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Rev. Steven Houck

Rev. Steven Houck, the son of Merton Hilmer Houck and Jessie Elizabeth Houck, was born on January 31, 1948. His mother’s maiden name was Line. He was born in Cloquet, Minnesota, and grew up in Cromwell, Minnesota, which is a country town about 40 miles west of Duluth, Minnesota.

As he was growing up, Rev. Houck attended Eagle Lake Grade School and Cromwell High School. After high school, he attended Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, and Bellvue College in Bellvue, Nebraska, which is next to Omaha. He also had two years of pre-seminary at our seminary in Grandville, Michigan.

When Rev. Houck was a teenager, he attended a public school, so he faced many temptations to live like the world. Many in his class drank, smoked and caroused around. Dirty language was common. Someone was always pushing around someone who was smaller than he. Rev. Houck sees that these things are the same temptations facing young people today. A young person has to make up his or her mind whether he or she is going to live as a Christian or not. Rev. Houck says that it will mean standing out in a crowd. You will not be popular, but that is our calling as Christians.

As he was growing up, Rev. Houck’s hobbies included going bird and deer hunting and fishing often. He also liked to play chess. He still goes hunting and fishing now and then. He usually plays a game or two of chess on Christmas and Thanksgiving. He also likes to spend time on his computer.

While he was a student at Grace Bible Institute, Rev. Houck met Carolyn Joyce Riezanstein, who was from Scottsbluff, Nebraska. They courted for about a year and were married on May 17, 1969. The Lord blessed them with six children: Elizabeth, Sarah, Joel, Nathaniel, Jeremy and Daniel. Rev. and Mrs. Houck had many happy times together with their children. Next to spiritual things, children are the greatest blessing God gives to believers. The Houcks were married for 32 1/2 years. Mrs. Houck died on December 26, 2001, at the age of 56. Rev. Houck and his children miss her very much, but they know she is with her Lord and in perfect happiness.

When he was only nine years old, Rev. Houck began to think about the ministry. At that time his father died, and he began to think seriously about life, death and God. His father’s death made him realize that there was another life after this life, a heaven and hell, and that the life to come was the most important. When he was a junior and senior in high school, he felt God calling him to be a minister. God gave him a love of the Holy Scriptures. Rev. Houck would spend hours every day reading and studying his Bible. One of the books which God used to call him to the ministry was the book, “Through Gates of Splendor,” written by Elizabeth Elliot. This book is about the missionary labors of her husband, Jim Elliot, and his martyrdom. God used this biography to give Rev. Houck a desire to give his life for the gospel.

Besides the experiences He gave Rev. Houck while he was growing up, God also prepared him for the ministry through his Bible school training. This training gave him an understanding of God’s Word. Most of all, he values his seminary training where he learned about expounding Holy Scripture and preaching. God used everything in Rev. Houck’s life to prepare him for the ministry. Every person he has known, every experience he has had, in one way or another was part of his training.

When they heard of his desire to enter seminary, Rev. Houck’s family, especially his mother, was very happy. They knew that the ministry is a very high calling and that it is a great privilege for a young man to be called of God to serve Him in His kingdom. Since Rev. Houck attended a public school, his peers did not care one way or another about his desire for the ministry. They did not care about spiritual things, and they mocked and ridiculed him and the few others who were Christians.

Regarding the most memorable event of his years in seminary, Rev. Houck says he cannot remember one event that stands out above all others. He does remember that he greatly enjoyed the study of God’s Word and learning new things. This helped him grow spiritually. Most of all, he was impressed with how faithful God was to him and his family. Even though he had a wife and children and his time was very limited, God saw to it that he could finish his lessons, write his papers, read the outside reading, study for exams and still spend time with his wife and children. They were very dependent upon the Lord for everything, and the Lord never failed them. The Lord was always there and gave them what they needed spiritually and physically. Those were days when the Lord drew them very close to Him.

