Promise Community Health Center is pleased to announce that their 2019 Addink Community Service Award will be presented to Pastor Deb Rensink of Whispers of Love, Hope and Joy.
This award, which recognizes and honors an exceptional individual or family that makes volunteerism and community service a way of life, will be presented to Deb at the annual Promise Community Health Center’s An Evening of Promise” Celebration and Fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 17, at Terrace View Event Center in Sioux Center.
Rensink is passionate about people. A former RN, Deb felt called to ministry, and completed her Master of Divinity with RCA from Western Seminary in 2014. Unsure of which way God was calling her, she waited on Him and prayed for direction. In June of 2016 three encounters helped make her decision. “The first week, (husband) Mark and I went to a fundraiser in Alton,” Deb explained. “A woman attending found out I was a pastor, and started sharing with me about emotional abuse she had suffered. She had spent time with her pastor, but felt that she hadn’t been heard. She really felt injured from that encounter. A week later, Mark and I had gone on a bike ride and were putting away our bikes when a woman walking down the sidewalk stopped to talk with us. She shared about a family member who had been abused. She told me she didn’t know how to navigate through what had happened, or how to find healing for the family member and herself. The third week we had gone out with two other couples. One began to share about a family member in an abusive relationship. Because they felt unheard and unsupported by their pastor, they had started to back off of their church. I knew God was calling me to work with abuse. But I didn’t know anything about it! I grew up in a warm, loving home and always felt supported. I decided to see where it would go, and just trust.”
In May of 2017, Deb stepped into a volunteer pastor role with the Family Crisis Center, working through the non-profit she developed, Whispers of Love, Hope and Joy, which allows Deb to go in as a volunteer and work with abused people.“I felt very inadequate!” She laughed ruefully, “I wasn’t sure what my job was going to look like but I felt strongly convicted that this is where I was called to be.” Besides being trained as a domestic violence advocate, Deb has completed iPEC training (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching), and is a Certified professional coach, as well as a master practitioner as an Energy Leadership Index: a way of measuring how we engage in our day to day lives and how we react to stress. All of that training has helped her understand that the greatest need that abused people have is to believe their story, because that is the beginning of healing.
Deb goes in sometimes to just be present with the people she works with, and provides a safe, calm, healing and prayerful presence. “I just allow them to speak,” Deb explained, “because for some of them they HAVEN’T been allowed to talk, and they need to find their voice again. I don’t try to fix the problem: that’s often not what they need from me. I’m just present with them wherever I find them.” She holds to the guiding principles she has developed: offering compassion to the broken-hearted, healing for the hurting, dignity in the darkness, and hope for the hopeless.
Because the Family Crisis Center covers seventeen counties, Deb does a lot of driving, providing rides to the women in the program, who often don’t have vehicles, or whose vehicles need repair. That need is what brought her to her latest venture.
“A few years ago, I was approached by Brad Vermeer, who is in an area Men’s Bible Study, about doing maintenance on vehicles for women who need help,” explained Rensink. “The timing was wrong. But last year I was struggling with how to help the abused women I work with, and remembered their offer. I reached out to them, and they agreed to help with the project.”
Last year was the first time Whispers of LHJ, Atlas and the men’s Bible study group put on the event. Twenty-two vehicles were serviced at Rensink’s farm, while the women were given a tutorial by Bob Bruxvoort on how to take care of their vehicles. Vice-President Ashley Schuiteman was on hand for the event. “We wanted the women to feel empowered when they left us, and know that they would be safe in their vehicles,” she said. “It was very humbling to see some of the cars. We realized how blessed we are to have men in our lives who aren’t abusive and make sure our vehicles are in good shape.”
October 12 is the day designated for the event this year. The group is looking forward to servicing twenty-four vehicles. Thanks to donations of oil from Co-op Gas and Oil, and oil filters donated by Arnold Motor Supply, and a $2,500 grant from America’s Farmers Grow Communities (sponsored by the Bayer Fund), the money from the grant will be used to provide winter survival kits to the survivors of abuse. “It’s great to see the way survivors have connected and how people are engaging with each other through this event and others,” Rensink said. “We can’t do life in isolation. When women leave a bad situation, they often lose their support network and need to find a new community. Even though what they go through is so horrific, they need to know God knows their heart, and all of the pain will pass. With God’s help, we can help them build a better life.”
Rensink was nominated for the award by Kelsey Vande Berg of the Family Crisis Center. Vande Berg is grateful for the support she provides to their clients and staff. “Pastor Deb frequently hosts dinners at her home for holidays, since many of our clients may not have somewhere to go. She answers phones at our main office weekly, which is a huge need we have right now! She helps clients move out of housing when they’re ready to go, tapping into her connections in the community to get trailers, moving companies, or just more people to help them move. Pastor Deb has even opened up her home to clients when needed. Pastor Deb fills so many roles that our staff are not always able to fill, due to time or budgetary restraints. She is an integral part of our team, and it’s hard to believe it’s largely volunteer work!”
Volunteers bring together communities and enrich the organization and people they serve,” said Amy Kleinhesselink, co-CEO for Promise. “Promise Community Health Center recognizes a volunteer each year with the Addink award as a way to express our gratitude and honor to all those who give their time.”
The Addink Community Service Award was created in 2012 to recognize one individual or family who has made a positive impact on the community through volunteerism. The award is named after Ken and Barb Addink of Sioux Center in recognition of their lifetime of involvement in community activities, including the establishment of dental services as Promise.
PAST ADDINK AWARD HONOREES:
Here are the past Addink Community Service Award honorees:
Ken and Barb Addink – 2012
Tom and Marlene Van Holland – 2013
Jean Ellis – 2014
Rob and Sharon Schelling – 2015
Rod and Jayne Hofmeyer – 2016
Barbara Top 2017
Judy Hauswald – 2018