Remembering Justin Bousema: Trusting in God Completely
April 23, 2008
" . . . My prayer through this is that I really learn how to trust in God; completely. That means trusting him to provide even when numbers come back low, that means trusting him to provide even if this therapy is not the answer, that means trusting him to provide even if a transplant is necessary. God has plans for me just as he has plans for each and everyone of us. Take time today to stop and look for evidence of God moving in your life. If you feel as though you are 'captive' ask him to teach you how to trust in order to gain the freedom which he promises . . . ."
Sioux Falls Seminary student Justin Bousema, who passed away on April 3, 2008, after a courageous battle with Aplastic Anemia, was a spiritual leader and inspiration to others. This was evident as noted from the above entry on his CaringBridge website.
Throughout his struggle with the illness, Justin's tremendous strength and faith were a witness to others. In the months and days before he passed away, he would inspire countless individuals. Among those were family, friends, fellow seminarians, strangers, and individuals at the American Reformed Church in Hull, Iowa, where Justin was serving as a student intern.
While growing up in Rock Valley, IA, Justin was active in church and community. As a senior in high school he participated in the Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) program where he met his future wife, Bethany Raman. Justin was drawn to helping others in their times of need. This compassion led him to work as an emergency medical technician and firefighter while studying psychology at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. He was also a part of the USD Disaster Response program and worked as a Red Cross volunteer for Hurricane Katrina, the Black Hills Forest fires, and various floods.
It was not until his senior year at college that Justin felt called into ministry. He reflected in his journal in September 2005, ". . . You are calling me into your service. Lord please speak to me. Reassure me that this is your will for my life. If so God it is my prayer that you will use me to the fullest of my ability. God in my heart I feel a yearning for you and to be involved in your plans. Use me Lord . . . ."
Justin felt reassured by God's call and in the fall of 2006, he began studies at Sioux Falls Seminary. In 2007, life took an unexpected turn. As he described, "On April 27, 2007, I decided that it was time to see a doctor; I had woken up for the third time that week with blood in my mouth. A week prior I noticed that I had developed a strange bruise on my leg and upon further inspection I noticed that there were other bruises in various states of healing on my legs and arms. That morning I had a blood test drawn and was informed . . . the platelet count in my blood was extremely low . . . ; I needed to be admitted into the hospital for further testing. What I thought was going to be an overnight stay turned into a week long experience . . . . I learned that I have a life threatening illness called Aplastic Anemia. It basically means that my bone marrow is not producing the normal blood products it should . . . ."
It was later discovered that Justin's body would not fix the problem on its own: treatment was needed. When none of his siblings were a match for a bone marrow transplant, immuno-suppressive therapy was tried before searching for an outside donor. Leading up to the transplant, Justin shared, "It is with mixed emotions Bethany and I face this reality. We know that the way things are going right now it seems as though a bone marrow transplant is the only other option but yet the thought of the possible complications and outcomes is frightening . . . ."
After the bone marrow transplant, the number of people praying for Justin, Bethany, and their families multiplied. He courageously faced many challenges and was surrounded with love and support from his family and friends.
Although Justin's life on earth has ended, his friends and family are cherishing the impact he made and continues to make on God's Kingdom. To honor his accomplishments, Sioux Falls Seminary granted Justin an honorary Master of Divinity degree on April 7, 2008, the day of his funeral.
To learn more about Justin's story or to view photos and journal entries, click here.