Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Celebrating 60 years of diaconal ministry - Sr Irene Brunsveld

Sister Irene Brunsveld
On April 30th, 2015, Sister Irene Brunsveld celebrated 60 years as a deaconess. She was born in Bocholt, Germany. When she was 15, she heard a sermon about God prompting Abram to leave his home and move to a new country. That appealed to her enormously. From that moment on, she wanted to put her life at the service of God. Being only 15, her parents thought she was too young for such a drastic choice. But a long conversation one evening made them realize how serious young Irene was about what she felt God was calling her to do. She was only 16 when she completed a diaconal year in a supportive environment, and had the opportunity to learn to speak the Dutch language. In her ministry, she was available for young and old, healthy and sick, rich and poor. She was a kindergarten teacher, youth worker, and worked in several centres for the elderly, and nursing home aged care. She was able to open up faith conversations about with people, including terminally ill patients.
Sister Irene has always related her ministry to a watering can: Just as a watering can keeps plants alive, so she wants to water those experiencing difficult times with her love, kindness and compassion - where there is need, to be present with hands and heart. 'This is only possible if we receive and remain connected to the source of living water'.
Now 76, Sister Irene is far from silent, or 'retiring'. She does a lot of pastoral care. She makes visits to people in Amerongen. She has an extensive network of acquaintances, and visits the retired sisters who live in Elim. As she looks back on her years of diaconal service, she reflects: 'It's been worth it. I've had a rich life, and enjoy every day of God's faithfulness and good care'.

Sister Irene is part of the DWF member association, Zendings-Diaconessenhuis Bethanie

Zendings Diaconessenhuis
We celebrate Sister Irene's life, her witness and service, and her courage to respond to and pursue God's call on her life. We give thanks for her ministry, and her example of practical care and compassion - 'a watering can' for all those who thirst in life. And in celebrating Sister Irene's life, we are reminded of the iconic figure of Abram who left his country and kin in response to God's call on his life, and we recognize again the faithful of every generation and expand our awareness of a great company of witnesses above and around us like a cloud (Hebrews 12:1). Such awareness lifts us out of a preoccupation with our own immediate situation and the discouragements of the present. In the knowledge that others have persevered, we are encouraged to endure against all odds (Hebrews 12:1-2). And we are reminded that God has been with the faithful of the past, and so we are reassured that God is with us today. Thanks be to God!

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