Johanna deVal Molenaar - Christian Heroes
Across Pacific Magazine

Johanna deVal Molenaar

July 5, 1922January 2, 2007

Joseph WW11From her humble beginnings in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, she survived the horrible occupation of the Japanese in WW11 – even though her fiancée didn’t survive. And she survived the Indonesian war of Independence, torn, with so many family and friends on both sides of the conflict. Johanna is indeed a survivor. She survived the long trip by ship from her homeland in tropical Indonesia, to the cold and unfamiliar shores of Europe, in The Netherlands. She survived the ordeal of childbirth, even though not all the babies survived.

(Picture: Joseph - Dutch military, and Johanna - 1950.)

Johanna not only survived some amazing obstacles, she learned how to live. Raised in the Dutch Reformed Church with her 5 siblings, she was the one who was known by family and friends as "the Hohanna deVal Molenaarreligious one”. She was drawn to the more evangelical services at the Salvation Army, thanks to her Aunt or Tante Neel in Surabaya. But Johanna claimed her “new birth” took place some years later when she publicly went forward to receive Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade in Holland.

Though she had lived all her life in the tropical heat of Indonesia, she learned she could survive in the bitter cold of The Netherlands. But she and her dear husband, Joseph or Joopie, both longed for the warmer weather. (BTW – Joseph IS still with us. He’s just not with us enough to be here with us.) Anyway, Johanna and Joseph prayed and kept their eyes open for the right opportunity to move to a better place – their Promise Land. After about ten years in Holland, the Lord answered their prayers and they were sponsored by the Pleasant Valley Baptist church in Camarillo, California. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Jonathan & Oma

Jonathan and Leilani, two of Johanna’s grandchildren, will share some tributes, followed by the reading Bryan and Leilaniof one of Johanna’s favourite scriptures, the 23rd Psalm.

Leilani did a beautiful dance / hula to the music of "Cover Me".

Jonathan and his Oma - Johanna)

(Picture:  Bryan & Leilani.         


My Dad went to be with the Lord nearly 22 years ago. One of the things he was known for was putting together, publishing and distributing a booklet called Singtime Gospel Choruses. It was used by  churches across
America. I was looking through it last night and noticed this chorus called: We’re sailing home. The words are simple and illustrate both the journey and the destination,

We’re sailing home, we’re sailing home.
Oh won’t you come on board, Our pilot is the Lord;
We’re sailing home, we’re sailing home,
To the land of endless day.

Another one in that chorus book speaks even more graphically of the promise Jesus gave us:

I’ve got a mansion, Just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old.
And some day yonder, we will never more wander,
But walk on streets that are purest gold.

Johanna is finally home. She’s in a much better place. You and I have a ways to go.

Lydia has more to say about the home part. She will also be sharing some words from her brother, Arthur, in California.


Mom – 5 January 2007

Thank you all for coming to support us during our time of loss and grief. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you especially to Pamela Rye who stood faithfully with me over the years in the personal care of Mom. Thank you Pamela for lovingly serving Mom over the many years for what you have done for His child you have done unto Him. Thank you to the many of you who took time to chat with Mom and also pray with her. I know she was deeply moved and greatly appreciated it.

Lydia read the following from Art:

ArtMom you have run a good race and finished the course.  Wow, God is so awesome that He has allowed you to spend so much time on earth to keep an eye on your kids and grandkids and even a great-grand child.  God was very gracious to have me able to come to New Zealand a couple of months ago to spend some time with you and dad.  It was a real blessing to be with you two.  The full impact of you being gone will come and go through out the year. I know you will be thrilled to be in the presence of the King of Kings.  Where you have taught Lydia and me to be at all times.  What a heritage you gave me and my family, not only with your good cooking but with your love for Jesus.  Because of that love you will be missed by both Teri and I, William and Alicia, James and his soon to be wife Aimee.  Your prayers for my kids are very evident by the life they live.  They all love the Lord and strive to make Jesus their Lord. One of the things I will always remember will be your endless back scratches to me from childhood to adulthood.  I will always be grateful for you mom. I love you and miss you so much that words cannot describe.  You will not be forgotten by the family you have left behind. - Your son, Arthur Molenaar


Home was always a very important place to Mom. You could tell she took pride in her home by the way she decorated it, kept it clean like a good Dutch woman, also by the wonderful healthy meals she cooked and yummy cakes and cookies she often baked. The kitchen was truly her domain. Our home is where my brother and I made Johanna and Lydiathe most of our wonderful and precious memories… we were not only taught the ways of God but we had it modeled thru our parents who lived it. She enjoyed giving hospitality to all who came into our home.

About 5 ½ years ago, after much prayer with my family, I brought Mom and Dad over from the States to NZ. It was an absolute honor for me to care for them. God blessed them with 56 years of marriage. When they were married 47 years we did not think they would make it to their 50th but God more than answered our prayers. I cared for both of them about 3 years in our home until I couldn’t provide the safety net to care for both. I had to make the tough, agonizing and painful decision to put Dad in a home due to his Parkinson’s dementia. Mom, on the other hand did not want to go there. No way! With the loving support of my husband and children we all took part in the care of Mom and frequent visits to Dad. There is no possible way I could have done it without them! I would like to think that we have become the ‘dream team’. While living with us for 5 ½ years Mom always talked about going home.

