The late Dr Rely Heins pictured with his late wife and lifelong companion, Josie.
Rely Heins was born into a Christian family in Indonesia, which was then still a colony of the Netherlands, called the Dutch East Indies. The son of a Dutch government official, his childhood years were carefree until the age of eleven, when he, as was customary in those days with Dutch colonial families, was left alone in Holland, 8,000 miles away from his parents, sisters, and younger brother. During those impressionable years he experienced great loneliness, but learned very early to be on his own and make his own way in the world.
He escaped the German invasion of Holland in May 1940 as a minor son of a colonial government official by being put on a ship that left Rotterdam before it was bombed by the German air force and sent on a four week’s journey back to his family in Indonesia. There, he was confronted with another war, the war in the Pacific that started with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Dutch government joined the American government in declaring war on Japan, and Dutch officials were taken captive by the Japanese Imperial Army. His father was put into prison where he was tried and executed. Rely and the remaining members of his family spent four and half years in a camp, first as a prisoner of the Japanese, and later, of the Indonesians who were resisting the return of the Dutch colonial government.
Shortly after the execution of his father, the Lord came to young Rely in a strange vision, which he did not at all understand at the time. In the vision, he seemed to be traveling great distances, and he was shown a beautiful valley and a multitude of people and told to, “Speak to those people.” Perplexed, Rely replied, “I cannot speak to those people.” But in the vision he was told, “One day you shall speak to those people.” The fulfillment of this prediction would begin while Rely became a hostage of the Indonesians.
When the war in the Pacific ended there were no allied troops available to land on the island of Java where Rely and so many other men were held prisoners. While they waited to be set free, the Japanese guards transferred their weapons to Indonesians and enabled them to hold the hostages. This is why Rely spent another year in captivity after the end of the war in the Pacific.
It was during this year that Rely’s vision became a reality. He heard one of his fellow prisoners ask, “Is there a minister in our midst who can preach to us the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” Much to his own surprise, Rely responded to this call and he started his life as a preacher of the Gospel, long before he received any academic training for it. If not for the Holy Spirit of God and a miracle that Jesus did in his life, Rely could not have preached as he did that whole year while being a hostage of the Indonesian army. From the time he first stood up, he preached and taught about Jesus Christ to the frightened souls in prison. His captors observed that under the influence of his preaching the prisoners in his compound became more peaceful and manageable than those in other camps, and so they began to transport him, more than once, always in the dark so that he could not know where he was, from camp to camp. His captors just brought him to a dark camp of hostages like himself and said “TALK!” As they heard the message of Jesus, the people became peaceful and more manageable, and that was why the guards allowed Rely to teach.
However, every night, back on his own little mat while everybody else was asleep Rely wept, knowing that the next day he would be forced to preach again, not knowing what he was going to say. He was unable to come up with anything on his own. But there was one Dutch soldier nearby who stayed awake and watched as Rely agonized what to say. He encouraged the despairing young Rely to look up through a crack in the bamboo prison walls to the bright stars in the Indonesian sky. He used to say, “Rely, if God’s arm is strong enough to rule all those stars, is His arm too short to save you?” With those words in his head and in his heart, Rely was able to sleep and to trust that the Holy Spirit would again put the Word in his mouth. That Dutch soldier was also the first one who said to Rely, “You are a man of God.”
A man of God! Rely had never aspired to become a minister. His dream was to be an architect. Architecture was his dream, not to become a minister. Yet, he became a minister of God’s Word.
Eventually, the hostages were exchanged for Indonesian prisoners and families were put back together in a Red Cross camp, where Rely found his mother and his sister and little brother, who had been in captivity in a different camp. After five long years they were prepared for repatriation to Holland. They were ready to board the ship back to Holland when Rely was called to the main gate and introduced to a delegation from the Protestant Church in the Dutch East Indies. These people heard about what he had done while a prisoner and were looking for him to offer him a scholarship to study theology at a seminary in Indonesia. Without hesitation, Rely turned in his Red Cross package with clothes for Europe and went to this seminary from which he received a Masters Degree in Theology.
During that time, Rely was much involved with the World Christian Student Federation and helped establish a branch of it at the University of Djakarta, Indonesia’s capital. The Federation, centered in Geneva, Switzerland, offered Rely a position as one of its regional representatives, requiring of him to give up his Dutch nationality and become an Asian citizen. Rely declined the offer and accepted an offer of a scholarship for post-graduate studies anywhere in the world from the World Council of Churches, also centered in Geneva, Switzerland.
This brought Him to the University of Utrecht in Holland, from where he graduated with a doctoral degree in 1953 in the field of Old Testament studies.
During those years, Rely was very active in World Council of Churches affairs, like conferences and study program and was a frequent guest at Chateau de Bossey, which is the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches at the Lake of Geneva. The Lord enriched him by being among people of many nationalities, speaking many languages. The Lord’s hand soon appeared in Rely’s life.
