If your mind is made up and you have no further questions, this website is not for you.  It is intended for those of us who want a deeper understanding of Christianity or for those who have become disenfranchised.

This website was created in memory of Al Helder, a highly gifted Christian Reformed pastor who served for 40 years.  He was also my husband for 20 years.  I was never an extension of him or his ministry, as he often reminded congregations, but I did support him and respect his passion for a kind of Christianity that was deeply meaningful.

He told me many times his job was to get people to think.  He constantly asked his congregations to “work with me” during his messages.  This was not always well-received. People often prefer simplistic thinking.  They prefer the pat answers so many of us were indoctrinated with as children.  If our parents think so, it must be true. It somehow feels disloyal to question. That’s how I was brought up.  I loved and respected my parents. They taught me what they had been taught. It took a bad first marriage to realize it was time for me to make my own decisions about my belief system.

It’s a process that never ends.

Al was passionate about his faith, but he was not pious in a shallow way. He simply lived it.  People mattered.  The needs of people always came before rules, legalisms or church order (Yes–he sometimes got in trouble for this).  Al was REAL. He was bemused by clergy or leaders that need to assert their importance.  He saw the dangers of power and control.

Al would be the first person to tell you that he was not perfect. He preached to himself as well as to others. His life was difficult from childhood on.  He struggled with depression.  He was a constant, life-long soul searcher.

I came across a poem he wrote many years ago while on his way to see his dying dad for the last time.  Al’s mother was an alcoholic.  She had previously died a tragic death.  Al’s family life had been filled with chaos and struggles in the midst of a church setting that only made it worse.  Their church did not work for them.  No one knew what to do. In this poem his feelings towards his dad are filled with ambivalence. “Reflections of a Son” speaks of both the love and frustration he felt for his dad with a beautiful, soul searching conclusion.

I am amazed at what passes as Christianity today. Simple requirements seem to be all it takes. Say you believe, go  to church . End of story. Then do as we say.  Believe what we tell you.  Don’t think for yourself.  Absolutely don’t question. So much of Christianity has been Westernized, Americanized, simplified, politicized and reduced to a few hot button issues.  The Bible has lost its beauty, its mystery, its richness, its real purpose.

My husband called it McFaith–fast food Christianity. It makes it so easy to sit in judgment of those who think or live differently.  He was the opposite.  He believed we must always start by examining ourselves and our beliefs as Christians.  I agree.

When he died suddenly two years ago it was very hard for me to hear Christians tell me it was part of God’s plan, God’s will.  It was actually because of human medical error.  I don’t need to pin that on God.  I do need to face it, plow through it and go through the painful process of grief.  And I needed to do that my way.  Two years later my life is good–a different kind of good, but it is good. Because of Al I am happy.  I am at peace.  My life with Al taught me a better way.

If you like what you see and want to learn more of Al’s approach to Christianity, stay tuned.

He has much, much more to offer.