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Cornelius and Joan Rientjes Scholarship

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Must be enrolled full-time at Northwest University, and demonstrate a Christian life style showing constructive leadership in a Christian college environment.


Cornelius (Cornie) Rientjes was born January 18, 1913, in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. His parents emigrated from Holland to Canada, and when Cornelius was seven the family moved to Oak Harbor. It was there that he grew up and met the love of his life in 1934. Joan (Johanna) VandenHoek was born August 16, 1915. Cornelius was 22 and Joan was 20 when they were married. Their first years of marriage took place during the depression. Joan worked as a registered nurse and Cornelius did whatever jobs were available. Then in 1940 they moved to Seattle and Cornelius started to work for an oil company.

Cornelius and Joan had always been Christians and attended a reform church in Oak Harbor. One day after visiting Bethel Temple they made their dedications to serve the Lord. By this time Cornelius and Joan had two young daughters and lived close to Northwest Bible Institute. In the morning the whole family would get up and go to school. In 1946 Joan and Cornelius were ordained and took their mission to Alaska.

In Ketchikan, Alaska, Joan and Cornelius had a church, and children’s home that quickly grew to 22 children. They were operating their missions by faith without promised support. Often the local police would swing by to drop off children. At one point all the food they had were three frozen potatoes to feed about twenty five people. Cornelius ended up going to the post office where he found a letter from one of their friends that included a 25 dollar check. He then went to the store where he was offered credit. Cornelius had to decline because the family didn’t have a salary. From that day on a box of groceries was left on their porch every week.

In 1948 after being in Alaska for two years Cornelius and Joan continued their ministry together in Bellevue, Karreh, Arlington, Lynden, and Ferndale Washington. Despite suffering a major heart attack, in 1968, that his doctors said he would never fully recover from, Cornelius continued to preach for 17 years. In 1985 after being in the ministry for 39 years they retired.

After discovering Joan had Alzheimer, they moved to Lynden in 2000. Joan ended up being moved into a Health Care Center. Cornelius visited her everyday, and everyday she would ask for her “Cornie.” On April 26, 2005, their 70 th Wedding Anniversary, Cornelius was holding her for the last time she went to be with the Lord. She went to the Lord at 7:30pm the exact time she and Cornie walked down the aisle 70 years ago. Cornelius still goes for walks, and does his devotions daily. He also continues to visit and minister at the Health Care Center where his wife died. January 18, 2008 he turned 95. Together Joan and Cornelius have 2 surviving children, 7 grandchildren, 11 great-grand children, and two great-great-grandchildren.

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