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Introducing Tim vanBeek
“An engineer walks into a seminary….”
Perhaps that sounds like the opening line of a vocational joke, but it was, in fact, the scene on a sunny September day in 2018.
My path to seminary began later in life. I was born in 1984, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the second oldest of six children. The carefree bike rides and backyard baseball games of youth gave way to the halls of academia when I graduated from high school and began postsecondary studies in Computer Engineering at the University of Manitoba. Thoughts of the ministry had crossed my mind a time or two, but French put the fear of languages in me and prevented me from pursuing the prerequisites. Fast forward through five years of lab-work and exams, and I stood proudly with diploma in hand and (iron) ring on finger. An engineer for life… so I thought.
I quickly settled into a comfortable career, working first in the rail industry and then in medical physics at a local hospital. Work went well and afforded enviable flexibility, yet at the same time life was full of friends and family. Every week again, I was encouraged and convicted by the Word preached faithfully in my home congregation of Redeemer Canadian Reformed Church. In all this, God gave abundantly and soon set before me new opportunities. I found time to read and think. A nearby university offered Hebrew courses, and so, richly blessed with time and a developing interest, I began to test the waters.
The Hebrew language requires a quiet study space and caffeine, and both needs were happily met at a local coffee shop. This, too, was a small beginning, because, although I became a regular visitor with sincere intentions to study, I soon discovered another reason to visit. A certain Emma van Weerden had recently moved from Guelph to Winnipeg for graduate studies at the University of Manitoba and taken a part-time job at this very establishment. What started off as free coffee turned into good conversation and long walks along the Red River, and, in the summer of 2016, we were married.
The following year was full of blessing and apprehension. The language requirements were completed, but the timing of a transition to CRTS was still unclear. I had reached the 10-year mark at work. My contributions were valued, my colleagues became friends, and over this time I accrued additional responsibilities. Moreover, in May of 2017, Emma and I received a beautiful daughter whom we named Arielle. We were setting down roots in a wonderful community. Suddenly the once-distant future felt very imminent, and the weight of leaving became heavier. Yet, there was also a sense that we had “set the hand to the plow.” So we went, secure in the care of our loving Father. Time and again, we felt the blessing of the Lord on our transition from Winnipeg to Hamilton.
Four years of seminary life have passed very quickly with more than a few notable highlights. In February 2019, we welcomed our vivacious son Judah. Then Covid-19 came and went, though not without disturbing a few well-laid plans. In the summer of 2020, the opportunity for an internship abroad was dashed against the rocks of Australian border restrictions. But where one plan falls, another opportunity beckons, and we were quickly and warmly welcomed in Attercliffe, where I spent 12 weeks under the mentorship of Rev. R. Vermeulen. In January 2021 we rejoiced to receive another son, whom we named Caius. Then again, in the following summer, we enjoyed another opportunity to work, filling a vacancy in Elora Canadian Reformed Church for 10 weeks and giving us another taste of what life in the ministry would be like.
Today, I’m preparing myself to walk out of these now-familiar doors. There is some trepidation: the world changes, and my world has changed. And yet, there is unspeakable comfort. Why? Because God does not change. His Word will never pass away. His plans for us are eternal. And so, secure in this knowledge, I plan to present myself to Classis Ontario-West at the beginning of June, seeking an opportunity to serve our Lord and his Church.