Grand Rapids, Michigan
I was born in 1953 as the third and final child of John and Elizabeth Kooyman in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My parents were Dutch immigrants who came to the U.S. shortly after World War II. I grew up in Grand Rapids attending both public and Christian schools—graduating from Grand Rapids (East) Christian HS in 1972. I then attended Reformed Bible College (now Kuyper College) in GR and earned a bachelor's degree in religious education (B.R.E.) with a major in Bible and Theology and a minor is Social Work.
After college, my wife Debbie and I moved to Denver to live and work with adolescent boys who had been removed from their homes by the court. During that time I attended Denver Seminary—known then as Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary. Following two years in Denver, we moved back to the Grand Rapids area where I served a local RCA congregation (Corinth Reformed) as Minister of Youth and Education for about two years. I continued my seminary education part-time at Calvin Theological Seminary for the next 3-4 years. During that time I became the Executive Director of Degage Ministries, a ministry primarily with homeless individuals in the Heartside Neighborhood of downtown Grand Rapids.
It was during my time with Degage that I came to realize that I was not called to pastoral ministry within the institutional church. I believed my gifts were in more in the areas of administration and leadership. So, to that end, I began graduate studies in management at Aquinas College in GR, then transferred to Western Michigan University where I completed an M.A. in Educational Leadership.
From 1987 - 1994 I served as a Campus Dean and then Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Jordan College based in Cedar Springs, Michigan. The college eventually closed in 1995 following years of financial difficulties.
After leaving the college, I served as the President/CEO of Tall Turf Ministries, a Christian urban youth ministry with a mission focused on racial reconciliation. I held this position from 1994 - 2013.