Brothers & Sisters of HeartCry Missionary Society,
We’ve come to the beginning of a new year, 2018. Christmas and New Year’s are a season during which many people send good wishes to one another by regular mail and e-mail, etc. The change of year brings not only memories of the past year, but also a looking forward to the year ahead of us. I was personally much influenced by the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 13:11b “For now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.”
This is a special and very encouraging verse with an important reference to time. With “salvation” Paul is alluding to the full redemption, the complete deliverance that will be applied to us at the coming of Jesus Christ. Since we first believed, “time” has passed. The time of waiting for the Lord’s return has now been shortened by another year. Complete redemption has come a year closer to us. This is good news! Years ago, Annette and I would often visit an older brother who had a very living faith. He’s not alive any longer. I think of him often. He used to say these one-liners that would stick with me. On his birthday he said with much emotion and love to those that were visiting him, “Every year is a year closer to the best or the worst”. The text in Romans 13:11b is speaking of the very best.
The year 2017 was marked by dramatic changes for us. At the beginning of 2017 the health of my father quickly declined. After a hospital stay he was moved to a nursing home. The idea was rehabilitation with the eventual goal to go back home. As many of you know, he never came back home, but passed away on March 27th. The death of my father touched me deeper than I could have imagined. Death is an enemy and is so definite and radical. Even though we do not sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13), we really miss him. During Christmas season we placed a memorial stone on my father’s grave. Those are moments during which many memories come back.
On July 21st our family was enlarged by the birth of our 4th son, Juda. He was born very healthy and is doing very well. He is growing so fast. His first tooth is coming through. It is wonderful to see how our boys treat him. They are ‘crazy’ about him. He brings–despite interrupted nights–much joy to our family. It is our intense prayer that Juda will do honor to his name and that he will live a life in which he will worship and praise God, his Creator.
We have regularly updated you all during the last year through our news letters in which we shared about the work with which we were involved. I had many, many speaking engagements and there were plenty of pastoral counseling sessions. Countless emails with questions (and sometimes criticism) were answered. Time and again, the Lord gave us strength, insight, courage, and much joy to do the work we did. Everything wasn’t always simple and joyous, but we testify with Nehemiah that ‘the joy of the Lord is our strength’. Also financially our heavenly Father supplied what we needed. You all were an important link in this. Thank you! We are very grateful for each form of support. It is so amazing to see how the Lord continues to incline hearts to be united to and involved with our family and with the work to which He has called us.
Sometimes at the turn of a year we may look back at the past with sorrow and stay stuck in it. Instead, let us live today in the light of eternity. The most hopeful people in this world are those who have embraced Jesus as their Lord and Savior. With Jesus, “even in our darkest moments the best remains and the very best is yet to be,” said Corrie ten Boom. And Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” This is why we will finish with the same words of Paul with which we started, “For now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.” Therefore, rejoice ye in Jesus your Lord!
All the best, under the shadow of God’s wings, during this new year!
Receive our warm and loving greetings,
Jacques, Annette, Levi, Boaz, Jesse en Juda