Mitch Hazekamp has retired from church ministry after 42.5 years. He says the one thing that changed his life forever took place on June 15, 1968, when he was baptized at Half Moon Lake into the Seventh-day Adventist faith.
Hazekamp grew up in Michigan, and expected to work for Hazekamp Foods, the family business. God had other plans. After his baptism, he felt called to ministry and attended Southern Missionary College (now Southern Adventist University) in Collegedale, Tenn. After college he was employed by the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, where he has spent his life serving.
“Ministry became my life; it defined and changed who I was as a person,” says Hazekamp. For the past 14 years, he has served as the stewardship and planned giving director and Association secretary. Feeling great passion for stewardship, he even published a book, Stewardship & Everything; Practical Lessons from Scripture and Daily Life.
Hazekamp has worked at churches around the Conference, from Rossville, Knoxville, and Morristown, to Murphy and Savannah. He served as regional ministerial director for the southern region, and built many schools and churches during his tenure. He has fond memories of mission service to Venezuela, Cambodia, Kenya, India, and the Philippines. He even helped rebuild Bass Memorial Academy in Lumberton, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina.
He fondly remembers his first evangelism experience with Perry Green. He also recalls when the people of Kenya thought he was God, due to his evangelism messages and sharing of God’s love. “They have nothing, just mud huts and grass roofs. I explained that God was speaking through me,” says Hazekamp. Hazekamp went back the next year to pray with and visit Kenyans in their villages, and help with building projects.
Every call he took was only accepted after there was also a position for his wife, Vivian Hazekamp, who served as a principal and teacher. In 2012, Hazekamp experienced a tragic accident from a tree falling. He didn’t know if he would ever walk or work again. Thankfully, due to his great health, a loving wife, and a strong love of walking and outdoor gardening, he did walk again and is back doing the things he enjoys.
He joins his wife, who served 40 years, in retirement, and plans to still fell trees, burn brush, garden, and hike with his lovely wife. They recently purchased a new travel trailer, and have plans to visit several locations, including a favorite, the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks.
Georgia-Cumberland | February 2017