Ben Hoogendoorn takes helm of International China Concern Canada
Posted by Communications Staff May 12, 2015
Newly-appointed Executive Director of ICC Canada, Ben Hoogendoorn, with his wife Willie.
It was at a UN feeding station in Burundi, in 2006, where Ben Hoogendoorn remembers seeing Jesus. Ben has made a habit of looking for what he calls “Jesus sightings,” so it wasn’t the first time he had seen Jesus “in his distressing disguise.” But this sighting stood out.
Burundi had been torn by civil war for more than a dozen years. Ben had flown in to do an assessment on this feeding centre in his role as CEO and president of Food for the Hungry Canada (FH Canada).
Conditions in the feeding centre were dire, he says. Mothers with empty breasts, their children wasting away, despair written on their faces. What struck him most, however, was the eerie silence of children too weak to even cry anymore.
Looking across the camp, Ben noticed a little girl whose face was badly disfigured, obviously terrible burned. As he would later discover, this child (named Ingabire) had been abandoned by her parents because of her injury. “We locked eyes, and she had this Mona Lisa smile on her face,” Ben says. “I thought, ‘how can she smile in this hell-hole?’"
"In that same nanosecond, I realized this was my Jesus sighting, because anyone who could have a face this radiant in that location must be Jesus.”
Ingabire, the girl Ben met in a Burundi UN feeding camp in 2006.
It is this kind of heart for the least of these—including those abandoned due to disabilities—that has lead Ben to accept the role of Executive Director of the International China Concern Canada (ICC Canada) as of April 2015.
“I have always been drawn to those of low value in our culture’s eyes,” Ben says. He says he is impressed by the fact that ICC is influencing how people in China view those with disabilities.
“Children in China that were seen as having little or no value are helping to change the way the Chinese government officials and health care authorities are dealing with children with disabilities,” he says, noting that this is one of the factors that has drawn him to take on the leadership of ICC Canada.
A recent photo of Ben and Ingabire.
“It’s the kids that are and will continue to benefit, but in receiving assistance, they are also key in bringing change [to China] through a theological lens,” he says. “That’s huge.”
Prior to taking the helm at ICC Canada, Ben was most recently the President and CEO of FH Canada, the Canadian arm of the global aid and development agency, Food for the Hungry. In 2014, he felt it time to leave and seek where God was taking him next.
“We’re so excited that Ben’s next step is ICC,” says Kerry Tse, board chair for ICC Canada.
ICC Canada has continued to grow since David Gotts moved into the CEO role for ICC worldwide in 2013. “It became clear to us that a dedicated leadership position for ICC Canada was needed to help prepare and position us for a new stage of strengthening foundations,” says Kerry.
Ben and his wife, Willie, live in Abbotsford, BC. They have been married 45 years and have four children and 12 grandchildren. They are active in their church, Northview Community Church, in Abbotsford.