“… for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11
Dear brothers and sisters,
I’ve been occupied with the above Bible verse a lot lately. It is remarkable that specifically Paul – who himself was tried and refined by suffering – wrote a lot on the subject of ‘satisfaction’. If you study his life, you will be impressed by what he experienced as a result of following Jesus. And yet he was satisfied… It is also striking that Paul does not connect ‘satisfaction’ to intellect or character. It is not an innate ability or something. On the contrary, Paul himself has learned ‘satisfaction’. The Greek word for ‘learn’ has various meanings. You can ‘learn’ through formal education and/or through practical experience.
It is precisely in the corona crisis – during which certainties disappear and we’re forced to limit our comings and goings – that the Lord teaches and shapes us. He teaches us through the Bible, but also by allowing circumstances into our lives. This isn’t always easy, but it’s useful and necessary. Every day we learn something and unlearn something else. First and foremost – with everything that we miss and perhaps ardently desire – we are learning to be satisfied with Jesus and His work of redemption. Paul writes in 1 Tim. 6: 7-8, “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” What an important lesson!
It is amazing that the Lord has brought new work in my path during this corona time. This shows His special care for our family. At the same time, it is wise Solomon who invokes us in Ecclesiastes 9:10; “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” In short, God’s care and our responsibility are not mutually exclusive, but rather inclusive. Here are a few of my activities from the past period.
Recently, partly with a view to a good weekly schedule and some extra income in times of crisis – I temporarily went into manufacturing work for a few hours a week. I got the opportunity to work at FF Chemicals in Werkendam. A whole new world for me. It means getting out of bed very early, working even harder than I already did 😉 and being healthily worn out in the evening. I am very grateful for this opportunity. Incidentally, the factory is visibly spreading the good news. Meeting with colleagues is inspiring, plus I have the privilege of occasionally leading the morning devotional.
Most days of the week I am active with work that results from our ministry. I am grateful that several churches have approached me with specific requests. For example, I was allowed to teach three Bible studies through video for a church in Nieuw-Lekkerland, including homework assignments. These studies were watched on a church-wide basis and discussed afterwards on the basis of questions and remarks. I really liked doing this. I also provide a 5 part Bible study series via livestream for home groups of the congregation in Sleeuwijk on the topic of ‘A New Creation in Christ’, as a Biblical self-image and a healthy identity are essential to our spiritual life. The Lord blesses these studies and the church appreciates the meetings. I am active in other churches as well through livestream services. It still feels strange to speak in front of the camera without a physical audience, but the Gospel can still be proclaimed.
From the Hebron Mission in Amerongen I received an invitation to record a number of Bible studies on video. These have now been published on our website. Also, we look back with gratitude at the HeartCry NL Conference at the end of April, an end-time conference we did via livestream. Various speakers were involved. I myself spoke on the theme “Going Out in the Spirit and Power of Elijah” on the basis of Luke 1:17. This is a subject very near to my heart and very timely. In addition to all these activities, I try to make a video myself every now and then. I am grateful for the help and expertise of a young brother who edits and publishes these videos for me.
Because of the corona crisis a church in Rotterdam came up with the idea of a weekly Radio Song Church Service. Brothers and sisters from within and outside the congregation can submit song requests. I then ‘connect’ those songs during the broadcast, plus I also provide a biblical reflection. This brings me great joy and the broadcasts are greatly appreciated. It’s a wonderful open door to reach many people.
Furthermore, I was approached by the Evangelical Broadcasting Association (NPO Radio 5) for a recording of the program “Good News” that is broadcast every Sunday morning. It was a whole new experience to be in the studio and a great opportunity to pass on the Word of God via the airwaves. This program is listened to by thousands of people every week.
In addition to the aforementioned activities, the work in our home church in Alblasserdam also requires time and attention. Frankly, it demands more from me than I had expected. It requires a real heart-searching to keep all the work in balance: the speaking and the eldership.
This summer I have three Gospel campaigns on my calendar. One week our family will stay at a campsite in Zeeland and another week at a conference resort at the Veluwe, both in the Netherlands. Then we also plan to stay in Switzerland for two weeks. At all three locations I will be teaching Bible studies. This requires a lot of preparation and I have started working on that. Of course, due to the coronavirus it is still questionable whether everything will actually happen.
All in all, even during this time I have a lot of work to do and we are very grateful to the Lord for that.
To conclude, recently our family was happily surprised by an envelope with a gift in the mailbox. And in front of the door was a beautifully carved wooden sign with the following inscription, “Even if I go without a rudder or mast, I still hold on to Jesus.” The donor of all of this has remained anonymous to date. The message is clear and contains an exhortation that we can all really use during this period. In a turbulent and stormy time, real peace and tranquility can only be found at the feet of Jesus. And, “Whoever believes in Him will not be ashamed” (Rom. 9: 33b).
Thank you for your compassion for and commitment to our family and ministry. The Lord bless you for that. We would like to encourage you with the words from 2 Corinthians 1: 2-4, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we can comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”