Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

In Memoriam: Egon Johan De Roo

Written by George Langbroek
George Langbroek is a charter member and former elder of the Free Reformed congregations of Aldergrove and Chilliwack, British Columbia
Egan Johan de Roo, Abbotsford, B.C. went to his heavenly home on November 16, 1997, one day before his 71st birthday. He was born at Amsterdam, The Netherlands on November 17, 1926. He was the loving husband of Francoise (nee Panchaud) and the dear father of son Jan Willem and daughter Jacqueline.

Egon de Roo was well-known to the members of the congregation in the West, although not so much in the East. It is fitting to remember him who for a relatively short time served the churches in the West as a teaching elder.

De Roo studied law and became a doctor of law, writing and defending a dissertation entitled, Godslastering (Blasphemy: A comparative study on a legal aspect of blasphemy and other religious offences) at the Rijksuniversiteit at Groningen, dated December 18, 1970. He worked as a deputy clerk at the court in Groningen and taught at the University of Groningen.

While working on his first dissertation, he began his study in theology in Groningen. He completed his doctoral studies "cum laude" and started working on a dissertation of some 700 pages, entitled, In het Spoor van de Meester (Following the Master's Footsteps: A critical study of Leo Polak's theories of punishment viewed in light of the philosophy of Gerard Heymans-a Frisian philosopher-psychologist. Polak was Heyman's student). De Roo defended his dissertation successfully at the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit te Leuven (Belgium) on August 29, 1989.

Born in the Gereformeerde Kerk, Dr. de Roo became a member of the Hervormde Kerk after World War II; since 1970 he was a member of the Gereformeerde Bond. The Hervormde Kerk gave him a licence to preach.

At the University of Groningen, de Roo experienced a difficult period. His religious approach was not appreciated at the Faculty of Law, where he taught. It ended by him being relieved of his teaching position. He was glad that this period was over. Throughout these difficult years his intention to move with his family to Canada became firm.

In the summer of 1988 he and his wife visited Chilliwack, B.C., where they contacted members of the Free Reformed Church of Aldergrove. They also met with pastor Bilkes, with whom they were already acquainted in The Netherlands.

On behalf of "Het Reformatorische Dagblad" (Reformed Daily), Dr. de Roo was interviewed by Drs. Van der Zwaag concerning his intentions to emigrate. An article appeared in this paper with the headline, "After (second) promotion Dr. E.J. de Roo flees to Canada." It was described as "an escape from the fanatical modern climate in The Netherlands." In September 1989 the family de Roo moved to Abbotsford, B.C. and became members of the Aldergrove congregation.

Looking back on the years they have been members of the Free Reformed Church, the word of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 8:5 applies here. "They gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God." Amazing, how soon they found a place in the congregation; also, how soon they felt at home! Brother and sister de Roo's birthday celebrations are to be remembered. Often 25 to 30 friends were invited. There was good social fellowship and goodies, followed by praising the Lord with Psalters. There were short speeches, prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord for adding another year to his life. Sometimes we hear the complaint, "none of the members contact me," but Egon de Roo gave himself first to his fellow members. He invited them over. "It is time that we get to know one another," he used to say. Truly, he was a companion of all who fear the Lord (Psalm 119:63).

In the Fall of 1990 brother de Roo was chosen and appointed to be an elder in the Aldergrove congregation. A request, supported by the consistories in the West, was submitted to Synod 1993 to approbate the appointment of elder de Roo to the office of teaching elder. Synod 1993 approved this (Acts, Article 20) and he served the congregations in the West in this position until his death. When pastors were absent, elder de Roo, when available, was quite willing to preach.

Egon de Roo never stopped studying. He attended Trinity Western University, where he took courses in Church History, Canadian History and English literature-not to obtain credits but for other reasons. For him it meant an immersion in the English language as well as studying for the sake of acquiring knowledge. He also met Canadian Christians. The subjects he studied gave him insight on North American perspectives. Yet, with all his admirable achievements, Dr. de Roo remained a very modest man. It was a favour for him to share his vast knowledge. Whenever someone had a question, he was delighted when he could be of help.

When death seemed inevitable, it was not easy for our brother to have to leave his family. Satan, who is a reality and attacks true faith, assaulted him. He told me that he withstood Satan with the words, "Christ is victorious." In the last month of his life he suffered much pain and medicine did not make it easy to have contact with him. That was the experience of the pastors who faithfully visited his bedside.

I count it a blessing that fourteen days before he went to be with the Lord, my wife and I met him being very clear in mind. I read Revelation 21 and we spoke about the heavenly Jerusalem. We prayed, commending our brother to God's grace. When we parted for the last time, he expressed the comfort he experienced.

Is it not often the case that after their passing we realize what friends really mean to us? We ought to give thanks for brother de Roo's life.

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