Hendrik L. Heijkoop

1906-1995

Edwin N. Cross

Brother Hendrik Heijkoop was taken home to be with the Lord on Thursday 31st August. His body was buried on Wednesday, 6th. September in Winschoten, Holland. He was born in the Netherlands in 1906, the tenth child of a Godfearing family. In his teens he found peace with God after long and deep exercise. He early desired to serve the Lord full time in preaching and teaching the Word of God. The study of the Word was from then on his principle occupation and delight. He had a keen sense of what it was to be a steward of the wonderful truths relating to the assembly of God.

He became a successful accountant but used his free time to minister the Word of God among believers in the Netherlands and Germany. It was then the Lord used him for the eternal blessing of many, including my grandmother. My atheistic grandfather was also converted under his preaching and my mother and aunt likewise came to trust the Saviour through his ministry. My mother was baptised by him in a baker's dough trough. He told me once that at that time the Lord worked wonderfully for the conversion of very many in the North of Holland. Among my memories of him is his delight when a simple brother with an upright heart gave thanks to the Lord at the Supper. If he was present at a meeting he didn't take the lead but always waited on the Lord. Brethren expected him always to speak because of his gift but if the Lord had not given him a word he would say so and remain silent. I always found his contribution at the Winschoten conference rich and full of Christ and the prospect of the Saviour's near return. He was sometimes hard to translate but never short of spiritual and moral power in what he said. Hearers (and translators) could be easily moved to tears when he was setting before us the riches of God's grace and mercy.

Before and during the 1939-45 war years he exhorted the German brethren to retain their separation from German political life and to have no part in the persecution of Jews. His caring for a Jewish client during the early war years brought him into conflict with the Nazis. For this he was sent to one of the notorious concentration camps. He was in the Vught labour camp, near Eindhoven. Within days brother Heijkoop became gravely ill with a stomach complaint. He needed all his strength in such a place and cried to the Lord for help. He could not understand why he was suffering so much. His health gradually came back and he was put to work. The Lord granted him favour in the eyes of his captors and he became responsible for the production of Phillips electrical products (whose factory had been made the centre for slave labour). After some 18 months he came to the attention of an officer who recalled that he could not be found shortly after he had been incarcerated. Their plan had been that Heijkoop was to be liquidated (perhaps in Auschwitz, Poland). Again the Lord intervened and because of a strong appeal from Mr Phillips this death sentence was not carried out. Following this, one of Mr Heijkoop's clients from before the war asked his daughter's boyfriend, a young German officer, to try to secure the release of his accountant Mr Heijkoop. The young officer foolishly forged his senior officer's signature and secured the release of our brother. The young man paid for this with his life but the situation in German occupied Holland was such that brother Heijkoop was not rearrested.

It was in his first days of freedom, when he had nothing but the clothes he stood up in, that he distinctly heard the Lord indicate to him that now was the time to go forth in faith into the work. In due time the Lord provided not only for our brother, that he might be financially independent, but also that a vast literature work could be undertaken with wide ranging effect and blessing to many. The Lord gave him many opportunities to minister outside Holland, in North America (especially Canada), Spain, Switzerland and Germany. He also visited Britain in the 1950's. He relied much on the Spirit's guidance and would go about as directed by the Lord serving an itinerant ministry for the nourishment of Christ's own. He will be principally remembered for his service among the brethren as a teacher of the Word of God.

On one occasion he told me that sometimes German brethren would come to him and apologise for the treatment he had received at the hands of the Nazis. His reply would be that they had nothing to apologise for. If they walked in the path of strangership, separated from the world and its politics, then there had not been a participation in the wickedness of the government of the day. But if any had supported the Hitlerite regime in any way they were certainly responsible and should confess it to the Lord at once. This to me was a clear illustration of why a good soldier of Jesus Christ should not get entangled with the affairs of this life. To participate in politics in any way brings responsibility of participation in another's sins.

He edited a Dutch periodical, 'Uit Het Woord der Waarheid' (Out of the Word of Truth) for over forty years and was the author of a number of books, perhaps the most well known title being "Beginning with Christ" (in other languages titled "Letters to Young Believers"). These books have been printed in up to 458,000 copies each and have been published or translated into Albanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi Maiayalam, Norwegian, Punjabi, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian (9,000 circulated in the USSR before Glasnost), Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Telegu etc. He laboured to promote the broadest possible dissemination of Bibles (especially the excellent Translation by Mr Darby) and sound expository literature everywhere. When sectarians forbade the sale of their edition of Darby's collected writings to all but their own coterie, Mr Heijkoop arranged to have sufficient printed for all who might desire a set at a modest price. At one time very few in Europe possessed a set but by the early 1980's most who were active in assembly life had one, as well as a copy of the Bible Treasury edited by William Kelly. The Eastern (then chiefly communist countries) and third world mission lands were so upon his heart that thousands upon thousands of books were poured in to them. He rejoiced to see the gospel of God's grace spread far and wide. Today very many are walking according to the truths which his books expound from Scripture. Alas, in some quarters some are turning aside from the truth. I recall how he had said to me that where the light had shone the brightest we now see the greatest departure and darkness. He was referring to Britain then but alas these words could now be applied to the Netherlands too.

The last few years of his life were troubled with extremely poor health and his memory finally failed. He lived with his wife in the old peoples home run by brethren in Bonn, Germany. They had no children. His departure from this scene is accompanied by thanksgiving to the Lord for raising up such a gift and for releasing him from his worn and weak frame to be in Paradise.

This is the briefest biographical sketch which shows only a little of what the Lord has given in this servant. May we be granted grace to follow the Lord in faithful obedience until His return for us all on the clouds. "Remember your leaders who have spoken to you the word of God; and considering the issue of their conversation, imitate their faith" (Hebrews 13: 7). E.N.C.