HAARLEM, Holland (BNc) — Seventy people attended the 80th birthday celebration of Jim Krumrei in Haarlem on February 26th. Except for periods of a few months spent in the US, Jim and Ruth Krumrei completed their 49th year of continual service on the mission field in January of 2012.
Jim was baptized into Christ at his home congregation in Amberg, Wisconsin when he was 13. He began preaching while still in secondary school when he was 17. In 1950 he went to Freed-Hardeman college to take their three-year preacher training course, as had his two older brothers before him.
During the summers he worked in Chicago for a company that trimmed and cared for trees.
After his first year at college, he met Ruth Spencer at a congregation in Chicago, and they started dating. Ruth was working for Sears & Roebuck to earn money to go to Central Christian College in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
The next summer Jim and Ruth were engaged, and they were married on Sept. 1, 1952. Ruth was from Cleora, Oklahoma where her father was a farmer and a preacher.
In 1954 Jim and Ruth moved to work with a small congregation at Sault St. Marie, Michigan, where they stayed for seven years. Jim also helped churches across the boarder in Canada at Sault St. Marie, Iron Bridge and Thessalon, Ontario in special evangelistic efforts and vacation Bible schools.
In 1961 Jim and Ruth moved to work with the church in Jackson, Michigan. While at the Michigan Christian College lectureship in 1962, they were encouraged by Ralph and Clara Aycock to join them in Holland as missionaries. The Aycock’s son-in-law, Bill Richardson, was also in Holland. Jim already knew Bill because he had held meetings at his home congregation before he went away to school.
With advice and help from Otis Gatewood who was president of Michigan Christian College, Jim began raising funds to go to Holland. When he visited congregations he would ask people to pledge $1 a month to their work. Those who pledged $1 usually gave more when the time came.
A congregation at Miami, Oklahoma agreed to sponsor their work and did so for 5 years. On January 14th, 1963 Jim, Ruth and their five children arrived in Holland by ship.
They went to Haarlem where there was a congregation that had been established by Jacob C. Vandervis in 1946. He had become a Christian at Salt Lake City, Utah after hearing a debate by Otis Gatewood, and decided to return to his home country Holland to preach the truth.
Bill Richardson, who had gone to Holland in 1948, left in the fall of 1963. While learning Dutch, the Krumreis worked with Ralph and Clara Aycock. After the Aycocks left in 1965, Jim and Ruth continued the work in Haarlem.
After meeting in rented facilities in Haarlem for many years, a store building was purchased and remodeled as a meeting place in 1965.
Since arriving in 1963, Haarlem has been Jim and Ruth’s home base of operation. Yet, Jim has preached and helped in many different places through the years. This is possible because Holland is a small country. Ruth has taught ladies’ classes in area-wide gatherings as well as teaching children’s classes at Haarlem.
In 1968 the John Hurt Bible correspondence courses were translated into Dutch and were an effective means of reaching new people.
In the 1960’s evangelistic campaigns were conducted in Amsterdam and in The Hague with large-scale advertising and distribution of literature. All the workers in the Dutch-speaking area worked together for these efforts.
For eight years in the 1970’s students came from Harding each summer to conduct campaigns for Christ in Haarlem.
Robin Moss and Claudine Gray stayed afterwards and helped for a year. (They were later married.)
In 1981 Scott Raab came to Holland from York for a summer campaign. In October of 1982 he came back and worked with Jim and Ruth in Haarlem until August of 1984. In January of 1991 he and Shirley (who had also been on the campaign in 1981) came to work fulltime in the Dutch-speaking area.
In the mid 1990’s Jim taught and baptized the first people who formed a new congregation in the city of Groningen in northern Holland. For many years Jim and Ruth went one weekend a month to help the church there.
In 2000 and 2002 Let’s Start Talking campaigns were conducted in Haarlem.
Through the years Jim and Ruth have helped with the Bible camp at Solwaster, Belgium. The land was purchased in 1965 by J. Lee Roberts and Don Taylor. Over the years the facilities have gradually been improved. Each summer there are camp weeks for various age groups and one week of family camp.
Since 2003 Jim has averaged going to Suriname once a year to help with evangelism. These trips have varied between 6 days and 6 weeks. Suriname is a Dutch-speaking country on the northeastern coast of South America. It is a former Dutch colony with a population of half a million. Jim has helped a Dutch and an English speaking congregation in Paramaribo. There is also a French-speaking congregation in the city and another Dutch-speaking congregation in another city.
Jim and Ruth have had to slow down a little the last few years, but God has granted them sufficient health that they are both still active in the Lord’s vineyard. They raised 6 children on the mission field. A son, Phil, lives in Holland and a daughter, Karla, lives in Flanders, Belgium. Their other children live in the US.