Rev. Michael DeVries

God, the Good Shepherd, in His love for His sheep, sent another undershepherd to care for His flock. Michael DeVries was born on a farm in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He was the first child of Vernon and Marilyn DeVries. Already as a young boy, Michael helped his father care for the family flock. He learned that, compared to pigs and cows, sheep require much more care. Sheep are defenseless, and a shepherd must care for all of the sheeps’ needs. Like sheep, people by nature are weak, defenseless, stubborn, foolish, and wayward. Already as a young child, Michael was learning and was preparing to be a shepherd, although later it would not be to his father’s sheep, but to God’s sheep.  

  Michael belonged to Pella Protestant Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa, until it disbanded in 1961. After that, he and his family belonged to the Christian Reformed Church and later the Reformed Church of America. When Michael was a teenager, Pella Protestant Reformed Church restarted. He and his family were thankful to rejoin the Protestant Reformed Churches. Before his early high school years Michael planned to have a career in agriculture, but at about age 15 he started seriously thinking about becoming a minister.    

In 1975, Michael moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to go to seminary. During his seminary years, he attended Southwest Protestant Reformed Church. He started preparing to be a shepherd to God’s people. Another seminary student, Ron Cammenga, introduced Michael to his girlfriend’s sister, Dawn DeJong. After two and a half years, they were married on June 6, 1965. Michael graduated from the seminary in 1978.                                                                                  

Candidate DeVries received his first call from the flock at Southwest Protestant Reformed Church. He accepted and was ordained to the ministry on Reformation day in 1978. God blessed him with four children during these years. Rev. DeVries enjoyed preaching at Southwest because he was able to be the minister in a familiar church, the church his wife Dawn had grown up in, and the church he had belonged to while in seminary. 

Rev. DeVries was called to serve in the Protestant Reformed Church of Edgerton, Minnesota from 1985-1995. The church in Edgerton was a small congregation in a farming community. Rev. DeVries loved being the shepherd of a small flock. It reminded him of his hometown in Iowa where he had grown up. 

In 1995, Rev. DeVries took the call to First Protestant Reformed Church of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and nine years later he moved to Wingham, Ontario, Canada to serve as pastor there. Being an undershepherd in these Canadian churches was a blessed experience for him because he could serve in a different country.    

In 2010, Rev. DeVries accepted the call and became the shepherd of Kalamazoo Protestant Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was excited to move back to Michigan, where most of his children and grandchildren lived. 

Rev. DeVries retired from the ministry in 2020. He had been a minister for forty-two years in five different congregations. Although he is retired, he is still active in the ministry. He preaches wherever churches need him. 

Rev. DeVries has enjoyed preaching about the Good Shepherd and His sheep. Over the years, he has preached sermons on Psalm 23, the Shepherd Psalm.  In those sermons he makes reference to his boyhood experiences with sheep.  Some other texts regarding sheep and the Shepherd upon which Rev. DeVries has preached are Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray…”; Luke 15:3-7, the parable of the lost sheep; John 10, one of his favorite Bible passages about Jesus as the Good Shepherd; John 21:15-17, where Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep,”; Revelation 5, “…Worthy is the Lamb that was slain…”; and many others. 

 What a blessing and what a serious calling it has been for him to be a minister, who is really an undershepherd of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  Rev. DeVries has been a faithful, loving, patient shepherd to every flock that he has served. Rev. DeVries has always loved Jesus’ words to the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20:28:  “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Rev. DeVries has heeded those words well. He still is and always will be a shepherd.


Archivist’s note:

This article was submitted to a Beacon Lights writing contest, with the prompt to briefly describe the life and service of a Reformed minister who had since retired or gone to glory. The article above was selected as one of the top 5 submissions in its category.