By BosNewsLife News Center
BUDAPEST/AMSTERDAM (BosNewsLife)– Eric Leijenaar, BosNewsLife’s larger-than-life Senior Special Correspondent and editor-in-chief of the Netherlands main evangelical news sources has died, leaving behind many mourners and a legacy of revealing Christian stories that impacted millions around the world.
Netherlands-based Leijenaar, 59, passed away late Tuesday, October 23, in his Dutch hometown of Zeewolde after suffering a heart attack, his family said.
Leijenaar was chief editor of his native country’s influential evangelical newspaper ‘Uitdaging’ (Challenge Monthly) and its website Uitdaging.nl as well as Christian site Manna-vandaag.nl.
BosNewsLife was his other passion. He put the Budapest-based news agency on the global map with “unparalleled coverage” about the suffering of Christians, the agency said.
“Leijenaar had an almost prophetic awareness of the rapid changes impacting Christians in for instance the Middle East,” recalled BosNewsLife founder Stefan J. Bos.
“His story in 2007 ‘Christians Crucified In Iraq, Dutch MP Says’ received millions of hits within roughly 24-hours and was picked up by media worldwide,” Bos recalled.
“There were many more examples such as his 2009 piece on Christians setting up an underground church in Mecca, viewed by Muslims as the “holiest city in Islam”, while tens of thousands of other Saudi Christians were worshiping via the Internet,” he said. “When Eric had a story, you knew it would be big.”
Leijenaar’s Dutch operations became news partners of BosNewsLife, with both exchanging news and information. “This way we also reached many people in the Netherlands, a strategic hub for evangelical activities,” Bos explained.
However, “More than anything, he was a true friend and brother in Christ when you needed encouragement in this often hectic and difficult, fast-moving, world,” BosNewsLife’s founder said.
“While we are all devastated, we know that he can now truly live the New Life after which BosNewsLife was named, enjoying his heavenly reward,” Bos added. “And I have a feeling that the Lord will use him for spreading the Good News.”
It was not immediately clear who would takeover editorial decision-making at the Uitdaging operations and Manna-vandaag.nl, said its publisher Maximum Life.
“To be honest we don’t know yet how we can continue,” acknowledged Dutchman Leo Habets, the publisher’s director. “Without Eric there is an emptiness here that is very difficult to fill,” Habets said, adding that he had urged supporters to “pray for the ministry and wisdom.”
Leijenaar, a veteran Dutch journalist, was editor and chief editor at Uitdaging during most years since 1999 under the Agapè evangelism organization.
His dedication to real news journalism, allowing critical reports and preferring keeping deadlines above obligatory company gatherings, led to conflicts however.
Between 2006 and 2011 he was dismissed by Uitdaging’s new publisher EB Media, later known as Inspirit Media, which had no experience in hard-news journalism.
Soon after, he became the main editor of Manna-vandaag.nl. He returned as editor-in-chief at Uitdaging in 2011 when it was taken over by Maximum Life of Habets, who originally helped launch the paper nearly three decades ago.
One of Leijenaar’s last stories was about Christians from Iraq, North-Korea and Afghanistan gathering in the Netherlands on November 3 to tell about their persecution experiences, including “a pastor who travels in a flak jacket to the weekly Sunday service.”
Between all that suffering Leijenaar also saw the daily joy of living faith: A television and theater producer bought up a life-size replica of the Ark of Noah in sea-faring Netherlands, turning it into Europe’s first floating Biblical theme park, he reported hours before he died.
“Uitdaging was his desire and life. He had an unrivaled dedication and energy for the paper and the site. It was his vision to share the Gospel [of Jesus Christ] through old and new media,” Habets said.
Eric Leijenaar leaves behind his wife Petra and children Yvonne, Lisanne and Tom.
A Christian funeral service is to take place Monday, October 29, at Zeewolde’s ‘Open Haven’ (Open Port) church center located at the town’s Kerkplein (Church Square) from 1100 am local time after the 1000-10.45 am opportunity for condolences, organizers said. The service will be followed by his burial at the nearby municipality cemetery at Dasselaarweg (Dasselaar Road) 26, BosNewsLife learned.