What did Derek teach you?

Beyond anything, Derek like to share…His opinion, the Gospel, a good laugh. He was a pastor to many, both young and old. Join with others as they remember what they learned.


  1. Sam Seo


    There are so many things that you have taught in 912 youth group. Today, I was reading the Proverbs 7. I remember you used the analogy of fishing to describe the seduction. You asked everyone to take the knees to repent ourselves.

    I will be honest. There were numerous times that you asked us to repent and I often felt drained because I always thought we were only learning about understanding of the fear of the LORD a lot more than the love of God or perhaps the grace of God. How foolish I was to even ask that before repenting my heart.

    But truth be told, I admit today that you were right. Beginning of the understanding and wisdom is to fear the LORD. And when we do not fear the LORD, we become prideful and are more prone to harden our hearts even when Holy Spirit asks us to turn back to Jesus (SO THAT WE CAN HAVE AN INTIMATE AND PERFECT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD–love and grace from God). I should have known the importance of the repentance earlier on.

    But for now, what do I say?

    “THANK YOU” for your teaching and my prayer is to continue to seek my heart and ask myself first, “Where is my heart at?”, “Am I having an intimate relationship with God?”, “If not, I must repent myself to aks for the forgiveness that sins that I have placed over God.”

    Derek. I love you and miss you so much.

  2. Derek Taatjess
    He was, to this day,the most amazing and real man of God I have ever have the privilege to know. His passion about the things of God spread to everyone around him. He concerned himself with the things that concerned God. He was radically honest and would tell you you were in sin to your face, but at the same time did it as Jesus did, totally in love. I have such respect for Derek. He was not afraid to be who God created him to be. He showed the high schoolers he lead how to be disciples for the Lord, how to cherish family, and how to hate sin and live for God by living it out in his own life. His heart belonged first to the Lord, and then to his wife and children, as anyone could clearly see by the way he lit up when he talked about them. I have many memories wonderful of youth group with Derek, and a mission trip as well. His teachings and his life God used to make me the person I am today. I miss him terribly and look forward to the day I get to see him again.

  3. Anonymous

    I miss you more than I can describe with words. Daily I find myself thinking about what you've done in my life…no, what Christ did through you in my life and I just feel pain. Can I be honest? It still feels like the wind got knocked out of me. I can't talk about you without feeling that pain. Wednesday was so hard for me…and people just didn't get it.

    I find joy in this though. Your impact is resonating.

    The guys called me tonight and wanted to "hang out". They said, we wanna do a bible study.
    Derek, it's FRIDAY NIGHT and these guys want do study the bible with me. We just spent the last 2 hours together diving into 1 John 5 and I can't help but see the impact of your life on those guys.

    You taught us so much. Beyond that, you helped us crave God's Word. Nothing life 1 John to really provide a test of our lives.

    Derek, I miss you…

  4. Mary Zuidema

    >I was reading I Thess.1:2-10(Phillips translation)this morning and kept thinking how it reminded me of Derek's life!
    We never forget…
    1. Derek's faith has meant solid achievement.
    2. His love has meant hard work.
    3. His hope that he had in the Lord Jesus meant sheer dogged endurance in the life he lived before God.
    4. God selected Derek for a special purpose.
    5. Derek was an eager disciple, accepting God's Word as the powerful message of the Holy Spirit.
    6. Derek experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit.
    7. Thus, he became an example to believers all over the country.
    8. Derek looked forward to the coming of Jesus, and his work goes on even after God called him Home!
    May we follow in his footsteps as he followed Christ's!

  5. Anonymous

    >Derek taught me how to love, and respect people!
    Derek taught me how to read the Bible
    Derek taught me how to listen to the Spirit
    Derek taught me that suffering is a blessing
    Derek lived a life for Christ and I saw Christ in everything he did…from broomball to preaching to loving his wife and family!! Derek most importantly showed me how to live a life completely dependent on God! It was never, "Andy, this is how you do this," it was just how he lived his life! Completely in fear and in love with The Creator!!

