Anko Scholtens: Lay Leader of Reformational Movement (1)

Many of you know (and some of you are amused!) that my full name is Anko William DeJong. Anko is an unusual name my Dutch immigrant parents gave me in honor of my uncle Anko who in turn had been named after his father's uncle Anko. The original uncle Anko (Scholtens) was a remarkable man and my recent foray into Dutch Reformed theological literature has uncovered his legacy at several places.

From what I can gather Anko Scholtens’ career began as a math teacher (whose genes I evidently did not inherit) and ended as the principal of a Teacher’s College. During the second world war he was arrested (possibly for affiliations with underground resistance) and shipped off to a concentration camp in Germany where he would donate his blankets to Jews who had none. The Germans were infuriated by his mercy and in the cold of winter they stripped him naked and put on water hose on him till he died. The year was 1943.

There are many accounts of his piety and tenderheartedness as a father and a teacher. But he was also theologically astute. As an elder in his church he influenced many, including his own pastors. This became apparent to me this past December when I read My Path to Liberation (Neerlandia: Inheritance, 2005), the memoirs of the late Douwe Van Dijk, a powerful Dutch Reformed minister who for many years pastored the largest Reformed congregation in the city of Groningen, the Netherlands. These memoirs were translated from the Dutch by my friend and former philosophy professor Dr. Theodore Plantinga.

Van Dijk records his own theological and spiritual pilgrimage as a pastor and at one point writes (p.212), "It took me a long time to understand these things, which is why I believe some of the points I am making here bear repeating. The man who helped me especially in gaining insight regarding these matters was brother Anko Scholtens, one of our elders, who later died while he was a prisoner of the Nazis. Brother Scholtens was a means in God’s hand to open my eyes to the great truth that our certainty is to be sought only in God’s promise. I thank God repeatedly for all that He has given me through my contact with this brother."

Next time I’ll say more about his life and legacy.

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