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Rev. Rudy E. Poettcker
B.A., M.Div., D.Ed. in progress

Dean of Studies for RIC and RITS
Suriname Field Director
Headmaster, Christian Liberty Academy of Paramaribo

Rev. Rudy Poettcker (pronounced "Pot-ker") and his wife, Sharilyn, joined Reformation Christian Ministries (RCM) in 1994 and departed for Suriname on August 8 of that year. Originally, he had sought out the possibility of working in Russia, but at that time, the need was greater in Suriname. Little did RCM or he know what the Lord had in store for him. As it has turned out, God has mightily used him in individual lives, but also in the nurturing of the school in Professor Rudy PoettckerSuriname through many difficult times.

EARLY HISTORY

JOINING REFORMATION CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES

EDUCATIONAL AND PASTORAL WORK IN SURINAME  

TRIALS OF SERVICE OVERSEAS

DEAN OF STUDIES AND COMMUTING TO SURINAME

 

EARLY HISTORY

Rev. Poettcker was born and raised in Alberta, Canada, of godly German Mennonite parents who immigrated from Russia. Sharilyn spent her early life in Chad (North Central Africa), as her parents were missionaries there. 

Young and Fearless ProphetAfter they were married and unable to have children, the Poettckers adopted two children, Karissa and Micah. For many years, Rudy Poettcker resisted entering the ministry.  As a result he engaged in various businesses and learned a great deal of the construction business (which later God would use while he was in Suriname).  During his various studies in the Scriptures, he came to an understanding of covenant theology and a biblical world-and-life view.  As a result he began visiting and eventually joined the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Evangelical Synod, though now Presbyterian Church of America) of Calgary, Alberta.

After completing his studies at the University of Calgary with a Bachelors degree in history, he went on to study theology at two different seminaries and, after some time, completed his theological training at Mid-America Reformed Seminary (at that time located in Orange City, Iowa). Upon graduation, he served as pastoral supply in a Christian Reformed Church and was ordained in the Orthodox Christian Reformed Church.

Through the many challenges and struggles having to do with liberalism and unbiblical teachings, the Lord put them into yet another severe challenge of their Christian life when their son Micah contracted brain cancer. This led to several years of intensive efforts to pursue treatment, but eventually the Lord was pleased to take Micah home to be with His Lord and Savior while in the arms of his parents.

JOINING REFORMATION CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES

Rev. & Mrs. Rudy Poettcker with daughter Karissa in 1994 preparing to leave for Suriname.

The Rudy Poettcker Family - Daughter Karissa - 1994After this, Rev. Poettcker sought to establish a Reformed church in southern British Columbia (Cranbrook, B.C.) while supporting himself with a business.  It was during this time that the Lord brought to mind the newsletters that he had seen coming to his church from Reformation Christian Ministries. He made contact with Rev. Donnan and after some discussions, flew down to Florida to meet with Rev. Donnan and Rev. Patrick Dickens who was then just back from Albania for a brief season. While originally looking at the field of Russia, where RCM had native Russian colleagues but no missionaries, it was determined that either Albania or Suriname would be more suitable initially in order to gain mission experience. In the final analysis, Suriname was the decision that was made and where the greatest need existed that could utilize Rev. Poettcker's educational training.

EDUCATIONAL AND PASTORAL WORK IN SURINAME

Most of the rest of the history of the Poettcker's in Suriname will be covered in the RCM History under Suriname, but we'll make brief note of the highlights of the work to which the Poettcker's have dedicated their lives.

He began primarily learning the system of the Christian Liberty Academy of Paramaribo, Surname. He also provided pulpit supply in First Presbyterian Church. (Both the school and church had been started by his predecessor, Rev. Geoffrey Donnan in 1979 and 1978 respectively.)  After several years and the departure of some other foreign missionaries helping in the school, Rev. Poettcker was promoted to Asst. Head Master of the school, though continued to carry a heavy teaching load and a shared preaching schedule. Some time later, he was asked to join the session (consistory/board) of the First Presbyterian Church (FPC) and continued to serve as pulpit supply as well as providing theological training for Asgar Hamid, who was an elder in the church as well as administrator of the school. Sometime later, Rev. Poettcker was called to be the pastor of FPC and in this capacity, eventually, was able to train Asgar Hamid to replace him.

Rev. Hamid being ordained by Rev. Donnan and Rev. PoettckerIn 1998, First Presbyterian Church joined the Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church (CRPC) with Rev. Poettcker as its pastor and also Mr. Hamid as an elder. Simultaneous to this, during his frequent buying trips to the United States, he assisted Rev. Donnan in the planting of King's Reformed Presbyterian Church, at that time in Fellsmere, Florida (now Palm Bay). In 2002, his student, Mr. Hamid, came to the United States for an ordination examination by the CRPC presbytery and was called and installed later that year (picture on right) as the new pastor of FPC becoming the first indigenous pastor of the church started twenty years earlier. Rev. Poettcker bore the brunt of the responsibility for the training of then Rev. Hamid in preparation for this momentous occasion.

