Share a memory of Derek.

Most can agree, Derek is not easily forgotten. With a larger than life…everything, he filled the room with infectious personality, a warm smile and hugs to go around. We invite you to share your reflections with everyone that cared for him.


  1. Erica Barnett

    I am a good friend of Hillary’s, and had the privilege to meet Derrick a few times when I was invited to stay at the families’ home in Michigan on college breaks. The memory I have is right after Charity and Derek got engaged. Charity was so excited, planning her wedding and talking with Hillary about bridesmaids dresses, trying so hard to make a good decisions. The memory is of Derek, and how much he cared for Charity, that he was 100% interested in helping, defending, and protecting her feelings. My thought was, “What a lucky girl!”

    Another memory was something Linda said, that has come to mind year after year. She was talking about how much energy Derek had as a boy, and how when he came home from school she could hardly contain him so she “put him to work”. She said something along the lines of, “I just had to put him to work! Find jobs for him to do outside, so he could release some of this energy of his.” I have two boys now, and the oldest has that same boundless energy! I hear Linda’s words when am watching my son. I now look at him with different eyes, and thank God for every day I have with him . . . and I pray for Linda. Who knew that God would bring something so inconsequential like that comment that would remind me to pray for someone I met a total of three times? God knew. I’m so glad to have a Father that cares for us down to the smallest detail.

  2. Danae Sommers

    One of my all-time favorite (funny) memories of Derek happened on our mission trip to N.Y. in June of 2009. It’s really a lot better shared in person, but I’ll do my best:

    Every night before bed we would split up into our serve groups and debrief on the highs and lows of the day as well as prayer requests. One night my co-leader Kyle and I got assigned to have our group meet in the church sanctuary, which was positioned opposite the “cafeteria” behind some large oak doors. Derek’s group happened to be the one meeting that night on the other side of those doors.

    After about 45 minutes my group was done with our debrief, and we were all very ready to hit the hay…but the only problem was, there was no way out of that room other than through those wooden doors into the cafeteria. I decided I’d be the one to check to see if Derek’s group had finished up too, so I turned the hugely heavy door knob and creaked the door open just a smidge to look in. There they were, still in their circle of chairs having what seemed like a very serious conversation. Derek didn’t even have to say anything, the look in his eyes was loud and clear “GET RIGHT BACK IN THERE, GIRL. SKEEDADDLE!!”

    I closed the door as fast as I could without making even more noise, and everyone in my group started giggling at my face. It didn’t take hardly a word from me for them to know it would be awhile before we could leave that sanctuary.

    Minutes started ticking by, and out of nowhere came our second wind. Before you know it we’re playing that good ol’ “little sally walker” dancing game where everyone gets in a circle and mimics each other’s dances while singing in unison. At first we tried to whisper, but the laughter became infectious and our voices got louder and louder…and just as someone started breaking into the sprinkler move (or something of the sort)


    Giant wood doors go flinging open and in comes Derek, his huge wingspan fully extended with FIRE in his eyes. “WITTLE SAWWY WALKER WALKING DOWN THE STREET!!!!!” he sang in mock tone at full-vocal capacity, stomping across the old creaky floor.

    absolute silence filled the room as he slapped his thighs with his hands, the fire still smoldered in his eyes–tears of sheer terror now welling up in ours…

    …and then…

    Derek just started belly laughing. “Oh man, I got you guys good. You were so scared.”

    Needless to say, none of us thought it was very funny in the moment. Cracks me up every time now though.


    On a more serious note,

    One of my other favorite Derek memories is when we met up before my baptism to talk through my testimony. As I sat there on the couch in his office overlooking the river, he just listened and nodded his head as I talked.

    Growing up in a home with godly, loving parents I had come to know the Lord at a very early age. Almost clear up until my baptism I had been a bit insecure in the “typical” or “non-dramatic” nature of my testimony and I mentioned that fact to Derek as we sat there. I will never forget what he said after I poured out my heart. “Girl, I don’t think you know how incredibly powerful your testimony is. It’s POWERFUL!” After talking for a few more minutes, I left that day with a renewed excitement and joy for all the Lord has done in my life. Derek helped me pinpoint some of the incredible ways my Savior has worked in my life and evidenced His power through my story–and that is something I will hold on to forever.

