On November 3, 2019, at age 93, my dad, Jacob Kuntz, was gently carried from this life into the mystery of life completed in Christ.
Dad was born in Assen, the Netherlands on Feb 13, 1926, the second of five children. Dad felt the pull of the ministry from a young age, and threw himself into his studies with determination and much family encouragement. He went into hiding during the Nazi occupation, and after the war he served as a military chaplain.
He met Maria Biesheuvel, an evangelist working in Assen, in 1947, and after a 4 year engagement they married and together began their ministry. Dad called mom his “zon”—his sunshine. They were blessed with three children: Mathilda, Evelyn and Don.
Dad served congregations in Tzum (Friesland) and Schoonebeek (Drenthe) in the Netherlands before immigrating to Canada in 1958. Mom and dad wrestled with the call from Orillia, and finally laid out a “fleece” through which they understood the Lord to be inviting them to emigrate. In Canada they served congregations in Orillia, Owen Sound, New Westminster, St. Catharines and Kitchener, ending his ministry with several years as a chaplain at the Holland Christian Homes in Brampton.
Dad was by nature a cheerful man; yet he experienced profound grief. In 1977 Mathilda developed a rapid form of multiple sclerosis, and she passed away in 1981. Don experienced many ups and downs, and died of a heroin overdose in 2001. As dad would have said, these events left a deep stamp on their lives.
Dad dearly loved his three grandchildren, Joya, Justin and Adrian. Cottage vacations with the three generations were a treat. He taught them how to fish, and was not discouraged when his lessons did not progress beyond childhood. He enjoyed their loving phone calls right to the end, even though in his final weeks he could not communicate with clarity. He delighted in the opportunity to get to know his great grandson Lyric.
Dad kept a daily journal for almost his entire adult life. His final entries are barely legible scrawls. Frequently when we are sharing memories, someone will say, “let’s look it up in the journals,” and sure enough, his entries will correct our wobbly remembering. What a gift!
Dad loved his congregations with a pastor’s passion, and had a gift for connecting newcomers with others. He had a reputation for perfecting the fifteen minute pastoral visit: arriving unannounced, inviting himself for a bowl of soup (he loved food!), offering a pastoral prayer, and then continuing on his way. He especially had a heart for children, the lonely and those on the edge, those who were a minority in any way. He understood that human lives are often messy, and he practised a “freedom in Christ” that others often found liberating and non-judgmental. His graciousness extended to his sense of humour; for example, he loved to tell grooms that they should always thank God for their new bride’s faults, because without those faults the woman would have been able to marry a better man.
He loved to preach the grace of God—from the pulpit, or on the Dutch radio program Zingend Geloven. He was an encourager, ending every visit with a fervent raised- hands “Lift up your heart!” even during his final week.
We miss him deeply. We know that the grace and truth he embodied will continue to shape us all of our days, and we will remember him with rich gratitude and love.
Dad is survived by his daughter Evelyn and son-in-law Syd; grandchildren Joya (Igor), Justin (Trish), Adrian; and great grandson Lyric. He is also survived by his sister Anje Buma, brother Gerard Kuntz, and numerous relatives in Canada and the Netherlands.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Canadian Food Grain Bank