In July of 2006 on her 84th birthday she ended up being at Middlemore Hospital with a G.I. bleed, instead of the planned luncheon we had for her. That day would be the beginning of several more trips she would make to the hospital. The dr. pulled us aside and told us that we were looking at about 24 to 36 Johanna and Josiahhours left with her. We all said our good-byes to her because we believed that she was going home! She was so ready! Yet amazingly she pulled thru and was sent home. You see, I believe God still desired to bless Mom while here on earth. For a starter, she got to meet and hold her first great grandchild, Josiah, who was born the end of August. In October she had quality time with her son, Arthur, for 3 weeks.  In December she celebrated Christmas with us and got to open up all of her presents filled with her favorite things: clothes and chocolates!!!

She even stuck around to welcome in the New Year 2007. In fact, she peeled all of our pistachio nuts for me so I could enjoy them the next day after she was gone!!! That’s my mom!!! 

(Picture: Johanna and great-grandson, Josiah)

Saphy Josiah and Johanna

I had the privilege of being with her at her coronation and transition into glory. One day we will have a glorious reunion that is our hope we have as Christians.

Mom was a woman of faith and prayer and passionate about her God whom she served with all her heart and much joy.  Her legacy will continue to live on in her kids, grandkids, great grandkids and the generations to come.

(Picture: Sapphire, Josiah and Johanna)

I can hear her saying now:

“I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith,
Now there is in store for me,
A crown of righteousness.”  II Timothy 4:7-8

To which I believe God responded:

“Well done good and faithful servant! Matt 25:23

Mom has reached her final destination. She is HOME!!!


Song – One of Johanna’s favourite songs is just a simple chorus. I think it would be good if we stood together and sang it. It’s called “He’s All I Need”. Will you stand with me? I’ll give you the words, there's only four: He’s all I need, He’s all I need, Jesus is all I need. He’s all I need He’s all I need. Jesus is all I need. Let’s sing it together.

I think it would be good for us to do what Johanna did on many occasions, that is to make this simple song a prayer. We can do that by just changing the words slightly to: You’re all I need. It’s not only a prayer; it’s a statement of commitment. We could lose things. We could lose precious relationships. We could loose all our money or even a limb, or even part of our mind. But the reality is, if we have Jesus, that’s all we really need. Will you open your heart and make the same commitment that Johanna made so many times? Let’s sing it to Him, You’re all I need.

We’re going to conclude with a song, by one of Johanna’s favourite musical artists, our friend, Andrae’ Crouch. Sorry he's not able to be here in person. The name of the song is: The Power of Your Love. As we listen, open your heart, and let the Power of His Love minister to your spirit.

Closing prayer: Pastor David Walker

1.      Please join us for some tea and coffee.

2.      Burial is scheduled for 3:45 at Manukau Memorial Gardens. You’re all welcome to come, but you’re not obligated to. It will be very short, with a closing prayer by Peter Kim.


As we’ve already heard today Johanna had a lot of good qualities. Let me share briefly about three of them:

Johanna was a giver. She gave and gave. And she taught her kids to give. She gave so much that I think eventually her kids decided they ought to do a little screening of their Mom’s mail, because of all the appeal letters that were coming. I think they eventually concluded Mom didn’t always know how to say no.

Prayer Warrior– I lost track of the number of times I heard Lydia tell about how she and her brother decided they better behave, because they could hear Johanna in the bedroom, on her knees, crying out to God for Lydia and Arthur. Storming heaven. Somehow that helped put the “fear of the Lord” in both of them. And both of them have done quite a job staying on the “straight and narrow” path. Thanks Johanna, for being a prayer warrior.

She also had a missionary heart. She introduced all 5 of her siblings to the Lord. Some times she would even go door-to-door in the neighbourhood, to tell people about Jesus. She prayed for years that God would use her children as missionaries. And when God answered those prayers and sent her daughter to Samoa , Indonesia and Singapore, Hawaii… and even way down under to the Land of the Great White Cloud - New Zealand, Johanna released her and blessed her and even helped support her.

Three qualities Johanna had, that probably we all could use a bit more of: Giver, Prayer Warrior and a heart for seeing people reached for Christ, whether it’s across the street or across the world. It’s time to close this chapter. It’s not over for Oma. We rejoice and celebrate her graduation. We’ve been so blessed by her. Now it’s time for us to be a blessing to as many others as we can. Another song she loved:

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus
Life’s trials will seem so small,
When we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face,
All sorrow will erase.
So bravely run the race
Till we meet Christ.

Saphy’s Grandma requested we sing How Great Thou Art in the Maori language. She did beautifully; we followed along, some singing in English, Lydia in Dutch, some in Samoan... Peter Kim closed in prayer in Korean. We all put a flower on the casket and said our goodbyes. Then the casket was lowered. At the suggestion of the funeral director we sang He Lives, Christ Jesus Lives Today. Then we enjoyed fellowship before being ushered off the property.

J & J in Hawaii

Because He Lives

1. God sent His Son - they called Him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

2. How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because Christ lives.


3. And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory - and I'll know He lives.


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