    As a leader in Highway 9/12, I got to witness Derek’s incredible desire for the One, True God–and his drive to live a life without compromise. I remember the many nights in Sikma’s guest room, all of us leaders and Derek on our knees in prayer before the students arrived. I’ll never forget those times when he would lead us in that kind of humility and submission to the Lord. Even after the students arrived, as he sat speaking in that leather chair–all of us surrounding him–it wasn’t seldom that he would start out by apologizing for something he had done the week before, or even that same night. If something was on his heart, he would stop mid-sentence to share it–not wanting it to distract him or discredit his teaching. He was a man of incredible integrity, and he lovingly stepped in to so many of our lives with the aim to hold us to that same Biblical standard.

    I always loved watching him around Charity, because it was so incredibly clear: his love and cherishing for her. Countless times he would ask us for prayer that he would grow in his tenderness and his service for her. He desired so deeply to love her with his whole heart; to not let himself get in the way of giving himself up for her as Christ did for us. And not only that, but it was 100% clear that Char was the only woman he would ever love like that. His commitment to her was always such an encouragement to me (and still is!); and his enjoyment and delight for her a true blessing to witness.

    As I think of Derek on his birthday, I think of his heart for the Lord and I think of him on his knees–face to the carpet and desperation in his voice. I think of the countless times I saw pain in his eyes over his own sin, over his own failures. He had a passion not only for praising God and glorifying Him, but he also desired to become like Christ–to be sanctified and molded more and more into the image of His Maker. He was the first to admit that that fire in his eyes for the Lord did not come from his own strength or ability, but from the blessed gift of the Holy Spirit working in him. “Search me, O God, and know my heart” — Derek lived those words. He hated his own sin, and desired for it to be drawn out of him daily. He was far from perfect, but instead of hiding from his sin or denying it, he longed for the Lord to show it to him so he could repent. Though he struggled against the thorn in his flesh, he still ran the race right through the pangs of his own weakness in the strength only Jesus could supply him. Though he tripped up many times, he got up many times and he did not shrink back in fear–no, he grabbed hold of the promise of the living hope of Christ’s resurrection. With tears he would shout with joy about the grace Jesus showed him on the cross, for he knew how desperately he needed the covering of His blood. As surely as any man could this side of heaven, I truly believe he loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind. And if he felt something was keeping him from loving Him like he should, he would wrestle with it–many times getting rid of it if he could, even if it really cost him.

    I think of Derek tonight, and I still think of that man on his knees with his face to the ground–only now instead of desperation, there is triumph in his voice; instead of pain, there is rejoicing in his eyes. Now he is living the life he always wanted to live–eternally praising His Savior and His King.

    Thank You Jesus, for profoundly blessing my life with Derek’s. Thank You for the way he pointed me even more towards You, and towards my true home that You’re preparing for me–my forever home with You, my Savior and my King.

    “We love ya girl!” That’s what Derek always told me, and I can still hear him saying it clear as day. But now it’s my turn to say it back.

    We love you Derek, Happy Birthday brother! I can’t wait for another one of Your huge high-fives one day :-)

  3. Annie Ostrander


    I am going to share with you a little about how Derek impacted my life. Back when the video was being made and people were sharing their memories about Derek, I was wanting to share this with you then when I was being interviewed, but I broke down and could barely get the next word out. I would like to share this with you now:

    One of my fondest memories of Derek was during the Belong Winter Retreat of 2011. Saturday evening of the retreat was amazing…I hardly have words to describe what a wonderful time of worship we much we felt God’s presence. Derek had delivered a sermon on 1 John on children of God and children of the devil. He briefly spoke about bitterness, and when he did God pricked my heart. I knew of the bitterness that I kept swept under the carpet of my own heart. It had been there for years–bitterness toward one person in my life:my stepdad–and I was always ready with some excuse to justify that black bitterness. And sometimes I just ignored it. Pretended it was not there. But God pricked my heart and I was listening. I knew I had to deal with the bitterness that night once and for all. No going back. No more excuses. No more weak justifications, because really–in light of the cross there is no way to justify any sin. That Saturday night I surrendered my bitterness and committed to repentance. I was worried, though, because I did not want this to pass away and be merely a “spiritual high” after the retreat. But the Lord continued His work in my heart and was faithful to strengthen me to rid myself of every inch of that bitterness. God opened my eyes to view my step-dad through His eyes–with love. The person that I once could not look directly in the eye, I am happy to say now that I can look in the eyes and smile sincerely. (Here come the tears as I recount this). I hold no more bitterness to my step-dad (he never even wronged me, I was only projecting my bitterness about my parents’ divorce on him, poor fellow). Our relationship is restored through Christ and my step-dad has graciously and amazingly forgiven me. With God’s help I was able to stick to the commitment to surrender that bitterness and as months carried on with the progress of this restored relationship, I was meaning to write Derek a thank-you letter to tell him just how God worked through his sermon that night and how it impacted my life. I was meaning to make time to tell him, but I waited too long. I waited too long, and that regret haunts me now.