TRIALS OF SERVICE

Amid the many trials that the Lord delivered the Poettcker's through, was the encounter in January 2000 that Rev. Poettcker had with U.S. Immigration authorities while seeking to return to the United States from Canada with some belongings which had been in storage for many years. Despite prior arrangements the Immigration personnel mistook him as one who was attempting to immigrate illegally to the U.S. and barred him from further entrance to the U.S. for a period of five years. Needless to say this was an extreme setback, as we were in the process of preparing to file papers for him to emigrate to the U.S. in order to take on the Dean of Studies responsibilities and give opportunity for the work in Suriname to mature by having him less available. This process was finally overcome in 2002, when Rev. Poettcker succeeded in obtaining a waiver of this previous action through the U.S. Embassy in Suriname.

In March of 2003, an arsonist (probably a disgruntled student angry with Rev. Poettcker) started a fire under his truck, which quickly spread to the multi-purpose school and church building which included a residence above where the Poettcker's lived. Thankfully in the Lord's providence, though they were fast asleep at 3 a.m., the Lord sent a passerby, who after unsuccessfully trying to rouse them by knocking, threw stones on the roof in order to awaken them. They barely escaped with their lives and lost almost everything they had including their papers which contained the visa that Rev. Poettcker had only recently secured allowing him to reenter the U.S. Not only did this necessitate a huge rebuilding effort, but also required restarting the entire visa process.   (See full report on fire and rebuilding process.)

Before (above) and after (below) the fire in March 2003.

Not only was this traumatic for the Poettckers, but also for the Donnans who had lived for nine years in the house and had built the buildings that were burned. However, Rev. Donnan, in his first phone conversation with Rev. Poettcker the afternoon after the fire, drawing from all of the experience and qualifications of Rev. Poettcker, said to him, "I could not think of anyone more qualified to cope with this than you." And his confidence was not misplaced. Not only did Rev. Poettcker and Rev. Hamid oversee and particpate in the entire rebuilding process, but with the exception of one day of missed school, both the church and the school continued in operation during the two years of rebuilding.

The finished product March, 2005. 

During the entire time that Rev. Poettcker was fulfilling his various capacities, Sharilyn Poettcker served as the school nurse, worked with the library and also occasionally sat in for an absent teacher. During one occasion, she was able to save the life of the son of a nearby resident who had attempted to commit suicide.

In 2001, their daughter Karissa completed high school in the U.S., went to a medical technical training school in Orlando, and eventually was married and returned with her husband to Calgary, Alberta, where she resides with her husband and two sons.

 

 DEAN OF STUDIES AND COMMUTING TO SURINAME

In 2006, the Lord finally made it possible for the Poettckers to receive a permanent resident visa to the United States. In May of that year, they returned to the U.S. finally to assume full Dean of Studies responsibilities while continuing to oversee the work in Suriname. He was also promoted to the role of Headmaster of Christian Liberty Academy in Paramaribo assuming that responsibility from Rev. Donnan.

Graduation at Christian Liberty Academy in SurinameAfter a good while living with the Donnans at the RCM headquarter and residence facilities (something that had been done many times during extended visits in the past), they were able to locate a suitable home in Palm Bay, Florida (about 16 miles from the RCM office). Rev. Poettcker now commutes three to four times a year to Suriname during critical times, continues to teach high school courses and assist in the administration, buys and collects all the books for shipment to Suriname each school year and now also is heading up the Bachelor of Education curriculum development program for the Bachelor of Education degree offered by Reformation International College. Additionally, he serves as Dean of Studies for most of the students at the undergraduate and graduate level for both the college and seminary.

Rudy and Sharilyn Poettcker - Itinerant Missionaries to Suriname and the worldOnce they were established in the U.S., Sharilyn Poettcker dutifully secured the necessary training and testing to requalify for her license for nursing and secured employment as a registered nurse working in the oncology and later the cardiac units of Holmes Memorial Hospital in Melbourne, Florida. Her on-going ministry is in helping to support their living expenses in the U.S. so that her husband can devote full-time to his calling of bringing advanced leadership training to future reformers.  

One of the most recent trials the Poettckers have faced is that during her last few years, Sharilyn has had to undergo double-knee replacement due to deteriorated knee cartilage. She successfully completed that and returned to work in June 2008.

Rev. Poettcker also serves with Rev. Donnan as co-pastor of King's Reformed Presbyterian Church. Since the church is small, only recently has a stipend begun similar to the same paid a visiting preacher. 

As you can see, from the above, Rev. Poettcker is a most capable man who has dedicated his life in service to the Gospel and has the greatest concern for advancing the preparation of leaders for both Christian schools and the Gospel ministry. He believes strongly in the purpose of Reformation International College and Reformation International Theological Seminary and the programs of education designed for students from around the world.

At the moment of this writing, he oversees the work of six students from Suriname, and one student from Italy as they study, along with others in North America.  He also is developing the Bachelor of Education degree program in conjunction with some other associated Florida Christian schools.  Additionally, he is reworking the Master of Divinity degree to make it even more suitable for the distance learning and eventual on-line process.

June, 2008

 
 
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