Pastor Kevin DeRaaf has been appointed as the new Regional Mission Leader for eastern Canada for the New Mission Agency.

In accepting the role, which officially begins on May 1, he will fill the final vacant position for regional leaders in  North America for the Christian Reformed Church’s new mission agency.

In his role, DeRaaf will lead the region with his wealth of experience in classis leadership and church renewal along with his 24 years of combined experience as a lead pastor in Ontario. He says one of his early goals in this new position will be to assist ministry leaders with navigating the challenges in getting church plants and other ministries off the ground.

“I want to have made a meaningful connection with each of the current leaders and various leadership teams within the region, to visit each of the classes in my region to introduce myself and lay out the vision for the NMA (New Mission Agency), connecting with local leaders where possible,” DeRaaf says.

Still, his excitement for this new position comes after some reservations about applying. DeRaaf says he loves serving in his current role at Faith Church in Burlington. Ont. He also knows that his role comes with the burden of following Adrian Van Giesen, who had been serving as the regional leader for Christian Reformed Home Mission until he passed away in November.

“I was close to Adrian,” said DeRaaf. “Before he passed away, we often talked about his work and he encouraged me to consider the role.

Introducing three other new Regional Mission Leaders

The Eastern Canada region that DeRaaf will lead includes Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Maritimes.  Home Missions appointed three other regional leaders at the end of 2016—Marco Avila, Rich Braaksma, and Ben Kaat.

  • Marco Avila- Avila is the new leader for the Eastern U.S. region, serving classes and congregations from Maine to Florida with the Regional Mission Team. He lives in Paterson, N.J., where he planted New Horizon church, now a thriving church that is looking forward to buying its own property. Prior to his ministry in the CRCNA, Avila taught K-12 in Honduras. Currently, he serves as a co-leader for the CRC/RCA Reformed Leadership Initiative in his region. He also provides regional leadership for Consejo Latino, through which he has linked local Hispanic congregations with a two-year program at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, resulting in the enrollment of 24 new students. Connect with Avila at mavila@crcna.org.
  • Rich Braaksma- Braaksma and his regional mission team will serve the western Canada region, which includes Alberta and British Columbia. Braaksma is currently a pastor at New Hope Hillside church, in Calgary, Ala., where he led the congregation through a process of reforming their vision to focus on mission and merged two church plants into one congregation. Previously, Braaksma served as a “Twentysomethings” pastor at New Life Church in Abbotsford, B.C. He also planted a church and developed The Talking Stick, a community coffeehouse in the artsy, diverse community of Venice and Santa Monica, Calif. Braaksma will continue to serve alongside the pastoral leadership at New Hope Hillside, offering a congregational context that informs his work in this new role. Connect with Braaksma at rbraaksma@crcna.org.
  • Ben Katt- As the leader for the western U.S. region, Katt and his team will serve classes and congregations from California to Washington and Colorado to Texas. Katt planted and pastored Awake Church in Seattle, Wash., a new church that continues to focus on intentionally finding ways to follow Jesus into their neighborhood on Aurora Avenue. The needs in the neighborhood inspired Katt and his church to launch Aurora Commons, a neighborhood living room and resource center, where he served as executive director until recently. Katt’s desire to see more churches learn to incarnationally love their neighbors led him to co-found the Parish Collective and the Inhabit Conference. Today, Katt shares what he has learned about developing these missional practices with leaders and churches through his RePlacing Church podcast and coaching relationships. Connect with Katt at bkatt@crcna.org.

These leaders will join Peter Kelder (Midwest Region), Amy Schenkel (Great Lakes Region), and eight international Regional Mission Leaders. Please continue to pray for them in this transition and for the new mission agency as it continues to develop.