On June 30, 2015, Andrew Ryskamp will retire from a long-standing career of dedicated service and disciplined leadership with World Renew, the community development and disaster response agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
For over 40 years Ryskamp has ministered to people in need with passion and compassion, co-leading the organization’s work in addressing poverty, disaster, and injustice among poor communities in North American and internationally.
In 1974 he started working as an agronomist on the field in Bangladesh. Later, he rose to the position Field Director in the Philippines and then took the same position temporarily in Sierra Leone. On returning to the U.S., Ryskamp became Director of Domestic Ministries, overseeing the agency’s fundraising efforts, Disaster Response Services, and North America Ministry Team. Of his 40-plus years of service, the last 17 have been as World Renew U.S. Director.
Among the many related voluntary or elected positions that he has held in the course of his career in addition to his work with World Renew, Ryskamp has most recently served as the Board Chair of the Accord Network in Washington D.C. and the U.K.-based Integral Alliance. He worked to increase World Renew’s influence among international Christian organizations and humanitarian networks in addition to expanding the work of World Renew during his time as agency director.
Ryskamp has ably shepherded the organization through many changes, challenges, and celebrations over decades of servant-hearted and spirit-led leadership. At the agency’s 50th anniversary in 2012, he guided the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) through the process of changing its much-beloved name to World Renew. The change process, though difficult at times, has resulted in a more accurate presentation of the organization’s work today among the 30 to 40 developing countries where it is known for excellence and effectiveness in Christian community development and disaster response. “I have indeed been humbled by all the recognition for simply doing what God has laid on my heart to do,” said Ryskamp. “Ministry to those in need is at the heart of the Gospel. It is meant to transform both the intended recipient and the benefactor. The recognition of ministry accomplished is a praise offering to God. It is the Body of Christ recognizing that together we are addressing the things that break God’s heart and so also ours.”
In World Renew’s integrated approach to addressing poverty and hunger on a global basis, Ryskamp has been devoted to a unique focus, working through local Christian churches and outreach organizations to help people recognize their God-given dignity and build on the resources that already exist in their communities. The transformation that results in people’s lives can move them away from extreme poverty and the oppression and injustice that accompany it to the life of fulfillment and abundance that God created us for.
“I praise God for how those that the world considers poor have touched my life and faith, and also the life and faith of our churches and supporters.”
Although Ryskamp isn’t sure what all is next in his own, post-retirement life, he would like to continue serving the church at some level.
“In ministry family and friends are critical. A worldwide ministry of disaster response and community development requires travel, and there is a cost to that. The sacrifice of my family, accommodating an accumulation of approximately 10 years of nights away from home, is a gift from them I will always carry as a debt to be repaid. The accountability and prayers from friends and church family remains a source of motivation and encouragement. You cannot do this journey alone.”
World Renew and the Christian Reformed Church celebrate Andrew Ryskamp for his years of service to his Lord, to World Renew, and to the denomination. His legacy is one of dedication and faithfulness that is visible in the changed lives of countless individuals and communities around the world.