On Thursday, May 7 John DeHaan, former Executive Director of World Renew, passed into glory dearly loved and deeply missed.

John served as World Renew’s Executive Director from 1978 to 1998, back when the organization was still known as the CRWRC. Trained as a therapist, he brought two driving passions to his work: coming alongside those who experienced suffering and equipping the church to live out its mission in concrete ways.

As the U.S. Executive Director, John quickly gained a reputation for persistence and tenacity, growing World Renew into a thriving team that knew how to manage resources and measure impact. At his core, John understood that outcome-oriented processes could change the story of poverty, which is why he dedicated his time at World Renew to setting up strong systems for planning, evaluation, supervision, and building the capacity of local ministry partners. His vision has transformed the influence and scope of World Renew around the globe.

Those who served with John were deeply shaped by him, discovering new ways to share the hope of Jesus Christ with the world. Tom Post, former Ministry Team Leader for World Renew, says simply, “John was a mentor to me.”

Ever Kingdom-minded, John came alongside those who longed to bring the light of Christ to the world and taught them not only how to strike a match but also how to share their flame.

While his family and friends could not gather together at his graveside, they drew near each other over the weekend at Calvin College, creating a physically distanced but relationally dear space to remember John and celebrate his life. Members of World Renew staff cherished the chance to join in that celebration of our leader, mentor, and friend.

To John’s wife Alice, and to his family, we hold you close in our hearts. As we honor all the world gained through the courage and life of John, we also grieve what each of you have lost. May God bring you peace even as you feel the pain that speaks to how deeply you loved and were loved by John.

To the larger community, John hoped that instead of flowers, those who want to send a gift will direct it to Potter’s House, a beautiful organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where John and Alice lived. Potter’s House exists so children of every income level, background, ethnicity, and heritage can receive a Christ-centered education and reach their full potential.


To honor John, you can give to Potter’s House below.

Thank you for remembering him with us.

Give to Potter’s House