Trinity’s President Opens Home to Orphaned Brothers from Ethiopia

The Timmermans family gathers for their first family photo since the boys’ arrival from Ethiopia in September. Seated in the front row (l to r): Jess, Katie, Becca, and Getenet; back row (l to r): Fekadu, Steve, Barbara, and PaulGood leaders lead by example, not just in their workplaces but in their daily lives.

Dr. Steve Timmermans, president of Trinity, said that as a believer who grew up with the Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude pattern of the Heidelberg Catechism, he seeks to live a life of gratitude.

“While I’m certain I miss hundreds of opportunities each day to show my gratitude to others, I seek to express my gratitude both by giving words of thanks and by honoring others with meaningful tasks, important responsibilities, and true partnerships in mission.”

Those tasks, responsibilities, and partnerships are evident in the work he has been accomplishing as president of the College since 2003. Under his leadership, there has been a continued growth in traditional and adult studies enrollment, a rise in the College’s ranking in U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Colleges,” and the building and renovation of several campus facilities.

But Timmermans said he doesn’t claim to be an expert leader or an expert on leadership. “The critical piece for me is listening to God’s direction and having the courage to take that step.” In fact, he counts his most important task as raising the children God has given to him and his wife, Dr. Barbara Timmermans, professor of nursing at Trinity.

The Timmermans have raised four children, Katie, Paul, Becca, and Jessica, who is a freshman this year at Trinity. But they have taken other young people into their home over the years: Brian, who lived with them in Grand Rapids and Louis, who came from Haiti.

Fekadu, 12, and Getenet, 16, originally of Ethiopia, were recently adopted by President Steve and Dr. Barbara Timmermans. Recently the Timmermans adopted orphaned brothers Fekadu, 12, and Getenet, 16, from Ethiopia. The couple knew about the children through a friend of the family who had helped start the Yezelalem Minch orphanage in Addis Ababa where the brothers lived with their older sister and a cousin. The boys will continue to be brought up in the environment of Christian faith they knew in the orphanage.

The family reports that the children are adjusting to their new home better than anyone could have imagined. Getenet is attending Chicago Christian High School in Palos Heights, and Fekadu is in fifth grade at Southwest Chicago Christian School in Oak Lawn.

When prayerfully considering the adoption, the president said that the deciding moment came when he and his wife heard a sermon about Peter “getting out of the boat.” In early August, the Timmermans, following Peter’s example to answer when called, flew to Ethiopia to meet the brothers and appear in an Ethiopian court room. President Timmermans, along with eldest daughters Katie and Becca, returned to Ethiopia later that month to complete the adoption, arriving home with the brothers September 2.

A meaningful task, important responsibility, and a true partnership in mission lived out.

The family’s gratitude to God is evident. “We know, like Peter, we need to focus not on the wind and waves,” said Timmermans, “but on the sure and steady grip Jesus has on our lives.”