Before the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave His church the charge to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20).
From the early years of our establishment in North America (1950), the Canadian Reformed Churches have made efforts to obey this commandment. The Dutch immigrants to Canada naturally took their starting point for foreign mission where their forefathers had begun long before – Brazil and Indonesia. Mission work is understood to be the responsibility of the local church which neighbouring sister churches then support. By God's grace and abundant blessing, over the half-century of our existence in Canada and the US, several foreign mission posts have been established on two continents and numerous churches have been planted.
The current mission posts are as follows:
West Timor, Indonesia – From Smithville, ON
The Canadian Reformed Church at Smithville, ON took the lead in 2003 in calling a missionary to serve on the island of West Timor, Indonesia. Various sister churches in the Niagara region give support for this work. Candidate Edwer Dethan accepted that call and has been working diligently on this island ever since. Based in the area of Kupang and with the help of existing Reformed churches, Rev. Dethan has been planting and overseeing new congregations. Over time the stress has fallen on training indigenous church leaders to serve as elders, deacons and ministers. To that end, a formal Theological Seminary was established by 2006 and continues to thrive. Various updates over the years can be found from the pen of Rev. Dethan here . Rev. Dethan and his wife Femmy also play a major role in helping orphaned children. Mrs. Dethan is chairman of the New Hope Orphanage which takes in street kids and those who, humanly speaking, have no hope to help themselves.
Brazilian Mission - From Surrey, BC
Maranatha Canadian Reformed Church (Surrey) has sent several missionaries over the years to the mission field in Brazil. This work is supported by most of the Canadian Reformed churches in western Canada. Specifically, the field is in the North-East of Brazil, centred around the states of Alagoas and Pernambuco. Several missionaries have laboured in this area since 1972 to the point where a small federation of churches could be established. Presently, Rev. Ken Wieske and Rev. Julius VanSpronsen are working as a team. Because a base of churches has already been established, their work focusses more on training native leaders and specifically deacons, elders and ministers to serve in the churches. As well, the missionaries also answer inquiries from other churches and ministry leaders in Brazil who are keen to know more about the biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, all of which is summarized in the Reformed confessions.
Brazilian Mission - From Hamilton, ON
The Cornerstone Canadian Reformed Church at Hamilton, ON, aided by her neighbouring sister churches, presently has one missionary working in Maceió, Brazil (the North-Eastern part). Rev. Abram de Graaf concentrates his activities in building up the existing church in Maceió toward the day when it may be instituted under indigenous leadership. From time to time he also teaches native Brazilian seminary students in preparation for their work in the churches. This latter work is done in partnership with the missionaries from the church at Surrey, who also work in North-Eastern Brazil. For further information see Igreja Reformada do Brasil.
Papua New Guinea - From Toronto, ON
Bethel Canadian Reformed Church at Toronto, ON, also supported by neighbouring sister churches, has sent one missionary to work in and around the area of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Rev. Henry Versteeg and his wife are serving as missionaries for the second time, having served once before for Bethel church as missionaries in Irian Jaya. There is a house congregation in the village of Ekoro, some 60 km distance from an established church in Port Moresby. Other preaching points have become active in and around the city.