    Another special memory I have of Derek is from a college group night at the BSHOP. Will Weatherhead was leading worship. I was standing in the back singing and praising God, and then I heard a voice I recognized behind me. It was Derek’s voice–he was singing and praising God. I remember that right then I closed my eyes tight, smiled, and thanked God for that moment–being led in worship by two of my big brothers in Christ that I highly admire and look up to. Will in the front, and Derek right behind me. I felt surrounded by God’s presence through their worship, if that makes sense. I cherished that moment then as a blessing from God, and I cherish it now in my memory with tears.

    Derek was such a huge encouragement to me and I always looked forward to his sermons because he spoke the truth to us in love with boldness. Love God. Hate sin. Love people. I admired Derek very much and I am so blessed to have known him. He truly impacted my life just as he lived out the gospel.

    And now a Dylan memory: I only babysat Dylan once, but I still remember that night. Ella and Jojo were asleep and Dylan slept for a little while after you two left. Not for long, though. He woke so I held him in my arms and tried to comfort him and help him get back to sleep. Well, he was just not falling asleep. I held him in my arms for over an hour, looking into his eyes and singing little lullabies. Eventually he fell back to sleep. I was tired then, but I am so thankful for that time of holding Dylan in my arms.That was a gift from God. If Dylan had not woken up, I never would have had that special time to hold him.

    I am blessed to know you, Charity, and your beautiful girls. I admire you in so many ways. I see the way the Lord uplifts you, and how you continuously praise Him through your grief. You and your family are in my prayers often.

    With love in Christ,
    Annie Ostrander

  4. Matt Roe

    First of all, I don’t even feel that these few words can start to convey even one iota of Derek’s life. All the collective stories that have been told over the past 8 months just start to scratch the surface and give you a glimpse into a guy going hard after life. Derek was like no other… passionate and intense about his lovely wife, wonderful kids, his family, his ministry, and most of all his Savior. He cared deeply about people and his heart ached for people to know the Lord. He had that energy and zest for life that couldn’t help but draw you in. Most importantly, Derek was transformed from a (dare I say) cocky, lovable, punk kid to a passionate follower of Christ who wanted to share his good news with the world. That is what made Derek so special and what I admired most about him.
    Today we celebrate his 35th year, missing him deeply, and looking forward to our eventual reunion with Derek and Dylan. We love you brother!

  5. jill van soelen

    you never really know which memories to share when talking about this man but here’s what i keep thinking about today. derek quickly became another older brother in my life, protecting me and watching over me. he always told me that whenever i met the man i would marry, that man would have to go through derek first. derek meant it, and i took him seriously. i was so excited the first time bry met derek and char, and was so thankful for a the example set before us. derek approved and i knew i was in the clear.

    the second to last time i saw derek, he told me that whatever bry and i chose to do (in deciding whether or not to get engaged), he and charity would support me 100% and they were so excited for me and pleased with the man i had chosen. the last time i saw derek was when i got to go tell him i was engaged. he was busy, as usual, and running around as charity talked through the details. he was ready for me to call bry over and order in dinner to celebrate. bry and i had plans that night, so we said we would go out some time soon to celebrate.

    derek, i cant wait to celebrate with you. im jealous of where you are, im so sad i didnt get to have you at our wedding (i actually wanted you to mc :) ), but mostly i just miss you. a whole lot. and i cant wait to see you.

  6. My favorite memory was when we were at youth group and all the girls asked about how he and Charity met. Once he got talking, he couldn’t stop talking nor could he stop smiling! I know that I am speaking for most, if not all of the girls in the youth group, saying that we all decided we wanted to marry a man that loved us like Derek loved Charity.

