Over the past couple of months I’ve spoken several times on the theme of ‘Contentment’. Especially the media want us to believe that we can design and form our lives according to our own wishes. They feed us with a feeling of discontentment. The apostle Paul, however, writes in Philippians 4:11 ’I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am’. This is an important biblical principle and a lifelong lesson. Contentment doesn’t grow in the soil of our natural heart. It is a spiritual learning process. In Philippians 4:13 Paul shares the secret of his contentment: ’I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. To be content – first and foremost – with the Lord Jesus and His perfect meditorial work, not to even speak of circumstances. What a blessing!
In our lives as well as our ministry circumstances aren’t always easy. On the contrary. Our story is not a ‘success story’. As others, we too, as a family, are going through a molding process. Our little Juda is now 10 months old. He’s a beautiful little boy, who has been giving us broken nights for more than 9 months. He wakes up about 7-8 times per night. Doctors and experts have no clue as to the cause. Annette is still nursing too. The combination of nursing and not sleeping enough is starting to take its toll physically. And I’m sure you understand that next to Juda our others sons Levi, Boaz, and Jesse also need the necessary attention. In other words, we have our hands full and are experiencing deeper and deeper how we can do nothing without the Lord.
Our ministry gives reason for gratefulness, but also confronts us with much (spiritual) need and brokenness in the lives of people. Pastoral work takes a lot of time and energy. Additionally, I sometimes receive negative criticism and rejection in reaction to the messages I preach. People get irritated and don’t want to deal with straightforward words and truth. The spirit of the time has many in its grip. We’re faced with false doctrine and spiritual decline in personal lives and church congregations. I believe that we live in the days of which Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:3 ’For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but ... will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own lusts’.
It’s okay for you to know that the above described developments have been weighing on me pretty ‘heavily’ recently. It’s another side of our lives and ministry. I’m not saying all this to complain, but to give you a small glimpse of the reality of what is going on in our lives. And, speaking of contentment... what is greatly encouraging to me is the exhortation of Paul a few verses later in 2 Timothy 4:5 ’But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist. Fulfill your miinistry.’ This keeps us going and gives us much joy and expectation. That we’re allowed to do this work brings amazement and thankfulness to our hearts. It really is a privilege. During these same few months we had many opportunities to speak with people about the Gospel and to equip them for works of service (Ephesians 4:12).
Here’s a selection of our many activities... In February I spent a mid-week teaching on the Tabernacle at the “Gospel for Europe’ Bible School in Hilversum. The beauty of this is that you can take the students for a few days and teach more indepthly. Also in February I was invited by the Evangelical Free Church of Oldebroek to speak at their annual Maranatha Conference. The theme was ‘When the Savior Will Appear’. In our own congregation in Alblasserdam I taught a series of Bible studies on the theme ‘Equipped for Service’. Among other things I spoke about assurance of faith, identity, and the Christian’s view of self.
It was a great privilege to speak in Heverlee (Belgium) in March during their Belgian Men’s Day. Along with brothers Jef de Vriese and Miel Vanbeckevoort I taught two Bible studies on ‘The Priesthood of Believers’. In Ermelo (Veluwe) I taught four Bible studies regarding the letters in Revelation 2 and 3. The overarching theme of this series was ‘Jesus’ Message to the Church in the End Time’. On the 14th of April I was the guest speaker at the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) Mission Event in Voorthuizen. The OMF arose from the work of the well-known Hudson Taylor. The theme of this mission’s day was ‘Your Presence Changes Things’. It was great that we as a family were able to attend and experience this day.
This year too, as in previous years, we will be having ‘tent campaigns’. A big tent is set up in a city or village and all week long meetings take place. Then the tent is moved to another town. In May I spoke in the tent in Wezep/Oldebroek. This month it is planned that I speak at the tent campaign in the city of Deventer. The theme of the tent campaigns is ‘Happy With the Bible’. These are easily accessible meetings of which you hope and pray that unbelievers will come in, sit down, and listen to the Gospel being preached. Those often give unexpected encounters.
On April 26th I left with a group of 58 people for Israel and Jordan for a Bible study tour. Together with Brother Johan Schep we opened and taught the Bible in many different places so that the Bible would come alive even more. We enjoyed it so much and experienced many precious and unforgettable moments with our group. The interest for it remains overwhelming. Travel agency JerusalemToday Travels has planned a new trip for the spring of 2019 and that trip already has been fully booked. During the time that I was in Israel Annette and the children went to camping De Betteld in Cadzand-Bad (Zeeland). A Christian brother and sister had made their camper available, which was very kind and considerate. Annette drove the camper herself; I admire her... She and the kids and a few friends had a great time at the camping.
From 18-21 May our family went to the ‘Pentecost Conference’ of HeartCry Netherlands. The theme was ‘Pentecost Today’. One of the main speakers was Brother Conrad Mbewe from Zambia. I was not scheduled to speak during this conference; I only facilitated a couple of meetings. It was wonderful though to be able to listen, be taught, and built up. We were again impressed by the greatness and majesty of our God. He lives and He is the same today as He was in Acts 2. It was a wonderfully blessed weekend.
Next to the above-mentioned activities we continue to have the regular meetings during the weekends. And the weekday Bible study in Oud-Bijerland on the book of Romans is almost finished; there are 4 evenings left. It is wonderful and refreshing to go through this rich epistle verse by verse.
In summary, there’s plenty of work and there are enough opportunities to share the Gospel. Thank you very much for your concern and support, in whichever way. Please know that we greatly appreciate it and need it. It is our constant prayer and trust that the Lord provide all our needs according to His riches in glory. Sometimes that trust is challenged and tried. But looking back over the past years, we can say that we have never wanted for anything.
To finish and to encourage - Psalm 91:1-2 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in Whom I trust.’ “