On October 16, 1950, a daughter was born to Seminarian Jay and Necia Wesseling. The infant named Laurie, was the second of five daughters and a son to bless the Wesseling home. Christian nurture received from godly parents, the influence of Biblical preaching and training received in Christian schools in Wellsburg, Iowa, Sully, Iowa, Jenison, Michigan and Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, Michigan, bore rich fruit as Laurie made her public profession of faith at fifteen years of age. Following three years at Calvin College, Laurie married David Van Beek in 1971. Their home was blessed with the birth of four sons: Dan (17), Mike (12), Steve (11) and Matt (8).
Laurie was described by her pastor as a “doer.” When there was a job to be done, she didn’t talk about it; she did it. Her actions were rooted in the conviction that life is to be service to the Lord in response to the great blessing of salvation. Several years ago when the position of office manager of the Committee of Concerned Members of the Christian Reformed Church in North America opened, Laurie applied and was hired. She took up her new responsibilities with enthusiasm for this was not simply a job but a kingdom calling in which she had yet another opportunity to serve her Savior and Lord. When I sometimes expressed concern that a particular assignment would be a lot of work she would reply, “My boys can help.” I suspect that statement included Dave as well as her four sons. She was delighted that her whole family could be involved in service to the Lord and His kingdom.
Early in 1991 Laurie learned that she had cancer. The next two years were marked by surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments as well as increasing pain and physical limitations. But Laurie kept serving. When concern was expressed that she was trying to do too much, Laurie replied by saying that she was concerned that she wasn’t doing enough.
Early in the month of March 1993, it became apparent that Laurie’s service was soon to be transferred to the church triumphant. Just forty-eight hours before her death, Laurie completed arrangements with her pastor for the funeral service. Laurie asked her pastor to use Philippians 1:21 for the funeral message. She said “funerals are for the living” and she wanted to make sure that the gospel would be proclaimed at her funeral. Little could she imagine that hundreds of relatives and friends would fill the auditorium of the Cornerstone Church in Hudsonville for the funeral service, to acknowledge with gratitude to God the grace and faith that had been demonstrated as Laurie had lived her life in the service of the Lord and as she faced death in the firm confidence that she was not her own but belonged to her faithful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hearts were touched as Laurie’s pastor beautifully and pastorally unfolded the truth of the gospel, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
Laurie Van Beek’s earthly pilgrimage ended on March 12, 1993, as she quietly left this life to enter into the presence of the Lord. We commend her loved ones to the comforting and sustaining grace of God. Her service within her home, the family circle and the church is finished, but of her it can be said, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them’” (Rev. 14:13).
Rev. Besteman is the pastor of the Beverly CRC (Independent) and a close friend of the Wesselings and Van Beeks.