Life and Ministry of Ronald (Ron) Van Hee
Ronald (Ron) John Van Hee was born April 21, 1934 in Great Falls, Montana. He was the son of Louis and Edith (Spoon) Van Hee and had one younger brother, LeRoy. He attended schools in Spokane, WA and Lewistown, Montana and graduated from Fergus County High School in Lewistown in 1952.
Ron started playing every sport he could at an early age. In high school, he was an all-state athlete in football, basketball, track, baseball and softball. He played football in the East-West Shrine Game, set records in track, and received a full sports scholarship to the University of Montana which he attended for two years. He stayed active in sports most of his life, playing American Legion baseball, pitching softball in the army, at Bob Jones University and in city leagues. He still worked out at the gym until he was in his mid-eighties. When not playing sports, he worked for a grocery store, at a freight company, the railroad, as a “soda-jerk”, as a surveyor for the U.S. government and fought forest fires for the Forest Service.
His sophomore year in college, he began to wonder what purpose his life had. Ron decided to join the Army in 1954. After basic training, he was sent to Idar-Oberstein, Germany where he was in the Security Police and guarded the depot through which supplies traveled to Korea. He was there two and one-half years and visited thirteen different countries on leave time.
Ron was raised in church, was active in various Christian organizations, and taught Sunday School. He appeared to be a Christian but was really trusting in his own goodness. When a buddy encouraged him to attend Bob Jones University when he was discharged, he thought “Why not? Maybe I will go into Christian service.” In the Fall of 1957, he became a student at Bob Jones University. It was there he recognized he was a sinner and trusted Christ as his Savior. He graduated in Jan. 1960 with degree in Religion.
His first Sunday at BJU he met Janis Polsley. They were married Aug. 21, 1959 in Denver, CO. They not only shared a zeal for serving God, but both loved people, loved children, the outdoors and outdoor activities, good literature and more. Their love has endured for almost 65 years (married almost 63 and dated two). They have two children, Kimberly and Timothy, and three grandchildren, Bethany, Timothy and Cassandra Wallace. Ron loved his family deeply and always took time for them.
After college graduation, he attended Denver Univ. for some medical training—in case God called them to the mission field. God called him instead to be youth pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Connersville, Ind., where he taught and led the teenagers and could hold the attention of 200 children in Children’s church. (He had been trained by working two summers with Neighborhood Bible Time.) He also served on the Indiana Governor’s Youth Council.
In 1962 he became pastor at Pear Park Baptist Church in Grand Junction, Co. While there, he got the church financially stable, helped it grow its attendance and led it out of the Conservative Baptist Convention. He then pastored the First Baptist Church in Elkhart, KS. and Fellowship Baptist in Garden City, KS, again seeing them stabilize and grow. He built active youth and children’s ministries.
In 1976, he was led to pastor a young church plant in Rock Springs, WY which was on the edge of “Mormon territory” and was pretty much run by the mafia. The family had some interesting adventures in this “wild west”, mining and oil/gas town the first few years they were there. But under Ron’s leadership, Grace Baptist Church saw literally hundreds of people put their faith in Jesus Christ and grow into soul-winning Christians. A thirty-year building loan was paid off in eight years and building improvements made. Young people dedicated their lives to serve God and are on mission fields or in pastorates today. The church survived “boom and bust” cycles, but each time members moved, others were trained to take their place. Ron pastored at Grace Baptist Church thirty-five years.
Ron’s love for young people, as well as the outdoors, carried over to an investment in camp work every where he lived. He was willing to do anything from kitchen duty to being camp director. He served on the board of directors for Red Cliff Bible Camp for many years. He also served on various boards and committees including Northwest Baptist Missions, Independent Bible Baptist Mission, and International Congress of World Evangelism. While pastoring in Rock Springs he had a television program entitled: “The Bible Speaks.”
Ron was passionate about missions. He not only supported Missionary work personally but taught the churches he pastored to give generously to various mission works—with finances, encouragement and hospitality. Though in his early years in the ministry, he sometimes held evangelistic meetings for other churches, he began to switch primarily to mission conferences. He preached about missions in many states and some foreign countries. He often said, “Missions is the heart of God. God only had one Son and He sent him to be a missionary and share the news of salvation.”
Ron was invited to preach at Christian colleges, Bible Conferences, camps, etc. He made mission trips to Brazil, Mexico, Canada and England. He loved to preach God’s Word and took advantage of every opportunity to do so. But he also loved sharing God’s Word personally and looked for opportunities to hand out gospel tracts and verbally share the good news of salvation, person to person.
After fifty years in the ministry and thirty-five years at Grace Baptist in Rock Springs, Wyo., Ron resigned in 2010 as pastor of the church. In 2013, he and Jan relocated to Grand Junction, CO.
But Ron and Jan had given their whole lives to God, and they had more life to give. It seemed only natural that they would go into mission work. They became associate missionaries with Northwest Baptist Mission. Ron filled pulpits and held meetings for the mission churches. He was also contacted by Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry requesting that he be field representative in the western states, educating churches on Islam and how to reach the Muslim world for Christ. He and Jan spent the next ten years traveling in a dual ministry until their health began to fail.
In 2019, Ron learned he had cancer and started to battle with it. He turned his focus to reaching the medical profession with the gospel while staying as active as possible in Pear Park Baptist Church. He and Jan started a new senior adult ministry in the church in April. His Savior called Ron to his eternal home on Sunday, July 31, 2022. This humble man who endeavored to put Christ first in everything was no doubt Welcomed Home with the words of our Savior, “Well done, Thou good and faithful servant.”
Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Louis and Edith (Spoon) Van Hee and his bother LeRoy Van Hee.
Ron is survived by his wife Janis (Polsley) Van Hee, his daughter Kimberly (Bryan) Wallace, son Timothy (Tina) Van Hee, 3 grandchildren Bethany Wallace, Timothy Wallace, and Cassandra Wallace.
Memorial service is to be held at Pear Park Baptist Church, August 5, 2022, at 11:00 A.M., 3102 E Road, Grand Junction, CO 81504.
Private Military ceremony and interment at Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery on Wednesday, August 10, 2022.
In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to be made to:
Northwest Baptist Mission, P.O. Box 150, Grantsville, UT 74029
Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry, P.O. Box 468, Dracut, MA 01826