    -Andy Perschbacher

  6. Anonymous

    >I was reading through various notes about sermons I heard Derek preach, and lessons he taught at the college gathering.I'll share some of it. ‎"There is joy when you stop living for yourself, and start living for the One who gave it all…this is humility." ~Derek Taatjes~ 1 John 3- we give and receive love in various languages, and love is not an emotion or a feeling like the world thinks. It is a passion that leads to action. Love is the most important command by God, first of all to love him, and then others.(Side note: but I remember him saying each member of your family's love languages as an example, and it really showed how much he was trying to show each of you love in your language). If there is any sign of bitterness or anger towards another person, or you talk in a negative manner about a person, this is equated as bad as murder in the Lord's eyes. When the Gospel is in you, you sacrificially lay down your life to love others. We need to be in relationships, do life together, express and fulfill each other's needs. Love is not what you say, it is what you do. When we are faithless, He is faithful. Everyday the Spirit convicts our hearts, and we should be transformed each day, and brought to our knees before God to repent.
    Derek's passion as he spoke made me excited to make changes in my life and live more passionately for Him. He would always say, hey look up here, when he wanted to be sure you grasped some concept.
    Derek's sermons had come at some hard times I was going through, and they seemed to be God speaking directly to me through him. I was uplifted and encouraged as well as convicted and challenged. In the short time I knew him, he truly impacted my life in great ways, and I will miss his passion and his teaching the truth in love. I was at the visitation and the services, and it was amazing to see God working. It doesn't surprise me though, since that was who Derek was. It wouldn't have seemed like a celebration of him and Dylan's lives any other way. It was very sad and brought me to tears, but on the other hand, I was in the presence of God, and imagining Derek and Dylan, and others I know who have passed on all singing with us to God. I could envision how we were all doing the same thing, just they were praising God and shouting for His glory in Heaven, and how awesome that must be since it is special here on Earth. You're in my constant thoughts and prayers, and I'm so thankful God allowed me to know Derek, and precious little Dylan, I could tell from pictures and such, he looked like a great little guy full of life and joy in the Lord.

  7. Anonymous

    >Just to read about this man touches my heart, I just pray for the family and god comforts you through this difficult time.

  8. Caitlin Maurer

    >Hey Charity,
    I was reading Ephesians this morning and realized I have a ton of notes written in my Bible about forgiveness from a sermon Derek taught awhile back. It was so refreshing to see those thoughts and remember how life-changing they were for me when I first wrote them. The two statements that hit me the hardest were that "forgiveness is one of the most powerful ways to portray the gospel" and "forgiveness is a command…and God's commands are pathways to freedom!" There's someone in my life I refused to forgive for the longest time and after that sermon God gave me strength to obey and begin the process of forgiveness. Praise God for your hubby and all the great things God used him for and all the lives that will be changed even now.
    I pray these words for you today: "that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19

  9. Anonymous

    >"Suffering is a gift!" I also had never heard anyone address the odd question that many of us ask about 'why bad things happen to good people?' It made so much sense to me when Derek explained that we could not ask the question that way because it was putting supremacy in man instead of God. I also remember Derek saying in a big huge voice, "Our God cannot be stopped" over and over in one of his teachings. All of these truths that God spoke to me through Derek will be with me forever, and for that I am so grateful and blessed. I remember the first time I attended Crossroads was one of the times that Derek taught, and after the service I saw him walking down the hall with one of his daughters, swinging their arms and grinning from ear to ear. I remember thinking to myself, "that guy is a joyous father." I know that Dereks ministry will live on and that God will continue to use him even though his wingspan is in heaven. -Beth Shapiro

  10. >Taatjes Family and Friends,
    I've only had a few encounters with Derek. Most if not all of what I know of this man was through my sister, Aleece Hansen or through the Crossroads Community. My heart hurts for those hurting but rejoices in knowing a father and son are home with our Savior.
    I will continue to pray with you for the months to come.

  11. Kris- A Servant of Christ

    >Derek taught me how to be a man. Passionate, loving, humble, vulnerable and sinful. He taught me what it's like to be a husband that loves his wife. Most important, he taught me how to be a man who lives by the Word of God.

  12. Anonymous

    >This is what Derek taught me:
    Matthew 5:4
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

    Derek was not a man that I knew well. I could probably count on two hands the number of conversations that I had with him. I didn’t know him personally, but what I did know is that he was a man full of passion for Jesus. His passion and his love for the Lord were contagious. Standing in the front, arms raised high in worship, his arm span could almost cover the entire row. He readily admitted his flaws and walked in humility. He loved his family, his church, and the youth group God had entrusted to him. The impact this one man had on so many lives is amazing and overwhelming. All because he lived his life surrendered to the One who gave him life. It forces me to ask myself about the impact I have on the lives of those I encounter on a daily basis. Do I live a life surrendered to the One who gave me life? Do I lay it all down for Jesus and answer the call he has on my everyday life? May I live a life surrendered to you, Jesus.

  13. >At the service on Sunday Rod read an email he had received from Derek. In the email Derek spoke of the teaching he was planning for a service at Crossroads. He had prepared a message on forgiveness and was praying that the Lord would convict people and change their hearts.

    I want you to know that the Lord answered his prayer. I recall that Sunday with perfect clarity. I woke up that morning and through a dream the Holy Spirit convicted me of an area of bitterness in my heart. I was so overwhelmed with conviction that I fell on my face asking the Lord to help me forgive. I knew God really meant business when I got to church and heard from people at the first service that Derek had preached on forgiveness. I cried through the entire teaching as the Lord worked powerfully in my heart. The Lord used Derek and answered his prayers! I was so changed by the way the Lord brought healing and forgiveness into my life that day that I have shared the story with many people since.

    When Rod read that email from Derek I knew that the Lord had used Derek's prayers to prepare my heart for the message Derek taught on forgiveness. I recall Derek with tears in his eyes admitting to his own struggles and admonishing his brothers and sisters to join him in repentance. I thank the Lord for using him in such a powerful way.

