Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

In Memorium Rev. G. Bilkes (1914-1995)

Written by John VanOorspronk
On October 16, 1995, Rev. Gerrit Bilkes was taken Home to be with his Lord and Saviour at the age of 81. Rev. Bilkes was born on January 15, 1914 in Voorburg, The Netherlands. In 1948 he became a candidate for the ministry and accepted a call from the Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk in Mussel. He was ordained as a minister of the Word on January 30, 1949. Rev. Bilkes served the congregation of Mussel until 1955. On September 1, 1955 he was installed as pastor in the congregation of Amsterdam Zuid.

He served in Amsterdam until 1961, when the congregation of St. Thomas extended a call to him. Initially, he declined the call, but the Lord bound it upon his heart and he asked for a second call, which he accepted. This decision had far-reaching consequences, not only for pastor Bilkes, but also for his wife and children. They had to move to a foreign country with a foreign language. Of course, at that time pastor Bilkes did not realize how different an immigrant congregation was from an established congregation in Holland. Not only the congregation, but also the denomination was still in her infancy. On June 29, 1961, pastor Bilkes was installed as minister of the Word in the Free Reformed Church of St. Thomas.

A period of adjustment followed for him as well as his family, which I am sure, was not always easy. His pastoral concern for the congregation was obvious from the very beginning. For pastor Bilkes it was absolutely essential that the young people would hear the Gospel in the English language, so he soon began to preach in English. He was so full of zeal for Christ and His Church, that he took much work upon himself. Not only did he preach and pastor in St. Thomas, on most Lord's days he preaching in London and Mitchell as well. He taught catechism in St. Thomas as well as in London, Mitchell and sometimes in Chatham.

Pastor Bilkes had a great interest in missions and evangelism. During his pastorate in St. Thomas a weekly radio broadcast was started. Pastor Bilkes was the first minister of the Free Reformed Churches to reach out with the Gospel on what is now the Banner of Truth Broadcast.

In 1967 pastor Bilkes accepted a call to Westzaan in the Netherlands. Again, this move had painful consequences for him and his family. Several of his children decided to stay in Canada. In 1974 it was from Westzaan to Bennekom, where he served until 1986, when he became minister emeritus.

Pastor Bilkes' life was characterized by a great love for the Lord. With zeal and vigour he proclaimed the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He went in and out among the congregation to comfort and equip the saints. For pastor Bilkes no task was too much when it concerned the service of the Lord. With composure he went his way, knowing that the Lord was his strength.

The Lord used him in the service of planting and watering the seed of the Word. God Himself gave the increase. With thankfulness to the Lord we remember him and his work. Now that he has fallen asleep in Christ Jesus, he may be with his Sender and see Him face to face.

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