On December 20th one of my heroes died. Bob Hoekstra was 71 and had been in poor health for two and half years. Just a week prior to his death he sent out a note through his web site letting his friends and family know that he felt like God was calling him home to heaven. And a few days later he was home. There are eight men who have radically impacted my faith and influenced my walk with God. I have followed these men as they have followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Bob Hoekstra is one of those men. And even though he has gone home to heaven, he has left a pattern to be followed. I had the chance of sitting in three of his classes while I was at Bible College:Biblical Theology, Growing in Grace and Galatians/Ephesians. I also volunteer in his ministry office with Living in Christ. He supported our family when we went to Kauai to plant the Bible College. And he was one of the few pastors we called when we faced the most challenging theological questions.
On Tuesday evening word of his passing spread across the internet… primarily through Facebook. It was amazing to see how many of my Facebook friends mentioned his death and more importantly the impact his life had had on them. One testimony after another came rolling in. There was no question that Bob influenced thousands of Bible College students.
Here are a few of the things that stand out when I remember Bob Hoekstra.
His “earthen vesselness” was evident. That is the word he coined when he taught through 2 Corinthians 4. He had a weak voice; causing him to carry a cough drop in his pocket. He did not have a striking figure or incredible beauty. He was not an entertainer or a tremendous orator. His speech was plain and direct. There was nothing about his physical appearance that commended him or gave him an edge over my other Bible College teachers.
If that weren’t enough, his classes were consistently scheduled in the afternoon. At 2:00 PM we would role into the Sanctuary having just stuffed ourselves at lunch. With half of his audience in a food induced a coma Bob would pray and begin to teach through his notes. Heads would nod… not out of agreement, but because we were drifting into a mid afternoon nap.
But there is no teacher that had a greater impact on the number of students that Bob had. His systematic teaching on the grace of God, the insufficiency of man, and the need for faith stuck with students to this day. He provided his students with a biblical lens through which life could be processed. He taught on the folly of pride and the need for faith and humility. He taught on the difference between the grace of God and the Old Testament law. He taught on the nature of the Church and preeminence of Christ. All of these lessons sunk down in our hearts and minds and became the theological framework for our daily Christian life.
Another wonderful characteristic about Bob was his thoughtfulness and diligence in preparing his material. He was so well prepared. The notes he gave to the students were unparalleled. I still have mine in a treasured binder and I reference them a few times a year. He worked hard to outline the book he was teaching. He did an excellent job inductively studying the text and identifying the key points. And his book on counseling followed suit. It would be tough to find another book by a Calvary Chapel author as well thought out as How to Counsel God’s Way. He spent years developing that book.
This week I’ve spent a lot of time thinking through the example that he left. I found myself wishing I could have the same impact he had. The evidence of his fruitfulness is remarkable, and it can only be attributed to the power of God working through him. I’m praying that I can grow into that same place of being yielded to God. I’m inspired by his example and I love God more because of the work God did through my friend Bob.