  14. >Derek challenged me to focus on the primacy of God's holiness. God's love is incredible, but it can only truly be understood when we have taken to heart God's holiness.

  15. Alison V

    >Derek taught me that you are never alone, and life is always worth living. The two most important lessons of my life.

  16. Heart in Heaven


    As Derek let God use the studies of 1John to change his life… God was changing mine, in Derek's movement from glory unto glory, God has done a great work to move my mountain of self into the sea. "Christ in me is to live, to die is to gain"-that's Derek. That is true LIFE eternal. Yes, let's pick up the baton and run! By the power and strength of our LORD our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). HE, Our RIGHTEOUSNESS, became UN-righteousness so that we could become RIGHTEOUS, just like Him. He's the only one who could become sin and still be righteous and then give His Righteousness to others! <3 Thank you Jesus!

    Derek: Wholly Devoted to our Savior Jesus Christ. I have decided to be like Him. "Be like me" said Paul. "Be like me" said Derek. I'm going to be like Derek, I'm going to be like Paul. It's time. There is no other time but now.

    Even if you have nothing else… you'll always have ME, says Jesus…Remain in me. I will remain in you FOREVER.

    Sarah Elizabeth

  17. >Derek taught me to live a life that hated sin. Seriously, I've never met a man that grieved his own sin as much as Derek did. I would talk to him throughout the week about the text for Sunday nights and he would always tell me how nervous he was about what God was doing in his own heart.

    Derek taught me how to love. I've never seen a man love so passionately. He would lay down his own desires in a heartbeat if it meant he could serve someone else. The first day I met him he said, "James, how can I serve you?" It blew me away then and still blows me away. I'm taking that phrase and applying it to my life.

    Derek taught me how to lead. Actually, he taught me how to let God lead. I'll always remember that.

    Derek taught me how to love on my parents through the hardest season of time my family has ever been through. In the midst of uncertainty, he was there for me. He always pointed me to the cross. He would just tell me to love them like Jesus loves them. And yes, that meant to lay my life down for them, just as Jesus did.

    Derek taught me to listen to the Holy Spirit. Literally the first night I met Derek, he said to me, "James I feel like God just wants you to lead us in worship tonight". We hadn't even talked for 2 minutes and he heard God tell him to tell me to lead the college group in worship that night. God sure had a perfect plan.

    Derek taught me to love with more than my words. He taught me that I couldn't just say that I loved others, but I had to live it. He would tell us the story about Ella wanting to play hide and seek with him while he was preparing a message. He responded that he loved her so much, but he was studying the bible and couldn't play yet. Her response was "What does it say Daddy?" He looked at the text in 1 John 3:18, "love not in word or talk, but it deed and truth". He set his notes down and started counting. He understood that loving others meant so much more than saying it.

    Derek taught me to love my future wife. If I can help it, I'll never let her get her own glass of water. That will just always stick with me.

    Derek taught me to hate evil and to speak the truth. I grieved with him about certain areas where truth was misconstrued. His heart was SO HUGE for truth and the gospel that if he saw others leading people astray, his heart broke, not just for the people following, but also the one leading.

    Derek taught me to find truth. It wasn't about feeling or emotion. Where was the truth? Was the gospel proclaimed?

    Derek taught me to fight sin and repent. It wasn't about my grieving and wrestling with my own sin. It was simply embracing God's truth and making a heart change. I'll never forget the picture he painted for me of God's love washing us white as snow…

    Derek taught me to love the gospel and to live the gospel. He saw the real need of repentance and humility in the world. Repentance and forgiveness. That's the gospel. That's the gospel.

    One thing I know. Derek lived his life laying it down for others.

    Heaven rejoiced at the reception of a great warrior and his son.

    I know Derek is worshiping our King with arms stretched wide, and he would trade that for the world.

    Truth sets free.

  18. Alyssa Wagner

    >Derek taught me what it was like to be part of a healthy, Christ-centered ministry. I had never before lead under a leader who poured into his leaders with so much love and conviction. This seriously changed my life. (And this goes for you too Charity!)

  19. Tammy Kranzo

    >Every single day I am reminded of something Derek taught me- EVERY moment is a gift.

  20. Saraiah's Journey

    >Everytime I saw Derek he asked how Jeremiah and I were doing. He genuinely wanted to know. He acted is if he was constantly trying to care about others…….but a genuine try. Not a fake try, but a seeking after you b/c he wanted nothing else but to see people live and walk with Christ.
    His sermons were always convicting, but to the core. He never left himself out of the equation. Always humbled. ON his knees with the rest of us.
    He will be greatly missed and I had just started to know him.

  21. ErinAlies

    >Derek taught me that suffering is a gift!

  22. Mary Zuidema

    >Derek taught me the reality that we all can be modern day 'apostle Pauls'…
    Derek lived Colossians 1:28-29….
    "So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him, so that we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. This is what I am working and struggling at, with all the strength that God puts into me." (Phillips translation)
    Let's all take up the baton!!!!!!

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