Dutch Evangelist Nol Esmeijer Dies After Illness

Netherlands' Evangelical Broadcasting Corporation (EO) has died following a long struggle with Parkinson disease, a leading evangelical monthly newspaper reported Sunday, August 28.Up to 1,000 people attended the funeral service in the Grote Kerk (Big Church) of the Dutch town of Apeldoorn, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) east of the capital Amsterdam this month, said Uitdaging (Challenge), ahead of its September publication.

Esmeijer,74, was later buried in his nearby hometown of Hoenderloo, where he and his wife Helene had opened their villa and large garden every Saturday for evangelistic 'Open House' meetings throughout the last three decades.

"Thousands of young people came to Christ because of his work," said Dutch journalist Johan Th. Bos, who was a close friend of Esmeijer. Many of the youngsters attending the meetings became missionaries or started their own Open House ministry, Uitdaging reported.

SPIRITUAL CRADLE

"My spiritual cradle stood near Nol and Helene where I learned more about my heavenly Father," Uitdaging quoted Pastor Robbert Jan Perk as saying at the farewell ceremony in Apeldoorn. "The arms of Nol became like those of the Father," Perk added.      

Born in the Dutch town of Ermelo, Nol Esmeijer grew up in a Calvinist family and became a 'born again' Christian at the age of 18, Uitdaging said. Esmeijer studied theology at the Free University of Amsterdam, but broke off that study to focus more on evangelization.

He earned his living as a successful copywriter and eventually as marketing manager for a major Dutch education institute. In weekends he preached the Gospel both at home and at churches, coffee bars or mass meetings throughout the country.

"KING OF KINGS"

A BosNewsLife reporter recalled how one day he urged young people to look beyond the Dutch  queen during a firing sermon in his garden. He suggested that youngsters seem more excited about meeting the queen than meeting the "King of Kings."

"It may be difficult to meet her, but you can always meet "the King of Kings," he said. He always urged people to make a personal decision for Jesus Christ. "Otherwise you will be without Him for eternity and that is terrible," Esmeijer warned.

In the turbulent 1960's he was a co-founder of EO, which later became the largest public network in the Netherlands. From the 1970's Esmeijer counseled young people at home after they were confronted with the Christian message in coffee bars run by organizations such as Youth for Christ.

HEALTH WARNINGS

Esmeijer shrugged of warnings that he was to busy with this and other evangelical activities, and would soon get a hart attack. "Than I am a few years earlier with the Lord," he reportedly said. Esmeijer added he wanted to see his Lord to "thank him personally" for what He did for him.

As a well-known speaker with a special voice, it saddened him that he could no longer use his speaking talent as his Parkinson disease rapidly progressed, Uitdaging recalled. That sadness is now over. "Esmeijer is home," a death announcement said. (With reports from the Netherlands).

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