One day Rely was asked to be the guide for the Secretary of the National Council of Churches in America, and this man said to Rely, “We need someone like you in America.” Responding without hesitation, Rely, with his wife and two young sons, landed in New York City four months later, and from there went on to California, where he began his ministry in America. From 1960 to 1976 Rely was active in church and community affairs in California. During these years, Rely served as a pastor of three Presbyterian Churches there.
However, gradually, he came to feel that his powerful ministry in the prison camps in Indonesia as a simple, humble instrument, who was relying on God’s Holy Spirit, had become a career, a job, which he had been well trained to do. He realized that he was no longer a “man of God”. He had become an institutional man, skilful in the workings of an institutional church, but dry and hungry inside. He could see then, as many others have come to see, that the way things were going in some of the church was not from God. This was not the vision that had come to him in the prison camp, and he prayed for a renewal.
Renewal came, and again Rely began preaching with the fire of the Holy Spirit and became active in the charismatic renewal movement in the Presbyterian Church. He also accepted a call to join the faculty of Melody Land School of Theology in Anaheim, an experimental project to establish a charismatic training center. There, he taught classes in Old Testament theology to more than seven hundred lively, enthusiastic students.
However, that was not the valley he had seen in his vision, and so after two years he was persuaded to settle in Hawaii. The Islands became the base for worldwide teaching ministry, encompassing Europe, Australia, Korea, and Scotland. Ever since leaving the conventional ministry in a denominational church, Rely and his family had a faith-ministry, trusting the Lord to provide for all their needs. In order to make this possible, he established the organization called “Gospel Overseas, Inc. after which this website is called. Having vowed to the Lord to never rely on fund-raising efforts of his own, Gospel Overseas, has never been used for fund raising activities. It has strictly been used as a teaching tool for the promotion of lectures and publications such as the monthly publication “Exodus” which appear in this website.
During the period of uncertainty of the path the Lord had chosen for him, while still in California, Rely prayed for direction and a scripture for guidance. The scripture given to him was Ezekiel 2 and 3. At first this was distressing to Rely and he was shaken, because up until that time he had thought that with his International background and coming from Asia, his ministry would be on the mission field to Asians or to some exotic people somewhere in the Pacific. This scripture in Ezekiel shook him because it seemed God was calling him not to the mission field, to people who were hungry for the gospel and would receive it gladly, but to confront false teachings in the Church, both the traditional and the charismatic Church, where his experiences had prepared him to recognize both. God seemed to be saying that rebellious people in the Church would not listen, but yet he must speak to them and not be afraid, because God would be with him. He knew then that he would meet much opposition and his messages would not be popular in a worldly sense, but if he was a faithful teacher of God’s Word, that God would be faithful to supply all he needed. And this is how it was for the rest of his days in ministry.
Rely Hein’s teaching in Hawaii included well attended all day seminars, retreats, a regular house Church, and numerous adult Sunday morning and afternoon classes at the First Presbyterian Church, where he also preached once a month to the Taiwanese congregation meeting there. He taught Old Testament classes at the Bible Institute of Hawaii, and became a professor to graduate students at the accredited International College and Graduate School in Honolulu.
In addition to a well established group in Scotland, where Rely ministered every summer for many years, he made teaching trips to churches in Australia, Korea, countries of Western Europe and to the underground Church in Eastern Europe during the time of Communist domination.
Until his passing in 2009 Rely continued his ministry to the Church through his messages in the Exodus paper, a monthly publication of Gospel Overseas, which is the non profit organization covering all of the ministries of Dr. Rely Heins. Our goal in this web site is to make available all of these Exodus messages to anyone who is earnestly seeking to know God’s will. These teachings open up a perspective on Scripture that have led many to a surprisingly clearer understanding of its message.
Ezekiel 34:16 “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed. . ."
LOGAN, Utah - Rely Heins, 84, went home to be with his Lord on Nov. 14, 2009. Rely lived his life in service of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Born in Bandung, Indonesia, on July 2, 1925, he traveled many miles during his life following a vision for ministry and teaching that he received as a teenager. He studied theology in the Netherlands after WWII, and with his wife and family, moved to California, where he served as minister in the Presbyterian Church, USA. God called him out of the pastoral ministry in 1974 to pursue a ministry of faith. Proclaiming a unique message of hope and faithfulness to the gospel, he traveled from his home in Hawaii to touch lives around the world. His teachings inspired and challenged many to grow in their faith. He taught Old Testament Studies at Melodyland School of Theology, the Bible Institute of Hawaii and the International College and Graduate School in Honolulu. He was a man of deep convictions, a unique thinker, and a gifted teacher and preacher.
Rely was married for 53 years to Johanna, who was his partner in times both good and challenging, and together they were blessed with a rich and varied life though they never had very much in terms of financial resources. He loved his family both far and near, and loved as family those who were drawn to him for his wisdom and faith.
He is survived by his three sons, Martin, Eric and Paul; daughter-in-law, Carrie; former daughter-in-law, Lorene; Eric's partner David; two grandchildren, Lydia and Eric; his brother Wil; sisters Gerda and Ina; and other family members in the Netherlands.
Note: This website is being built and developed with the kind permission of the Heins family.
A Legacy Ministry of the late Dr Rely Heins