr. Van for trusting in us and inviting us to come to study at RBC. As a Latin American, I applaud your desire to encourage the body of Christ in this and other parts of the world. Your love for God, our Creator and your passion for missions was transmitted from you every day.”
Such impact now is being honored at Kuyper with the recently created Dr. Dick and Mrs. Thea Van Halsema Legacy Society.
It is intended to help those who wish to support the College financially by including it in their will, naming the College as a beneficiary of their retirement assets or life insurance policy or making a gift that can provide the donor, their spouse and their loved ones with income for life.
The new Society will be formally announced and celebrated at the college’s April 17 Spring Gala.
Kuyper President Patricia Harris has her own fond memories of the Van Halsemas and said the decision to honor them through a Society that can support the College in so many ways is something they would have appreciated.
“The legacy of Dr. and Mrs. Van is their influence on so many college students, like my husband and me, to engage in God’s missional work all around the world,” she said. “We learned to ‘walk by faith and not by sight,’ a theme penned in one of Dr. Van’s hymns and demonstrated through their lives of service to God and others.”
Ken Capisciolto, Kuyper’s vice president for college advancement, agreed.
“Their legacy on our campus is immense,” he noted. “Dick and Thea were partners in life and in mission as they led first Reformed Bible Institute and then Reformed Bible College from 1966 to 1987. During these years they led the development of many innovative academic and evangelism-focused programs and helped shape the place now known as Kuyper College.”
Capisciolto added that legacy donations will benefit students, and many members of the Kuyper community, as donor’s direct their legacy gifts to be used for scholarships, endowment, special projects on campus and the annual operating fund.
Kuyper leadership is already looking forward to a new annual luncheon for Society members where legacy donors will be celebrated and recognized. The luncheons will include an update on life at Kuyper, speakers and more.
Dick Van Halsema passed into glory in 2005 after a lifetime of evangelism and cross-cultural missions. He also was an accomplished organist and hymn composer, was editor of Missionary Monthly magazine for 36 years and served for almost three decades as an Army Reserve Chaplain, retiring in 1982 with the rank of Colonel.
Thea Van Halsema joined her husband in heaven in 2016, having served her Savior as an accomplished teacher, author, counselor, vocalist and mother of five. That included her work at RBC as both a professor and dean of women.
Her obituary noted that she was known as the capable and loving “Mrs. Van” partner of “Dr. Van” as they served and traveled together in many Christian endeavors around the world during their 56 years of marriage.
Kuyper senior development representative Peter De Boer said that legacy stewardship is a powerful way to support Kuyper College and honor the lives and legacies of both Dick and Thea Van Halsema.
“We hope that giving people a way to make legacy gifts to Kuyper will become contagious, inspiring others just as the Van Halsemas inspired so many during their tenures,” he said.