Duke and Barbara (formerly Potter) Boogaard went to the same Christian grade school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, graduating from Grand Rapids Christian High School in 1953.
“I knew his name, but that’s about it,” remembers Barb.
God took them down separate paths, each enjoying a faith-filled marriage and joyful family life for over 50 years. Duke spent his years working as a sales and marketing director. Barbara used her special gifts as a volunteer in roles from Sunday school teacher to director of an international ministry’s volunteer program. They welcomed children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Each knew the bittersweet loss of having a beloved spouse go home to be with the Lord.
Then, after decades of living parallel lives, the Lord brought Duke and Barbara together. They were married in September, 2008 and are celebrating a new season of love, family and service to their Savior.
Duke and Barbara are committed to living out the words of Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” They say God has blessed them with a shared passion for missions, especially for the nation of India.
“I didn’t really know much about India or Mission India until I met Barb,” shares Duke. “I always served in the church, through music or other leadership roles, but missions work wasn’t something I thought God had gifted me for.”
Barbara had become passionate about supporting the indigenous missions efforts of Mission India in 2003, through her friendship with Founder John DeVries. And she was eager to share the exciting work with Duke.
“I think we were on our second or third date when she started telling me about Mission India,” Duke chuckles. “I went to church with John DeVries as a kid, but this was all new to me.”
In 2010, the Boogaards took on the special challenge of volunteering to open and manage Mission India Super Thrift, a resale shop in Grand Rapids that is run entirely by volunteers and gives its proceeds to support Mission India’s outreach.
“This has been a wonderful experience in terms of learning to rely totally on the Lord,” says Duke.
Barbara thrives in her role supporting Duke in their shared volunteer work. “I admire so much what he is doing,” she says. “He works long days and has such a gift for working with people.”
Through their work with Super Thrift, and as Charter Members of the Mission India Legacy Society, the Boogaards say they are simply acknowledging that everything they have belongs to the Lord. “Through the wisdom and direction He gives us, we are seeking to build His Kingdom.”
They are especially encouraged knowing that they are supporting India’s believers in reaching their own nation for Jesus, and that even the smallest gift will make an impact beyond their imagination.