David Murel Hensley was born on March 10, 1944 to Murel and Genevieve Hensley in North Bend, Nebraska. He grew up in Nebraska where his father was a stationmaster for Union Pacific Railroad. David graduated from Loup City High School in 1962. He attended Peru State College in Peru, Nebraska where he met his wife, Nancy Vanderbeek.
David was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, working with the Navigators while in college. As he neared graduation, he felt God’s call to enter fulltime Christian ministry. David graduated with a degree in elementary education in 1966 and taught sixth grade for one year while Nancy finished college. The two were married on June 2, 1967, and headed off to Holland, Michigan, where David attended Western Theological Seminary. He graduated with a Masters of Divinity in the spring of 1971. David and Nancy were blessed with two daughters.
During their 31 years of ministry, they served in six churches: Prairie View Reformed Church in Prairie View, Kansas; Faith Reformed Church in Brookings, South Dakota; Community Reformed Church in Clinton, Iowa; First Reformed Church in Lynden, Washington, Otley Reformed Church in Otley, Iowa; and Chandler Reformed Church in Chandler, Minnesota.
David loved being a pastor. He had the heart of an evangelist and was a gifted counselor. He was known to be a man of prayer, and would often pray with people on the phone or while driving in his car. David’s Bible was his most precious possession, and he had countless verses and passages memorized. A big theme of his ministry was encouraging people to be in the Word and to read their Bibles daily.
David’s greatest earthly challenge occurred on August 28, 2002, when he suffered a stroke during surgery which left him unable to speak or write. Forced to leave the pulpit, he spent the remainder of his life preaching in a different way. His testimony of submission to God’s will and trust in God’s love spoke volumes to everyone he encountered. From nurses and fellow patients in the hospital, to friends and neighbors in his own community, his cheerful acceptance of his limitations and genuine interest in the welfare of others were evidence of his deep faith. His family received the greatest blessing of his example. His wife, children and grandchildren watched him live out James 1:2, which says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” He never complained, often expressed his gratitude for small blessings, and was ever patient in his affliction.
His overarching desire was to know Christ and make Him known, which never changed throughout his suffering. His favorite verses from First John chapter five say, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Wherever he went, he witnessed Christ to those around him, whether it was a fellow passenger on a plane, or a stranger in a restaurant. He had a compassion for others that drew him to make personal connections with people and, as a result, he touched countless lives.
On September 1, 2018, David finished his race, and entered the presence of his loving Lord, healed completely, forever. He will be greatly missed by those who loved him most until the final Resurrection Day. These include his wife, Nancy, daughters Heidi (Brian) Tschetter of Edgerton, MN, and Wendy (Micah) Tamminga of Gig Harbor, WA; and his seven grandchildren, Chloe, Kelsey and Jesse Tschetter, and Watchman, Malachi, Honor and Lily Tamminga. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Paul and sister Elizabeth. We celebrate the end of his earthly struggle and await a sweet reunion.
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