  7. When he took my spin class he always came and left with a smile and was always giving it his BEST!!!!!

  8. I remember the first time I saw Derek as a Dad. I only had college boy or married to Charity memories of him up to this point since I knew him all through college and he married my best friend (and I had moved to Arizona several years after college)! My hubby and I met Derek and Char in Palm Springs just for a quick night of catching up and they had Ella and Jo Jo with them. He was a Daddy of girls, for sure. He was the Daddy that would be dressed up in princess tiaras and flowers. He would do whatever it took to make his girls happy and laughing at him. I loved seeing that in him. From a teenage boy that I didn’t think was good enough (way early in college!) for my best friend, to this awesome man that loved his family only second to God. So sweet. Derek, I miss you!

  9. Emma Modzeleski

    The last time I saw Derek in person was when I was babysitting all three of the kids. Before leaving, he bent all the way down to Dylan’s swing, making their faces about six inches away from each other. He said, “Now remember, Dylan, while I’m gone you’re the man of the house. You make the rules. You call the shots. You know what’s up.” Towards the end of the day, as I was trying to console crying baby Dylan to put him down for a nap, Derek walked into the bedroom. His face lit up at the sight of his son. He gently took Dylan into his huge hands and started rocking him to sleep. I felt privileged to be able to witness such a precious moment between father and son.

  10. I always remember how much Derek always stood out in the crowd. He was always smiling, always nice to everyone… and I think I even remember him in the dunk tank one Homecoming weekend. I remember we were once in a picture with some other Taylor athletes, and he kept joking about how I would probably be really good at bocce ball– I had no idea what that game was at the time, but it was his standing joke with me from then on. Now I think of him whenever we play that in the summer.
    Then I remember when he and Charity were dating our senior year, and HE COULD MOVE. So he’s in the house bustin’ a move (and I do believe it was the water sprinkler), and then Charity started in, too. SO funny. He thought it was great! You could tell then how much he loved you, Charity. I think he even said, (with a huge smile) “Isn’t she awesome?” Not anything I thought of then, but a memory that stays with me now. Probably one of my favorite memories is how everyone cleared the dance floor for him during “Brick House” at a wedding in Peoria. Hilarious.

  11. Derek was nice enough to pay to let me go to camp harvest in 2009

  12. James

    I miss you so much. It kills me to be serving these kids without you there. I miss the way you brought the gospel to those high schoolers. I miss the way you led the leaders of the ministry…the way that you served us. My heart aches in those moments when I can just imagine you walking into the room, setting the tone for the night.
    We had our senior banquet last week…
    Honestly Derek, I just wish I could have one more conversation with you. Just one more chance to dig into the Word with you.
    Derek…I miss you man.
    Your memory is embedded in my life.

  13. Katie

    >Whenever I think of Derek rather than a specific memory, I think of a place: the prayer room of the BSHOP.
    So many Wednesday nights @ 7 I would enter the BSHOP, receive cheerful hello and a high five from Derek, and then make my way downstairs to the prayer room. In that small space our team would gather—to catch up with each other, touch base on ministry stuff, hear a brief overview on what Derek was planning to share, and then pray. Derek loved being kneeled down, face to the ground crying out to our heavenly father. And as a team, that was the position we took every Wednesday before our gatherings as we prayed for the night. It was truly an honor and privilege to serve with Derek on The Intersection leadership team from the very beginning. It has, without a doubt, been a life changing experience—thanks to be God for the countless ways that He used Derek to challenge, inspire, and encourage me.
    [katie bury]

  14. Anonymous

    >I remember hearing a story that still makes me chuckle. Doug was taking Derek out to drive in the winter to a parking lot, you know practice spinning out donuts, like my dad did with me. Well there was only 1 car in this parking lot and Doug was showing Derek how it should be done. Well you can imagine what happened, Doug hit the 1 car in the parking lot. I can only imaging the laughter after that day of course that the two of them had about that incident.
    Shawn Tol

  15. Jesse (Quaid) Thacker

    >one of my favorite memories of Derek is at Winterfest. he taught our whole team old-school dance moves (i.e. the shopping cart, lawn mower, etc) and we ended up having to perform in front of everyone later that night on stage. he was great – very into it, VERY dramatic… he thought it was great. he was in it with us and it was just RIDICULOUS and so fun! he loved to have fun.

