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From Giving to Going
Featuring Harvey Kiekover
From Alumni Corner in the Winter 2012 Mission News
by Jim Triezenberg
The Kiekover family in the 1970s
As a boy, Harvey Kiekover put pennies in the Sunday school "Johanna Veenstra Mission Box" at Drenthe CRC in Michigan. "That got Nigeria into my mind," he said, "that far-off, exotic place!"
Although he never thought he'd become a missionary, Harvey was hit by what one of his Calvin Seminary professors said: "We can get teachers, builders, house parents, doctors and nurses to go to Nigeria, but we can't get pastors."
Harvey wondered, should he and Thelma, his wife, go to Nigeria? The young couple prayed about what to do. After they graduated, Thelma from Reformed Bible College in Grand Rapids and Harvey from seminary, they received calls from five churches. One of those calls was an appointment from their home church to Nigeria.
The Kiekovers headed to Nigeria in 1965, spending a year in Lupwe, Nigeria to learn the language. Then they moved to Makurdi to do urban evangelism. They had just begun their work in Makurdi when a civil war broke out, forcing them to make new plans. At the insistence of the U.S. Embassy, Thelma and their fifteen-month-old son mike left for Takum, Nigeria, a safer area. Harvey continued serving in Makurdi until he too was ordered to leave. Because missionaries were not allowed back into the country during the war, Harvey filled in for a teacher at the Veenstra Junior Seminary in Lupwe. This work fit well with Harvey's love for teaching, so the Kiekover's happily finished their first term there.
In 1969 Harvey was assigned to teach at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN) in Bukuru. While it was hard for the Kiekovers to leave Lupwe, they soon felt at home at TCNN. Thelma taught several classes for women, while Harvey led several classes for men.
Harvey Kiekover today
Their almost 12 years at TCNN was a blessed time for them. Harvey found it an especially broadening and helpful after his time in small communities. today, he finds it rewarding to see how many of his former students are church leaders in Nigeria and in neighboring African countries.
In 1981, Harvey became the Nigeria field leader, a position he held until their return to the the United States in 1984 for health reasons. Harvey taught at the Reformed Bible College for a semester and took Clinical Pastoral Education at Pine Rest. A year later, the Kiekovers accepted a call to Calvin CRC in Grand Rapids and served there for nine years. Later, Harvey became a chaplain at Holland Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he continues working on a part-time basis.
Reflecting back on his experience, Harvey comments, "I am grateful for the privilege of having served in Nigeria and grateful to those who made it possible -- God, World Missions, supporting churches, praying friends, and for pennies in mission boxes!"
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A Lifetime in Missions featuring the Oostendorps
From a One-Year Internship to a Lifetime Calling featuring the Van Tols
Following God's Call to Japan featuring the Sytsmas
Mission with Wings featuring the Browneyes