LEFT: Southern Hills Evangelical Free Church Pastor Dirk Jasperse holds a baptism May 15th at Fall River in Hot Springs. RIGHT: Former E-Free Church Pastor Mark Crossman and his wife DJ moved to Loveland, Colo., in 2019, after more than 30 years serving in Hot Springs. (submitted photos)
By Charity Maness
HOT SPRINGS – The Southern Hills Evangelical Free Church, located at the top of the viaduct, recently welcomed new Pastor Dirk Jasperse with open arms, as he in turn now embraces the congregation and the city of Hot Springs.
“My hope as a pastor in Hot Springs is to faithfully serve Jesus Christ and his Church by building up the body of Christ at Southern Hills Evangelical Free Church,” said Jasperse. “We as a church exist to love and serve God first and foremost, but that love for God should express itself in love for the community in which we live.” Adding, “I also hope to be a loving presence in Hot Springs and a good neighbor to others.”
Raised in Fargo, N.D., the oldest of four in a Christian family, Jasperse learned the love of God at a young age attending church every Sunday and attending a Christian school K-12.
His youth was also spent playing many sports from soccer to baseball and basketball with tennis being his favorite. While not active in sports at this time, he still roots for his favorite team, the Green Bay Packers.
It was while in high school Jasperse unwittingly found his calling.
“I was given opportunities to preach in my church’s youth group, and at my Christian high school’s chapel services,” he said, and was encouraged to consider becoming a pastor. Yet, he had reservations because, “Sometimes, though, church people will say that to any young man in the church who can speak semi-coherently in public.” After years of considering that calling and praying about it, testing the waters at his church and seeking counsel from family, pastors and elders he chose his lifelong path of fulltime ministry.
While inspired first and foremost by Jesus Christ, Jasperse is also thankful for those along this path he has taken for their guidance and support.
“My dad has been a huge influence on my life. He’s a faithful Christian man who loves God, loves God’s church, loved my mom, and loved his kids. He’s also one of the smartest people I know, who modeled for me what it looked like to serve God and love him faithfully in all areas of life, including with all one’s mind. His faith was never divorced from serious thought
Jasperse received his Master’s degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and served 9 months as an Associate Pastor at First Evangelical Free Church of Wichita, Kan., before moving to Hot Springs, along with his wife Katie, to serve at Southern Hills Evangelical Free Church.
“My favorite part of my work is preaching and teaching God’s Word to others, and then seeing them put it into practice. It’s also been a tremendous joy to baptize 5 people last month in the Fall River downtown. Those are the sorts of things that are encouraging as a pastor.”
However, whether a pastor makes the job look easy or not, Jasperse assures that it is serious work spreading the word of God.
“Reaching and teaching requires diligent, hard work to rightly interpret what God has said through his Word and how best to communicate it to others. You’re reading ancient texts written in a different language in a different cultural setting, and then figuring out how those texts apply in a different cultural setting and context and how best to communicate what those texts say to people in a very different place and time. It’s a joy, but it’s also hard work.”
While Jasperse hopes to carry on the works of his predecessors he also hopes to grow them.
“We hope to increase our church’s adult education programs and weekly Bible studies,” said Jasperse along with his dedication to spreading the word of God with his weekly sermons.
He also hopes to continue as well as enhance community outreach.
“We also want to be a church that is a blessing to our community. We do that in a number of ways, through our weekly grill-out Wednesday nights at 6:00 pm in the summers, through our partnerships with other organizations and ministries doing good in the Hot Springs community, including the Food Pantry, and through seeking to be hospitable to others in the community. I hope those efforts will continue, but I’m sure there’s always additional things we could be doing.
His advice for youth today would be to “trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation. And be willing to do so even if most of those around you are going the other direction.”
Previous E-Free Church Pastor Mark Crossman and his wife DJ moved to Loveland, Colo., in 2019, after more than 30 years serving in Hot Springs. They made the difficult decision to leave due to her mother and father’s failing health.
Since moving away, DJ’s mother has sadly passed away and her father is now in hospice.
“It has been an emotional couple of years,” said Mark.
Mark has earned his counseling credentials and will begin counseling with Hope for Purity, a Christian bible based ministry with his specialty being geared towards men and “working with sexual integrities in their lives.”
“I am excited,” said Mark. “It’s a chance for me to get back into ministry related work, and the program is very discipleship based which simplified means helping people to grow in their faith and practice faith becoming an integral part of their life.”
No matter the stresses and busyness of life, the Crossman’s make sure to get time away together.
“We love to go camping in the mountains,” said Mark, “we love to hike too, and we’ve made that a priority to get time to do that.”
While they have adjusted to their new lives, Mark admits they both miss Hot Springs terribly.
“My wife and I have talked multiple times of how much we miss Hot Springs. Our hearts are still there; we miss the people, the pace of life and send all our love.”
For more info on SHEFC visit their website at www.shefchurch.com