  16. Mark and Karen Kuiper

    >"We thank our God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom we serve with our whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is our witness how constantly we remember you in our prayers at all times." Romans 1:8-10a

  17. >Lots of memories!!! Scott & I smile when we think about how excited Derek was when David Crowder came to Mars Hill. He was there so early, making sure he was in the front row. and then I remember seeing his arms lifted up, praising God from the front row.
    I loved his passion!!!
    I also have to agree with Dani…lots of good hunter house memories. maybe we'll have to hash through some of those memories when all of us girls are together! ;)
    I am praying for you several times a day! I also want to encourage you that Derek's passion for Christ is spreading faster than ever! I have talked to several friends that have found themselves with a renewed passion for knowing God in a more personal way. I want to thank both you & Derek for having a love for the Lord that is contagious.
    I love you Char & I'm here to support you.

  18. >We lived across the street on Mayfield, and my daughter Shelby, then 3, had a h-u-g-e crush on Derek for the two-ish years between you moving in and us moving away. He would come jogging up the street, finishing a run (wearing The Headband!!), and she would see him and yell out, "Hiiiiiii, Derek!" He was so sweet with her. He would fold himself down on one knee, right down on her level, and look her in the eye, and talk With her – not just To her. She couldn't get enough of him.

    He was so proud and excited when you were expecting Ella, and when she was born. That big wide smile… such a proud papa, and you can see it in every picture of him with each/all of you. Every single shot is a treasure – so glad you have so many family photos of all 5 of you.

    You are in my prayers every single day, sometimes all day. Praise to the Son who sacrificed ALL so that we, as fallen as we are, can rejoice in eternity with God our beautiful Father!

    With love and prayers for comfort,
    Angela Johnson

  19. jessica

    >Some friends and I were going through a rough time and met with him to get help in what to do. After talking about what was going on and going through verses that came to be very helpful, he asked if it was ok if we literally got on our knees and prayed together, and we did. His passion and genuine concern was overflowing. He was nothing but real with us.

    God gave us so much encouragement through him and even though I was never as close with him as most people he always would great me with that huge smile and even bigger hi-five. I finally made it to youth group for the first time last week and I am sooo glad I did. His messages were always so powerful and his last one was no exception. The one that has stuck with me the most was his one on Pride, and remembering how many times he would say that he also struggled with pride more than anyone.

    He never claimed perfection in fact he did the opposite. I am so excited to see you again in Heaven Derek! I will never forget how much of an encouragement you were and I thank God everyday for the short time I had with you and I thank him even more that you are with him now!

  20. Anonymous

    >Charity, through the storm, through the rain and through the hurt and pain don't give up or give in just stand.

  21. Beth Hicks

    >During the summer before my freshman year of high school, the youth group went to South Haven for a beach day. This was one of my first events with the youth group and one of my first chances to spend time with Derek. A few other freshman and I rode in Derek's van. As soon as we started pulling out of the parking lot, Derek started talking to us about something, and he got so passionate about us that he turned around to look at all of us in the backseat while he was driving. As he turned out of the parking lot and onto the road, he was so focused on whatever he was telling us that he pulled into the left lane! One of the other people in the car had to ask him why he was in the left lane before he moved. Derek's passion and humor as displayed through this event made me excited to spend the net 4 years in his youth group, and what a blessing those 4 years were!
    Beth Hicks

  22. Wade Vugteveen

    >Whenever we would hang out with Derek and Charity I would look forward to a nice relaxing night where we could spend some time talking and maybe watching a game on TV. Instead I would always end up watching Derek chase his girls and mine around the house all night. He would pretend the end of his hand was "the claw" and the girls would run around screaming trying to avoid it only to be tickled intensly when "the claw" finally caught one of them. Everytime that we got in the car to leave I would say to my wife "it would have been nice to hang out with Derek a little more but he just played with the kids all night." He was passionate about his children and most other children he met as well. Looking back it is like he knew he only had a limited time with his kids so he wanted to make the most out of every second he had.
    Wade Vugteveen

  23. >My memories of Derek start with Charity.

    Charity and I were colleagues at Priority Health when they moved to Grand Rapids. She was instantly endearing, capable, and intelligent coworker. When she talked about Derek, there was a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. When I met him, I understood why. What a guy!

    I witnessed their excitement in starting their gorgeous family. Each time Charity announced she was pregnant, she beamed. Balancing work and family is a struggle and they worked hard to make sure their babies were loved and cared for in the best possible way. They made sacrifices to ensure Ella, JoJo and Dylan had lots of time with each of them.

    My family had the pleasure of getting to know Derek better when he coached Ella and my daughter's soccer team. Watching that tall man running around with those 4 year old girls, was a sight. He had enthusiasm, joy and lots of high fives! It was a perfect first sports team experience for my daughter and it was because of Derek.

