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Monday, 7 October 2013

Willi-who?

This image was taken from www.vultus.stblogs.org 
On Saturday I became acquainted with someone from church history I knew little about, all because of a visit to a credit union.  My husband and I were looking for information about how a credit union might meet our banking needs.  During our meeting we found out that the original name of this particular financial group was “St. Willibrord Credit Union.”  Even more surprising to us was that it had been started by Dutch immigrants in Southwestern Ontario (Canada) in 1951.
   I thought I knew all the big names in Dutch history: Dr. Abraham Kuyper, William of Orange, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Rembrandt van Rijn, Guido De Brès.  Now I had to go back much further to understand why people of my ethnic origin would choose an unpronounceable name for an institution they were founding. 
   St. Willibrord was actually born in England during the 7th century A.D.  After being trained at a monastery in Ireland, he came to the Low Countries as a missionary.  Earlier the Dutch and Frisians had resisted the missionary efforts of the Franks, and they remained worshippers of Wodan[1] (our day of the week “Wednesday” comes from this god).  Through great courage and perseverance, Willibrord showed the people of the Netherlands that Jesus Christ is greater than their images of stone.  Without Willibrord as the one to lead the people out of paganism, I wonder if any of the other names would have made it into a history book. 
   While his name is hard to say, Willibrord is a link in the chain of God’s providence towards my people.  For that I am grateful.


[1] This information comes out of a book entitled God’s Care and Continuance of His Church, Volume 1 by John Vreugdenhil, translated from Dutch by John Van Grouw, ©1991.

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