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George Oppenhuizen (1892-1965) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: George Oppenhuizen (1892-1965)

Historical Note:

George Oppenhuizen was born February 1, 1882 in Franeker, Friesland, the Netherlands. Rev. F. TenHoor, who was the pastor of Gereformeerde Kerk in Franeker, baptized him. When his parents, Engele and Agnes moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, the family became members at Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Church. Rev. F. TenHoor also moved to the United States and was the pastor of Oakdale Park CRC (1896-1900). George was four years old when he moved with his parents…At the age of sixteen he made public profession of faith.

At the age of twenty-two George married Gertrude Bouma, who was also a member of Oakdale Park. The following year his family joined other families to become the charter members of the Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church. While a member of Oakdale Park, he volunteered to do mission work in the neighborhood. This work continued when he joined Neland Avenue. To equip himself more fully for the work of evangelization he attended evening classes at the Kent County Sunday School Association, where Professor L. Berkhof of the Calvin Theological Seminary was one of the instructors. He also took correspondence courses with the Moody Bible Institute.

In 1923, George taught at the Riverside Indian Boarding School in Redlands, California. The following year he accepted the position as full-time evangelist working among the Navajo Indians. He worked at Tohatchi (two years), Naschitti (twelve years), and San Antonio (six years). At times his work covered over two thousand miles. The results of his labors for the Lord are seen in the conversions of Indians who became leaders among their own people.

Family circumstances made it necessary to leave the Indian field. From 1943 until his retirement in 1948, George worked as a Grand Rapids Churches missions worker supported by the churches. This involved working at three chapels: Hanley, Ivanrest, and Allen Road. In 1953, he initiated a new project: the Forty-fourth Street Chapel, where he worked there until his retirement. All of the chapels grew through neighborhood evangelism and transfer members from inner-city churches. Allen Road was organized as a Christian Reformed Church in 1953, Hanley in 1962, Ivanrest in 1964, and Forty-fourth in 1976.

At the age of seventy-two, George Oppenhuizen finished his work as an evangelist. He passed away on January 21, 1965.

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