Youth pastor, son die in Grand Rapids house fire

A youth pastor and his 6-month-old son died in a house fire while his wife and two daughters were away from Michigan, officials said. Derek Taatjes, 34, of Grand Rapids was found dead in the living room Thursday night, while son Dylan was in an upstairs bedroom, authorities said. The fire likely started in the basement. Taatjes worked with young people at the nondenominational Crossroads Bible Church in Grand Rapids.
Apr 15, 2011


“There is a huge hole left in the church," said Crossroads’ former executive pastor, Randy Hekman. "But as tragic as this is, good can come out of tragedy if you respond appropriately.”

Nathan Hekman, 17, said Taatjes gave a powerful talk to teens last Sunday.

“He laid it all out. His talk was about laying it all down, lay it out for God,” Nathan said.

Taatjes’ wife, Charity, and two daughters were in Florida seeing family.

On the church’s website, Taatjes wrote about the best part of his job: “Seeing God truly grip a young heart and transform it to the image of His Son,” he said. “Salvation in Jesus is not just a prayer, it is a life change and a personal choice to follow Jesus with our whole hearts.”

— From The Associated Press


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