The 2014 Derek Taatjes Spiritual Impact Scholarship
Derek Taatjes, a 1999 Taylor University Alumnus, was a passionate man that learned to become a servant leader during his four years at Taylor. On April 14, 2011, Derek and his infant son, Dylan, passed away in a tragic house fire, leaving behind his wife Charity (Carpenter ‘99) and their two daughters Ella and Johanna.
In their time as a family of five, the Taatjes’ left a lasting impact on their community, neighbors, friends, and loved ones. Their door was never closed to those in need, the opportunity to share God’s love was never lost, and a hug was never spared. Through work as a youth pastor at Crossroads Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, Derek left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of countless young people, with Charity at his side to help direct his unbridled passion. And although the Taatjes family was only blessed with Dylan for 5 months, his joyful spirit and undeniable energy brought smiles to everyone he encountered.
Derek’s path to ministry was circuitous. He was a business major and was headed down a path of financial success with his sales career, which led him to his dad’s commercial real estate business. Derek and his wife volunteered with the youth at their church for over 8 years. After the birth of their first daughter, they prayed about transitioning out of youth ministry, but God had a different calling in mind. He led Derek’s heart to desire a full-time vocation at Crossroads Bible Church and to walk away from the American Dream. In Derek’s own words, “I came to know the Lord at the young age of seven, but it was not until my college years that the lights turned on and I understood the commitment and continual heart change that must occur to following God on the straight and narrow path. By God’s grace I am a work in progress and am trying to discover each day how to be more like Jesus.”
This scholarship will be awarded to one who has a passion for Christ and has a desire to impact his Taylor community towards Christ. As Derek said, it was in college that he felt the true commitment and heart change. His Taylor experience and college relationships started his passion for God’s word and the change it can have on a young person’s heart. His family and friends hope this passion can carry on through this scholarship and its recipients.