Gerrit Van Zwol says, although he has been a part of BelPres since birth, his true involvement started in 2008, after spending four memorable years with his family as missionaries in Indonesia. “I loved our time in Indonesia,” Gerrit recalls, and he hopes to return some day for a visit. The eldest of three boys, Gerrit is the son of BelPres members Nan and Ted Van Zwol.
As an 18-year-old Running Start high school student at Cascadia College in Bothell, Gerrit keeps very active. His BelPres involvement extends from the High School Student Leadership Team (SLT) to his audio-visual work with elementary, modern, and traditional worship. Most recently, Gerrit was elected a church elder, expanding the intergenerational perspective on the leadership team.
He treasures his time with SLT and considers it the “best experience you can have in high school.” He refers to the group as a tight-knit community, calling them his brothers and sisters and explaining the love they share. He includes not only his fellow teens in the circle of camaraderie and care but also the high school leaders. “No matter what time of day or night, I know I can call on my peers in the group for support,” he says. “We are all there for each other!”
Gerrit’s work with the communications department in the audio-visual arena also keeps him involved, learning new skills, juggling responsibilities, and fueling his passion. He is interested in a future career in video production and believes “God may grant a way” for him to follow his interest. He points to Whitworth College in Spokane as his dream school and hopes to attend after graduation.
A mentor to Gerrit, Senior Pastor Scott Dudley says: “I have known Gerrit most of his life and have watched him grow up. From the time he was young he had a passion to follow Jesus and a clear sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. He has always been very mature. His love for both Jesus and BelPres is contagious.
“I am thrilled that both Gerrit and Lindsay Metz have joined the elder team this fall. They will help us to follow Jesus and make him known in our continually shifting cultural context,” he adds.
Gerrit also served on the Baja, Mexico Mission Trip in 2016. “We built two houses in one day and because of that, two families now have homes,” he says.
Like many teens, his biggest challenges are balancing the demands on his time with the stress that sometimes goes hand-in-hand.
Gerrit explains his BelPres volunteer work like this: “I volunteer not because I need to or because it’s what a good disciple of God should do. I do not do it out of duty. I volunteer because it is how I have found and grow my faith, and how I help others find theirs.”
“Gerrit has a passion and the heart to love and serve others,” says Steven Johnson, high school director. “He is willing to do whatever it takes to help care for those in his community. This love for others is driven by his continually growing relationship with God.”
“Volunteering is one of the best feelings I have ever had. It’s awesome to see others praising the Lord and know that I was able to help with that,” Gerrit says.
Clearly, Gerrit loves serving at church and following Jesus. “BelPres just feels like my second home,” he says.