New Faces in Chaplaincy: August 2020

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Chaplaincy and Care Ministry welcomes Michelle DePooter-Francis, Lisa DeYoung and Tom Van Wyk. Learn more about their work and ministry here!

Chaplain Michelle DePooter-Francis

I grew up near Sarnia, Ontario in a Christian family and have been part of the Christian Reformed Church since I was born. Growing up, my family had foster children and adopted 6 of my siblings, so I grew up with the idea of welcoming others into the family. All through my growing up years, I wanted to be a missionary. I went on a couple of mission trips to Mexico when I was in high school and college and loved meeting people from different places and cultures and learning more about them. 

After I finished my Bachelor's degree from Kuyper College in 2000, I moved to Montreal to work as an intern with Ministry to Seafarers. What was supposed to be only a 9 month internship has turned into a chaplaincy career of 20 years serving seafarers. We work with the crew of the ships arriving in the Port of Montreal, serving their physical, emotional, spiritual, and justice needs. I love meeting seafarers from all over the world, learning about their cultures and customs, spending time talking with them and listening to them, and sharing the love of Jesus through word and deed. 

I was ordained as a Commissioned Pastor in the CRC in 2004 and completed a Master's degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2016. I am married with 4 children. My husband is from India and we met when he came to Montreal on a ship. I love being a chaplain and am excited to be part of this group of CRC chaplains. 

Ms. Lisa DeYoung

Lisa works as the Coordinator for Pastoral Care and Spiritual Direction with the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI) at the Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, MI.  She is a recent graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and has been trained as a Spiritual Director through the Dominican Center at Marywood in Grand Rapids, MI. In her work, she directly engages the students in CPI around matters of Christian Faith and practice so that they can think deeply, act justly, and live wholeheartedly as Christ's agents of renewal in the world. In her work, she provides one-on-one and group spiritual care. She also collaborates and coordinates with interns and volunteers between the CPI, Calvin University, and Calvin Theological Seminary.

Lisa shares, "What inspires me is getting to have a front row seat to see the power of the Holy Spirit at work. When I sit with someone and watch their tears flow, I am deeply aware of the healing work of the Holy Spirit-of how God is bringing hope and healing in the space."

Mr. Thomas Van Wyk

I was born and raised in Chicago (South Side – Roseland to be exact.) After HS Graduation, I started college, but dropped out mid-first semester. I avoided church because for years I had doubts and questions, and could not get any real answers to them. After dropping out, I worked as an apprentice carpenter. The Vietnam war was still going, and so was the draft. I did not want to end up in the infantry, so in 1972 I enlisted in the Navy and reported to Boot Camp in April. I was sent to Electronics school, and I was offered Nuclear submarine training (adding 2 years to my enlistment). I was sent to California, then Idaho for Nuclear training. After 2 years of training, I was sent to Pearl Harbor (1974) with orders to the USS Scamp (SSN 588) as a Reactor Operator. I served on board the Scamp until my discharge in April 1978.

I married in Feb 1978 and after my discharge from the Navy later that year, I worked as an Engineer in the commercial nuclear power industry. Around 1986, we had some family struggles, and one good outcome from this is that it led us to God, and then to church. Over time, we got more involved in church, moved to Illinois, and joined Orland Park CRC (ironically the church I left).

We joined New Life Church (Jul Medenblik), then Eagle Rock Church where I became an elder, then was ordained to pastoral ministry). We explored seminary for several years, and I started full time at CTS in August 2013. I found Pastoral Care classes to be most fulfilling, and I planned on taking CPE between my second and third year, but instead we spent some time with our son after his return from his second combat tour of Afghanistan. 

After graduating (M.Div.) from CTS, we pursued a call to a church, but we did not see any progress. I questioned where God was leading me. I applied for CPE and was accepted. I worked at Metro Hospital for my clinical hours. I really felt fulfilled working as a Chaplain intern in health care. I applied for a CPE residency at Pine Rest and was accepted. I also worked at Metro Hospital during my residency. It was during my CPE residency that I realized that the hospital had become the ministry I was seeking. I continued at Metro after completing my CPE Residency as a part time chaplain (0.5 FTE). I continued to feel called to hospital/health care chaplaincy. I feel strongly that this is my calling, and would like to return to it full time. I have been pursuing Chaplain openings in Health Care/hospitals.

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