Tuesday 29 September 2020

The Gift of Hendrik Hart

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them….
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
—Matthew 6: 1-5

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.”
—Luke 8: 16-17

If you take a brief walk through the University of Toronto St. George campus, you will notice many buildings named after wealthy Toronto philanthropists. With Matthew 6 in mind, I often ponder the role that such personal recognition plays in these philanthropic efforts. Without knowing these people personally, I like to think that their motivation for giving does not rely on receiving such recognition, but rather that they want their giving to become a kind of public witness to the worthiness of the causes they support. In a similar way, we Christians, through our giving, may also bear witness to the worthiness of those causes we believe make a powerful contribution to our Maker’s redemptive work, and inspire others “to join us.” For such witness to be possible, however, the private act of charity needs to come into public light.

In this spirit, I would like to introduce a major gift that ICS recently received from Hendrik Hart, ICS Senior Member Emeritus and also ICS’s first faculty member. The context is poignant: Henk has been waging a battle with cancer for over 20 years. This past summer, he made the difficult decision to stop further cancer treatment, and instead enter into palliative care. At this point in his life Henk has decided to make a gift of $100,000 while he is still with us and to share with others his motivation for making such a gift, and tell us why he thinks ICS is a cause worth supporting. We at ICS are enormously grateful to Henk for this generous gift, and beyond that we thank him for his lifetime of service to ICS, and praise God for the gift of that life.

In agreeing to a public announcement of his donation, Henk invites you to read in his own words what motivated him to make this donation.

Be well, friends!

Ronald A. Kuipers

* * *

Why did I make a substantial end-of-life donation to ICS?

By Hendrik Hart

My earliest connection to what eventually became ICS goes back more than 60 years. I was a student then at what is now Calvin University and philosophy professor H. Evan Runner set out a spiritual direction in his teaching that I felt called to follow. I am now a Senior Member Emeritus at the institution that was Runner’s dream when I first took a class with him in January of 1956. And I still follow the spiritual direction he taught me, the same direction that has animated ICS from its beginning and still inspires it today. My end-of-life donation says thank you for this.

ICS was never simply a place of employment for me. Instead, it was the setting for my life, filled with challenges and blessings. There were periods of hardship, sometimes related to making ends meet, sometimes having to do with conflicts. But these times of stress did not tempt me to abandon my commitment to this unique community of scholars. Students and colleagues became lifelong friends. Our common bond was our focus on the spiritual roots of understanding our world. My end-of-life donation says thank you for this.

ICS has always been small and likely always will be. A free standing academic institution is not cut out to grow into the size of a university. But though small, a place like ICS can be significant. Canadian universities recognize this in their admiration for ICS. When colleagues from these universities read ICS theses as outside examiners, they usually express their amazement that a small underfunded and understaffed school can deliver results at such a high level. My end-of-life donation says thank you for this.

ICS is unusual not only in the quality of its work but also, and perhaps even more, in the character of that work. A graduate school with a focus on the spirituality of the academic enterprise does not easily fit into the prevailing secular mood of our age. That’s another reason for ICS’s small size. But it’s also a reason for how well it is respected and for why its graduates are teaching all over the world. ICS not only strives to maintain its academic excellence, but also its spiritual integrity. My end-of-life donation says thank you for this.