I grew up in a Dutch reformed home in Fryslân, a northern province of the Netherlands. My family faithfully attended church every Sunday and I went through confirmation class. But it was not until I was 20 that I became a Christian.
At that time I was a student in Tropical Crop Science at Wageningen Agricultural University, and, being out of my social comfort zone, I started to drift. It was not popular to be a Christian at the university. I once had coffee with a professor who commented that religion is only a crutch for weak people not able to deal with the reality of life. Among students it was no different.
I started to join the party scene, which was basically Thursday nights disco evening. But in truth, it all felt very empty to me. One evening, some students from the evangelical student group ‘ICHTHUS’ invited me to join their Bible study. I was glad because I missed the structure from back home. However, I started to live a double life, trying to hide my Christianity from my fellow students, while trying to hide my worldly habits from my Christian friends.
Then I met an engineering student from Ghana who lived on my floor. He was an outspoken Christian and shared his faith with the other students. I started to feel the contrast between him and me and wondered why I didn’t know Jesus as a living person, the way my friend did. That is when I started to read the Bible again and God spoke to me through 1 Peter 4:3 that reads “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.”
Those words hit me like a hammer in the head. At the same time, all the things I had learned about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins became clear to me! I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord and great joy came over me – I experienced that I was born again! I turned from my old ways and started a close friendship with my African friend and others with whom we had a weekly Bible study and prayer meeting. I also continued to be active in the Evangelical student group and joined a local house church. I was baptized a little later.
God joined me with my wife Mary who is from Spain and gave us 4 daughters and one son. He led me to the USA to pursue a PhD in Soil Science at The Ohio State University and gave me a job as professor of Soil Management and Applied Soil Physics at Penn State University.
I really like my job, especially working with farmers, agricultural professionals, and my extension colleagues, doing work with youth in Africa, and having fellowship with other Christians off and on campus.
I am aware that a Christian worldview is totally opposed to the humanistic worldview common at the university. Our worldview is based on the absolute truth of the Bible. I therefore believe that God created this universe and everything in it, and that it did not evolve over billions of years. I also believe God created human beings with a very special purpose, to live in close communion with Him and with each other. I don’t believe that scientific evidence contradicts the Bible, but rather confirms it. However, many theories have been developed to accommodate the humanistic worldview that wants to exclude my Lord so I will have to disagree with those.
Lord I offer my life to you, everything I've been through
Friends describe me
You'll have to ask them yourself!
Best advice I ever received
"The question is, What does Jesus Christ think of the university?" by Charles Malik, Lebanese academic and diplomat, responsible for the drafting and adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
My undergrad alma mater
Wageningen Agricultural University
My worst subject in school
If I weren't a professor, I would
Soul care, The normal Christian life, Soil erosion in the tropics, The Bible
Gladiator, The Chosen, We were soldiers once
My latest accomplishment
Book chapter in Soil Organic Carbon and Feeding the Future: Basic Soil Processes; helped farmers start a grass-fed meat marketing cooperative; did soil compaction demonstration for agricultural professionals
Soil health and profitability effects of grazing of cover crops; tillage effects on soil health and crop productivity; interseeding cover crops
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