MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN. Nr.71

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Nr.70 ended with: “You see, I had three things against me……!” (See richardandmarina.net)

This is actually something personal but I want to share it with you to give you an idea of why I was feeling so discouraged on the way home from Northern Ireland where I had such a wonderful time. You see, I had three things against me,

One, I was a Dutchman, “nen Hollander”, they say in Belgium. And the Belgians and Hollanders are not really in love with each other. Most jokes in Holland are about the Belgians and most in Belgium about the Dutch. I am having a hard time withstanding the temptation to tell you some, ha! So I always felt self conscious about being Dutch. Often I carried my Canadian passport with me and when people asked me where I was from, as they could hear on my accent that I was not from Belgium, I would tell them, that I came from Canada. Their reply would usually be, “You speak good Dutch”, to which I would reply, “Well yes, thank you.” But then the question would come “Have you maybe lived in Holland?” And then I would have to come out with the truth, “I was born in Holland, but I had nothing to do with that.” That would sort of break the ice and they would smile. However, I never got over the feeling of being a stranger there, except when people became Christians, then it changed.

Secondly, I had never worked with Roman Catholics in Canada and Belgium was more than 90% Catholic, why the Lord sent me there, only heaven knows. I knew very little about the Catholic faith and what they believed, but I learned pretty fast.

In the third place, I had never done personal work, I am a preacher, the larger the group, the better it goes, but give me one person and I hardly know what to say. The Bible talks about the gift of evangelism and both my wife and I have that gift, but while I present the Good News to groups, she does it on a one to one basis. My co-worker Herb was also that way and that’s why we teamed up so good. But talk about preaching to large groups in Belgium……….?! (Go to Musings)

 

MUSINGS OF AN “OLDER” MAN. Nr.70

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Nr.69 ended with: “And then came April 1, 1972……!” (See richardandmarina.net)

Yes, on Saturday, April 1 we had our first baptism with three people obeying the Lord. Hundreds and hundreds upon hundreds were to follow. The next day, Sunday, April 2, we started the first little church with 16 people, children included in our living room. Fifteen years later there would be 20 churches all over Flemish speaking Belgium, some small ones, some large, that is, according to European standards. The Lord blessed in a wonderful way and I was asked to come and speak at conferences in at least 12 other European countries, as people were so amazed at what was happening in Belgium, it was just unheard of and they wanted to know what our “secret” was. But we had no secret, it was the work of the Lord and we were there just at the right time. The only things we had were the Bible, prayer and above all, the Holy Spirit who did the work, using weak and frail instruments. Had Jesus not said, “I will build my church?” Psalm 118:23, “This was the Lord’s doing, it is marvellous in our eyes!”

But that didn’t mean that it was easy, in fact I had such a difficult time during the first year that I wondered why the Lord had brought me to Belgium. Thank God, some time during that year, a friend who had been in Bible College with me in Canada was working with a youth movement in Northern Ireland and he asked me to come and speak at a youth weekend with about 300 young people. What a time we had, it was just wonderful to be able to preach in English again to a large group of people. I was overjoyed and the Lord really worked and many lives were touched. Even an IRA terrorist was converted, who had to go into hiding after that. But on the flight home I literally wept, so discouraged I was, and I asked the Lord why in heaven’s name He had brought me to Belgium, it was so difficult there. I was just not the right person for that kind of country and people. You see, I had three things against me……! (Go to Musings)

OVERPEINZINGEN VAN EEN “OUDERE” MAN. Nr.70

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Nr.69 eindigde met: “Toen kwam 1 april 1971……..!” (Zie richardandmarina.net)

Jawel, op 1 april 1972 hielden we onze eerst doopdienst met 3 nieuwe christenen die de Heer gehoorzaamden. Honderden en honderden en nog eens honderden zouden volgen. De volgende dag, op zondag, 2 april ontstond de eerste kleine gemeente in onze woonkamer, met 16 mensen, kinderen inbegrepen. Vijftien jaar later zouden er 20 gemeenten zijn over geheel Vlaams sprekend België, kleine en grote gemeenten, naar Europese normen. De Heer zegende op een wonderbaarlijke wijze en ik werd gevraagd om te komen spreken op conferenties in tenminste 12 andere Europese landen, omdat men zo onder de indruk was met wat er in België gebeurde en men wilde weten wat ons “geheim” was. Maar we hadden geen geheim, het was het werk van de Heer en wij waren daar op het juiste moment. Het enige wat wij hadden was de Bijbel, gebed en bovenal de Heilige Geest, die het werk deed door zwakke instrumenten. Had Jezus niet gezegd “Ik zal mijn gemeente bouwen?” Psalm 118:23, “Van de Heer is dit geschied, het is wonderlijk in onze ogen.”

Maar dat betekende niet dat het gemakkelijk was en dat alles vanzelf ging, in feite, gedurende dat eerste jaar had ik het zo moeilijk dat ik me afvroeg waarom de Heer mij hier gebracht had. God zij dank, kreeg ik dat jaar een verzoek van een vriend die met mij op Bijbel College gezeten had en die nu met een jeugdbeweging in Noord Ierland werkte, om te komen spreken op een jeugdweekend met zo’n 300 jonge mensen. Ik ging maar al te graag en wat maakten we een geweldige gezegende tijd mee. Het was zo goed om weer in het Engels te mogen prediken voor een grote groep jonge mensen. Ik was overgelukkig en de Heer werkte en vele levens werden aangeraakt. Zelfs een IRA terrorist kwam tot geloof en moest zich daarna uit vrees voor represailles verbergen. Maar toen ik terug naar huis vloog weende ik op het vliegtuig, ik was zo ontmoedigd en ik vroeg de Heer waarom Hij mij in hemelsnaam naar België gebracht had, het was daar zo moeilijk. Ik was niet de juiste persoon voor zo’n land en zulke mensen. Maar ik had dan ook drie dingen tegen……….! (Ga naar Overpeinzingen)