    When Dylan was born, my family was so excited because we had watched Charity grow each week during soccer season. When we came to visit, Derek took his girls and my two kids outside to "shoot hoops" while Charity and I talked and snuggled Dylan. What a thoughtful man. Most husbands would not think of doing this! When we left I remember vividly, Derek not just saying "thanks for coming", but really looking into my eyes and telling me how "kind" it was for us to come. He was so genuine and it made an impression on me.

    I never heard Derek give a sermon, however, he was teaching me through the way he lived. He was teaching me by the example he set as a husband, father, friend and coach. Derek and Charity were teaching me how important all the little things you do everyday, all the love and respect you show those around you in all the little ways are what makes an extraordinary life. Thank you, Derek.

  24. Johnson Family

    >I remember his handshake (I am merely an average sized man, after all) that began our short conversations before or after church or at HS group at Harvest.

    Also, every time I think of him, I remember a blocked shot from his days at TU that ended up several rows deep – even though the stands were only on the side of the court, not behind the glass. It got kind of loud after that.

    -kris johnson

  25. Heather

    >The main thing that comes to mind when I think of Derek is his larger than life personality! You couldn't help but feel his presence when you were in the room with him. When I look at his picture I can't help but smile, yet I have tears in my eyes too. Though it has been many years since our days at Taylor University, I will always remember how Derek brought fun to every group of friends he hung out with.
    Heather Delp

  26. Anonymous

    >I am a nanny and on two specific occasions I remember him getting down to my level, pointing his finger at me and gently, but intentionally telling me, "YOU are investing in eternity with those boys!"
    It certainly changed my perspective :) And is a great memory of him to have!
    -Heather McGannon

  27. Anonymous

    >I was a few years behind Derek in HS at FHN. We had many friends in common and he really helped me see on a New Year's Eve long ago that just because you've made mistakes doesn't mean you have to keep repeating them. He was a great guy with a huge personailty that touched me and so many people. He helped me be the me I wanted to be – - – he helped so many be better Christians!


  28. >If anyone were to ask what image springs to mind when I think of Derek Taatjes, it’s easy: his wide, charismatic, beaming, infectious smile! Derek brightened every room he entered.

    It doesn't surprise me in the least that Derek found his calling in reaching out and connecting with others. His personality was rare and truly magnetic.

    Even in death, Derek continues to minister and bring people together. What an amazing man God created when he brought Derek to this earth. Heaven has truly gained angels.

    I am praying continually for God’s peace to surround the entire Taatjes and Carpenter families. You are loved.

    Anne Courtade

  29. Anonymous

    >Derek, Jared Moberg, Josh Maurer, and I High-Fiving each other getting fired up watching John Piper Youtube videos in the Taatjes living room during our couples bible study!

    -Mitch Vander Baan

  30. >Derek's passion for life spilled over into all he did. Here's just a small memory of mine, but I think it paints an accurate picture of the way he lived:

    I remember playing pick-up basketball with Derek a few years ago, shortly after meeting him for the first time, and marveling at the ferocity of his play. Nevermind that he had been out of organized basketball for half a decade or that it was a just a friendly 2-on-2 game amongst friends. Derek played with the same fiery determination with which he lived his life. In a word, intense. But he knew how to compete, and in doing so, he made those around him better.

    And as intense as the game might get, afterwards he was right there with one of those giant arms draped around you, lifting you up and encouraging you.

    To me, that is a portrait of how Derek's passion impacted others; he intensely devoted his life to doing those things he was passionate about. And in doing so, he made a profound impact for Christ and made those around him better. Sometimes on the court, but far more often where it really mattered.

    He will be dearly missed.

  31. Erin Marie

    >Big Bob's Pizza leftovers!

    Every morning I came to watch the girls I think Derek asked me at LEAST three times before he left "how ya doin' girl??!" He really. really. cared.

    My first impression of him was meeting the whole family before I started nannying. He was passionately filling Will and I in on your parenting philosophy and he looked at Ella-barely 2 with her mischievous little Ella grin-and said "Ella! You're a sinner. You don't know it yet. But you need Jesus just like the rest of us".

    We laughed but it was then that I knew we were blessed to have him (and you. and your girls) in our lives.

    He was a dad who cared more about the souls of his girls than most I had seen. And they will reap so much fruit from the seeds of love he has sown already.

