Student Profile Update: Candidate Iwan Borst

It’s been two years since my profile was last up on the seminary website and, wow, things have changed! First of all, I’m no longer the bachelor I was back then. I married Debbi Hofsink in beautiful Smithers, B.C in the summer of 2017. Married life has been a true blessing as has been living in Northern B.C. Second, I had the opportunity to study at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Before we got married, I spent two semesters in Philadelphia working on my Master of Theology degree. At the moment, I have one more course to finish, which I hope to complete in the summer of 2019. Studying at WTS has been a great experience. It has allowed me to study some topics in-depth, exposed me to some of the best Reformed theologians among our Presbyterian brothers and gave me a firsthand experience of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Third, the past year I had the opportunity to work in Prince George and, to a lesser degree, Smithers, alongside Pastors Tim Schouten and James Slaa. Debbi and I lived in PG for a year where I helped out with the regular pastoral work and outreach. It has been a great learning experience, working both in a large mature congregation and in a church plant and seeing the joys and challenges of ministry in both settings.

Lastly, this time I’m eligible for call. Since leaving Hamilton, I’ve bounced around quite a bit in the past couple of years, but wherever I went, I knew that pastoral ministry is where I’d eventually love to be. I might’ve taken the scenic detour, but God has been good and blessed these experiences to bring Debbi and myself to where we are today. In September I passed my preparatory exam in B.C. and since then we’ve been waiting for a call while finishing up some things here in PG. We look forward to serving him wherever He leads us next.

Introducing Iwan Borst

Hi, I’m Iwan Borst and one of the fourth year students at CRTS. Let me introduce myself: I’m the oldest child of Ralph and Maaike Borst, born some 24 years ago in a small prairie town called Carman. As I grew up, we would go to Carman for church and school, but our home was in the even smaller prairie town of Elm Creek. Or should I say, we lived in the rural area surrounding Elm Creek. Indeed, you had to get off the paved road to get to our house.

Although we loved the Manitoban seasons of mosquitoes and bitter cold, my parents decided that the Old Country wouldn’t be a bad place to raise a family. I didn’t protest: I loved stroopwafels and I already had the indispensable word “snoepje down pat. So at age seven, we left Carman and headed for the Netherlands where we stayed for the next eleven years. In Holland, we lived both in Berkel en Rodenrijs and IJsselmuiden. As I started to reflect on my gifts and interests in high school, I began to consider studying theology to become a dominee. And as I planned, my mind was more or less set on studying in Kampen, since the Theologische Universiteit was only a short bike ride from our house. I had probably never heard of Hamilton or CRTS.

That changed, however, when I entered my final year of high school. As a family we decided to cross the pond again; it was going to take more than a bike to get to seminary. I finished high school in the Netherlands and made plans to study at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Set on going to seminary, I soon graduated with a BA and applied to CRTS. While in Manitoba, I was more or less reconnected with much of my family and my prairie roots by spending most of my holidays working on my uncle’s dairy farm. Without sheep to shepherd, I guess this was the next best thing in preparation for pastoral care.

And so, almost four years ago, this prairie boy left the dusty gravel roads of Elm Creek to move to bustling Southern Ontario and to Hamilton in particular. Here I was, high school only a couple of years behind me, attending classes with guys superior to me in years, experience and wisdom. I can say that it has been a great experience. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another… and over the four years a lot of sharpening has been done: not only in the seminary classrooms, but also in the catechism classes and with mentors (Rev. Agema, Rev. Wildeboer and Rev. VanWoudenberg) during internships. And in the past year it has been a blessing to be able to experience the fruit of this sharpening by teaching and leading worship in various congregations here in Ontario and back home in Manitoba. But what made the experience truly great was the fellowship and friendships that formed during and after the sharpening. For growing can be painful, but when classes can end with laughs and good conversations with friends, these growing pains are much easier to bear.   

Altogether, by God’s grace, seminary has been a great opportunity to learn and grow in the knowledge of God and his work of salvation. And the more that I have studied here, the more my desire to enter the ministry has grown. And yet, I’m not done studying. So at the moment I am making plans to study further and also use these gifts and opportunities that the Lord gives. The Lord has been good and he will remain faithful. He has provided in these last four years and will continue to provide in whatever comes in the next four and thereafter. And perhaps, I pray, he will use this love for the ministry in his church at a future time.