Those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people
from this time forth and forever. (Psalm 125:1-2)
“A song of ascents”– that’s how Psalm 125 begins. One who ascends can also be called a pilgrim. The word “pilgrim” comes from Latin and means something similar to ‘”stranger.” This psalm would be sung during the pilgrimages that were made to the temple in Jerusalem, during the times of the great feasts. The poet speaks of Mount Zion and the other mountains surrounding Jerusalem. I recently read the following, “To the Jews a mountain was an image of stability and trustworthiness. A lot has happened over the years. The temple was destroyed. First, Solomon’s temple was torn down in AD 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar, and, centuries later in AD 70, Herod’s temple was demolished by the Roman troops. The buildings were ravaged. But the mountains have remained to this day.”
Of course, Psalm 125 is not about geographical knowledge, but about the knowledge of faith. It is true, mountains surround Jerusalem, but the poet adds: so the LORD surrounds His people, then and today. This protection is not just a one-time thing; it is a permanent state. Psalm 125 is a song of encouragement for pilgrims and strangers, for people that are on the way, for those that are following in the footsteps of Jesus. It speaks of faith and trust in the character of God. This confidence rests in the firmness of God’s promises, is familiar with the perseverance of the saints, and has hopes and expectations for the future.
At the beginning of this newsletter, we would like to express our gratitude for HeartCry’s faithful support of our family and ministry. In addition to your financial support, we are very thankful that we are supported by your prayers and that we’re able to consult you for advice if needed. Please know that we appreciate and need any form of support. The Lord has connected us across the great oceans in this manner, and He allows us to do the work together with you, in dependence on our heavenly Father.
We love giving you an update on the work of our ministry. Here is a selection of the activities of the recent months that we have been involved with, in addition to the regular speaking engagements.
Vacation Bible Week
We look back on an encouraging time at the conference center ‘t Vierhouterbos, which was fully booked. During our vacation Bible week in July, we spent time with an older group of brothers and sisters. It was a privilege to learn from them and to invest in them. Every day we studied the book of Nehemiah. Additionally, we enjoyed the peace and the beautiful surroundings. In early October, we hosted a Bible study weekend at the same conference center, where we studied Romans 9, 10, and 11 together. What was very encouraging for me was that my mother was also present. What a blessing and privilege.
During the summer we spent two weeks in Switzerland (Credo Wilderswil). Here, too, we did Bible studies with Dutch vacationers almost every day. During these studies, I spoke about the life of Joseph and about the life of John the Baptist. Of course, we also enjoyed wonderful relaxation and recreation. We are extremely grateful for this place and the cooperation with the team in Switzerland. It was an unforgettable time that we as a family look back on with great joy and gratitude. A new trip to Switzerland has been planned for the next year and this trip is already fully booked.
USB Stick Project
Let me give a brief introduction. The Baraka Foundation (second-hand clothing) in the Netherlands aims to provide (emergency) aid at home and abroad (Africa). But Baraka also desires to participate in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Baraka means “blessings” in Afrikaans. Ineke van Steenis, one of the founders, says, “It is a great blessing to be able to contribute to the distribution of USB sticks on which Jacques proclaims the Gospel so that more and more people hear about the Lord Jesus.”
We are grateful that the Baraka Foundation has currently sponsored 500 USB sticks. These sticks contain about 25 short and accessible Bible studies for young believers. Evangelists from our congregation in Alblasserdam hand out the sticks on the street during evangelistic campaigns.
As you may know, I’m privileged to also serve as an elder in the Christian Church Alblasserdam. Last Sunday was a happy day because three brothers were baptized. We had a beautiful outdoor gathering by the river. I spoke from Acts 4:13, “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus,” a wonderful Bible verse. It is such an encouragement that the Lord continues with His work. It is a privilege and a blessing to witness it again and again.
During the past months, many have found their way to our YouTube channel and have also subscribed to it. We are very grateful for that. When new sermons and Bible studies are published, subscribers will receive an email with a link to the new video. In short, an encouraging development.
Our family is very grateful that, unlike a year ago, the speaking engagements once again are able to continue. There are so many open doors to share the gospel. At the same time, it also brings questions. The challenge is and remains to keep our personal relationship with the Lord, our family life, the work of the ministry, and the work in the church in the right balance. That requires wisdom. We ask you to intercede for this on our behalf.
Finally, we want to encourage you with the words of Psalm 3:3-5 “But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.”