    -Erin Weatherhead

  32. Nancy Rice

    >One of my favorite memories of Derek and Charity was as leaders in our youth group in Chicago. They won a group dancing move with high schoolers that blew away any other groups, watching Derek move with his tall body was amazing and fun. He will always be remembered as "Spirited with the Joy of The Lord." Daryl and I are praying for you Charity and know that Derek is dancing with King David before our LORD in Honor and Glory.

  33. Spencer Schultze

    >I'll never forget when Derek came and spoke in chapel at GR Christian a few years ago. He spoke on the absolute Holiness of God: "It is a BIG deal." Talk about passion! His message was not well-received by all, but it got everyone talking, and he was right on with the message. I recall one of my teachers saying afterward, "I think that man was a prophet" speaking a word that our school needed to hear. I agree.

    I also remember Derek providing valuable counsel to me as I made a decision to play college basketball. He encouraged me to do so and in the days following always talked about how we would gladly take it to me in the driveway any time…

    Though sad for the loss of a godly man passionate for Christ, I can smile admiring Derek's legacy and picturing him with his long, outstretched arms and giant hands praising his Lord right now…

  34. Anonymous

    >I'll never forget how it was "love at first meeting" when we were introduced at Joe and Paige's Bible Study with Harvest Church back in Illinois. The friendship that the six of us shared was a blessing in my life then and has continued to be.

    Even though the miles have come between us, the friendship has remained. We have had some fantastic times together in Illinois, Cabo San Lucas, and Grand Rapids. I remember dancing on the furniture together while we blasted some music in Cabo, indulging in steak at Gibsons, passionately discussing God's word and smiling at each other when Derek would get fired up about the Final Four!

    I will forever be grateful for those memories and for the way Charity and Derek prayed for and supported me since Mark died. I've never forgotten how Derek has hugged me and with tears in his eyes told me time and again how he and Charity would pray for me and how they missed Mark.
    It brought me comfort and I hope that at least on some small level to be able to do the same for Charity and the girls.

    Derek's energy, love, commitment to his faith and family has left a wonderful legacy here on this earth.

  35. Accel Monroe Paramour

    >My favourite memory of Derek was when the youth group went the Newark, Jersey and we were all at Central Park and there was this panhandler there with this amazing guitar case which he had painted and he was playing really kool music. I asked Derek to dance with you and he was like "no, I don't think so" and the youth got all involved ans was like "Yeah! Do it!" So you two danced randomly in Central Park and it was beautiful. You two portrayed one of the most beautiful marriages.

  36. Susan McGowan

    >When you and Derek first moved to GR, I remember Derek coming to work and looking like Doug's twin (besides the noses). From there on out, I called him "Junior." It was fun working with Derek, besides him not wanting to learn how to do any paperwork, he daily told me we should come to Crossroads, until we finally did. :)

    One of the most vivid memories I have of Derek was when we went to your house to watch a basketball game with the two of you. Derek all of a sudden started going on and on about this kid in the youth group who accepted Christ. It wasn't even a commercial and his intensity was overpowering the exciting game that we were watching. It just showed that his passion for Christ was even greater than sports!

    Of course our annual Christmas card pics that he was always so excited about will never be forgotten. ;)

    I also share a birthday with Derek, so I will always think of him on that special day.

    Love you and your whole family Charity!

  37. >The first three things that come to my mind when I think of the memories I have of Derek are the tears he would shed when speaking, whether in front of the youth group, at church or even in a personal conversation. His conviction and overwhelming love for the Lord ran deep and was demonstrated in each tear that fell as he spoke of God's unfailing love in the midst of our sin.

    I was blaring David Crowder in my apartment yesterday and couldn't help but think of Derek and that green t-shirt he wore much too often!

    I also think back to the memories I have of the leaders meeting before youthgroup, to come together and pray, asking God to show up. Derek's authenticity and humility were so apparent and he challenged us as leaders to do the same!

  38. >Just living in the Hunter House – Derek was kind of our 5th roommate. =) There are so many memories, Char! I keep thinking about how Miss Organized-Detail-Oriented-Fun-Loving Chic wrangled in Mr. Unorganized-Wait-Til-The-Last-Minute-Crazy-Fun-Loving Guy….and all the obvious hilarity that could follow that! I love thinking back to the two of you and how it all began. Those are the best memories.

  39. lvansolkema

    >greg louganis…nuf said

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