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Our family tree

Our culture is not very big on recording or even knowing much about our descendants.  The Bible does warn not to get caught up in such things in a way that the Mormons do, and if you ever talked to an Asian animist, you know how powerful their stories are on ancestor worship.  Our First Nations animist stories somewhat reflect the same, but not to the same level of fear.

Since working with SAT-7, a ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, I understand a bit more of the honour placed on family ties and how the Bible is keen on describing family history in the sense of God fulfilling His promises through the generations of families.

I miss not knowing anything about my father’s side.  I never met a single member of his family.  His past was so twisted and unloved that he never survived that emotional trauma and easily set aside that love for family that binds us together.  I have tried to look for my cousins, but the van Laar name is like Smith on the English side.

My mother’s side is quite different.  I can trace our family back to the 1500’s.  If you are a Reformationist, then you will recognize her family name which is Bullinger.  Yes, she is in the same family line as Heinrich Bullinger.  In fact, she is the last member of her family line – upon her death, the Bullinger name will no longer exist on this earth.  I have visited Germany for an extended stay and met many of my relatives there and friends of my mother’s.  I speak German and carry on many of the German customs today in my home, with my wife and my children.  Amazing how close ties with family culture does influence.

I am the first generation born in Canada.  With two other brothers, we join the immensely populated world of van Laars in the Netherlands and in California.  At one time we were the only van Laar’s in Canada and now there are quite a few in Ontario and in Alberta.

However, the joy comes in being the first followers of Christ in this long history of family ties.  We are steeped in religion with my father being part of the Dutch Reformed Church and my mother in the Lutheran Church.  I know that my grandmother had an incredible relationship with Jesus, and enjoyed being a Christian.  But as my mother described, she would have loved to worship, pray and engage with Jesus as her best friend and Saviour if someone had taken the time to introduce Him to her.

Now its my turn to set my family tree in a manner that one can trace, not only a physical heritage, but a spiritual one too.  May the Lord find our family faithful to Him in generations to come and may He find it in His purpose to establish a love and hunger for Him within each of them.



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