Just before summer this year, TWR lost a great friend and collaborator with the passing of Odin van Woerdekom. Sometime after we got word of his homegoing, we also learned of beautiful tributes expressed in his memory by our colleagues at TWR Kenya. We wanted to share a few of these memories and honor our late friend here on the TWR website.
By Birgit Billau, special contributor to twr.org
Odin van Woerdekom’s TWR colleagues and proteges in Africa are fondly remembering the “energetic, gray-haired” Dutchman who will no longer be lugging radio equipment thousands of miles to help build their gospel ministry.
After more than 25 years of dedicated service as a volunteer for TWR Netherlands, the highly admired and appreciated van Woerdekom passed on to spend eternity with his Lord in May 2021, just a few months short of his 80th birthday. He is sorely missed by his many friends, family and co-workers both in Africa and the Netherlands.
With a previous work history rooted in high-level electronics and nuclear equipment, he was involved in several TWR projects, mostly in Africa and particularly in Kenya. These included setting up antenna systems, hooking up studios and installing FM transmitters, as well as working as a studio technician back home in the Netherlands.
This “king-size technician,” as a former colleague and close friend described van Woerdekom, was always excellent at establishing the correct diagnosis for problems and then implementing the best solutions, often on a low budget. He always seemed to be brimming with energy and enthusiasm, and although he was a methodical technician, he was also a very creative thinker. For instance, he once constructed a complete radio studio destined for Africa inside a shipping container. The only thing left to organize was the transportation!
“God brought Odin to us at a very difficult time in our ministry,” says Bernice Gatere, executive director of TWR Kenya, which operates the seven-station SIFA FM network. “We had just started the setting up of our FM stations with little technical know-how. A big part of the help came packaged in one man, and his name was Odin. He would become a household name in TWR Kenya.”
Van Woerdekom became God’s chosen vessel to help TWR Kenya set up FM stations in remote and sometimes dangerous parts of Kenya, Gatere said. Beginning in 2009, he made numerous trips carrying various pieces of equipment by road, air and sea to ensure that the gospel-broadcasting stations went on and stayed on air.
“We would not have been able to do this work without his dedication and sacrifice facilitated by TWR Netherlands,” she adds. “Even a bandit attack on the road to Lodwar did not deter him from returning again and again. He worked tirelessly with our young technical team and producers teaching them the ropes and tricks of broadcasting.”
Odin, as he was known to virtually everyone, was special to all the people he came across and worked with. When Gatere shared news of his homegoing with his colleagues in Kenya, several sent notes of detailing great memories and paying tribute.
“He was kind, jovial, and though gone, we will remember all he did,” recounted Carol Kinuthia of Hekima FM.
Colleagues expressed that van Woerdekom was passionate about his ministry work and that he was a humble, dedicated man. He was also cheery and funny, recognizable as the “energetic, gray-haired man.”
In the words of Wycliffe Masinde of Maata FM, Odin’s passing represents the loss of “a very resourceful person who dedicated his life to serving this ministry.”
He will be remembered as a great friend, mentor and teacher in the technical field. His workmanship will always be seen and felt in most of the SIFA FM stations. His contribution to production studio editing and FM setup will continue to transform many lives for the cause of Christ.
Odin was faithful in “contributing his bit to ensure the gospel of Jesus Christ was broadcast in the best possible quality,” wrote Pamela Omwodo, SIFA FM general manager. He was known for his calmness, as well as being a practical believer who prayed before he began his work and after he was done with setting up.
True to the spirit of the man, even in these difficult times, his wife and three children still cling to their family credo found in Psalm 118:29, that “God is good.”
“It is hard to believe he will not be coming back for yet another mission to one of our stations,” declares Gatere. “In all this we are so grateful for his life and that God brought him our way.”