After he was ordained in 1979, Rev. Houck became a missionary. His first charge was in East Lansing, Michigan, and his second charge was Modesto, California. He has been the pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, Illinois for 12 years. This is his first pastorate. He loves the work of being a pastor, but he also misses the work of the missionary. He is thankful to God that He has given him the privilege of doing both kinds of work.

Regarding the teaching of children in catechism, Rev. Houck loves teaching both the younger children in grade school and the older children in high school. It is a wonderful thing for him to see the children grow up in the Lord. Having been at Peace PRC for 12 years, he has taught some of the young people ever since they were in the first grade. He considers them to be his children. He rejoices when he sees them make confession of faith and he is happy for them when he sees that they are sincere about believing and loving the truth. When they struggle with difficulties and face hardships, he sorrows with them. It also brings him much joy to witness young children coming to understand certain truths for the first time. Sometimes the young children bring a little humor into his life. Their misconceptions about certain things bring a smile to his face.

As a minister, it is most rewarding for Rev. Houck to witness a member of the congregation who had gone astray come back to the truth and to the ways of righteousness. The Lord has given him the opportunity to witness this many times. He feels so helpless when a member walks in sin and will not listen to the Word of God. His heart is broken when he sees one of God’s people forsake the Lord. But then God in His grace and mercy turns the sinner around and brings him to repentance so that he returns to the right way. This makes a pastor realize that God’s grace is an almighty power that can do anything. All the work the pastor and elders do is not in vain. The Lord uses their feeble efforts to build His Church.

Even though he is a middle-aged pastor, Rev. Houck does not have any memories of the two major controversies which we faced as churches. He did not even know about the PRC until just before 1974 when he and his family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, from Minneapolis and joined Hope PRC. He has studied the controversies of 1924 and 1953, and is convinced that the issues involved are very important. He says that as churches we must not abandon our heritage. We must be faithful in our rejection of common grace and the free offer of the gospel. We also must stand firm in our view of a sovereign unconditional covenant that God establishes with His elect people in Christ. These doctrines are dear to Rev. Houck. They are the reason why he joined the PRC. He was raised a Methodist and was for a time a fundamentalist, but he became Reformed, specifically Protestant Reformed, because he believes the Reformed faith over against all others to be the truth of God’s Word.

Rev. Houck has fond memories of the love that was shown to him and his family by the Hope congregation in Walker, Michigan. They started attending Hope Church when they moved to Grand Rapids from Minnesota and eventually became members there. They were received with open arms. There was always a place to go for Sunday coffee and Sunday evening. Their calendar was full for months. People were kind to them and helped them in many different ways. Whenever Rev. Houck runs across someone who falsely accuses the PRC of not being friendly, he points out this experience. No outsider could have been received better. It made them realize that the PRC not only had the Truth, but they also manifested their love for the Truth in their lives.

To young men who are considering the ministry of the Word to be their calling, Rev. Houck has this advice: “Every young man ought to consider the ministry. He ought to recognize that there is no higher calling and that the rewards of this calling are great. Not financially, but spiritually. If a young man is to consider this calling, he must love God’s Word, because a minister must spend a great deal of time in God’s Word. He ought to love to study the Scriptures. He also ought to feel a burden to bring God’s Word to others. The truth of Scripture ought to be so important to him that he must tell others.”

Concerning the thinking, attitudes, and behavior of the young people, Rev. Houck says that they, like the adults are greatly affected by the wicked world around us. We are too materialistic. We dress too much like the world. We have too much interest in fun and games. Living the antithetical life that is described in the Bible is the greatest struggle for young people and adults. Too many people call themselves Christians but live like unbelievers.

Rev. Houck is encouraged by our young people’s faith in and love of God’s Word. He has seen young people show great interest in the Truth and yearn to learn more about it. They are eager to discuss doctrine and want to know what to believe about things. They are willing to be mocked and ridiculed for their faith. They stand up for the Truth when they know it will bring them persecution. Unlike some adults, they do not want to be hypocrites. They would rather come out with their unrighteousness than to pretend to be what they are not.