Bill Renkema, who served for 17 years as a missionary and church planter and for 24 years in parish ministry, died Oct. 28. He was 67. Renkema had glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer that was discovered only six weeks before he was scheduled to retire in 2018. In the 20 months that he was sick, never did he waver in his faith. When one of his children asked him during this time if he had any unfinished business or if there was something he wished he could still do, he replied, “I’d tell more people about Jesus.”
Renkema felt called to missions at an early age. After graduation from Calvin Theological Seminary and ordination in 1978, he and his wife went to Honduras with Christian Reformed World Missions (now Resonate Global Mission). For the first five years, he planted churches in Olancho where the nearest English-speaking neighbor was six hours away. Renkema had amazing language skills. He wrote Bible school and seminary curriculum in Spanish. In 1989, he left Honduras to serve in Puerto Rico. Even after returning from the mission field, he remained very focused on outreach in the churches that he served: Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Lowell, Mich.; Borculo CRC in Zeeland, Mich.; and Cutlerville East CRC in Cutlerville, Mich.
Known for his wide smile and optimism, Renkema liked golf, played the guitar, and every morning had a song in his head that he sang or whistled all day long. His grandchildren will remember him for teaching them to fish and for asking for ice cream for every dessert.
He will be missed by Teresa, his wife of 45 years, four children, their spouses, and 11 grandchildren.