INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY: NETHERLANDS 2019
I had the wonderful opportunity to take my second ministry trip to the Netherlands this November. It has been two years since my first trip. I was deeply humbled to be invited back and saw the Lord do many things through my time in this beautiful country.
The last time I was in the Netherlands, I stayed at the full-time Bible School, which was located in Hilversum. At that time, they were in a building that had space for the students and staff to live as well as a multi-purpose room that was used for services, meals and other gatherings. Since that time, the Lord has miraculously provided them with a three-story building with its own chapel, large industrial kitchen, dining hall, living space, housing for more staff families as well as office space. It was amazing to see how the Lord is blessing and expanding their work as they endeavor to spread the Gospel throughout the Netherlands and other countries.
Now, several ministries are headquartered there in the new building in Amerongen. One is the full-time Gospel Mission Bible School that I worked with on the last trip. In addition to that, they have the Filadelphia part-time Bible School, and ministries called Heart for the Family and Heart for the Congregation. I had the opportunity to work with each of these ministries during this trip.
I really had to rely on the grace of God and the prayers of His people in the first several days. My first flight was delayed and caused me to arrive in Amsterdam at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning. We had an hour drive to the school, and I taught four sessions that day. Two of them were about living a life free from hypocrisy as Christians and the other two were about addiction and biblically counseling addicts. I received a lot of great feedback about how the Lord had used the teachings to encourage and equip the students to carry on their ministries. There were about eighty students in the part-time school, training on the weekends to be used by the Lord in various capacities.
The next day, I traveled with Leander, a close friend and also one of the leaders of the Bible School, to a church where he was speaking in a nearby town. One of the church members was kind enough to translate for me, and I had the opportunity to share a short testimony with the church at the end of the message. Then, after some fellowship and a meeting with one of the leaders of another ministry, I prepared myself for a busy week.
Monday through Thursday from morning until early afternoon was spent with the full-time Bible School students. There are thirteen of them enrolled this year and three of the students from last year also joined us for the lessons. I taught three hours each day on the Crucified Life, with Luke 9:23 as the theme verse. The overall message of the teachings is that, as we die to ourselves, Jesus is able to live His life through us, which is the greatest life we can live. The content was heavy, so there were many questions and comments, but also many searching their hearts and seeking the Lord for His help. It is always refreshing to be with young people who are hungry, not just for knowledge, but to allow the Lord to challenge them. Fellowshipping with the students throughout the trip was one of the highlights for me. I was able to record the testimonies of six of them and put them in a playlist on my YouTube channel. I will post the link at the end of this article.
That Monday evening, I was able to take an hour drive with Leander, who I met two years ago and became like brothers, to Germany to have some fellowship together. We enjoyed some great German food and had the chance to pray with our waitress. It was a wonderful to take a trip together and the time we spent was very special.
On Tuesday night, I spoke for a marriage event with Heart for the Family. This ministry is led by a brother named Job, and it seeks to provide ministry to people at various stages in life, such as singles, couples, men, women and parents. We had around forty people come out and I shared on the theme, “Are You Ready for the Wedding?” I spoke about the chief purpose of marriage: to represent Christ’s love for the Church. I gave them six principles to apply to their marriages. Several thanked me for what I shared.
On Thursday night, we traveled to a town outside of Rotterdam with Heart for the Family and I spoke for a men’s meeting. I shared about living in purity in a sexualized culture. After I spoke, the men split up into small groups to discuss, and I was impressed by the openness that these men had to share about their own struggles and to encourage one another. One man came to share with me that he had confessed his struggles to his wife and got accountability as a direct result of hearing my testimony during my last trip there. It was a blessing to see the fruit of my time spent there in 2017.
Friday was set aside for a minister’s conference for Heart for the Congregation. Around 140 ministers came in from around the country for the conference. I had the opening session and I shared my testimony as an example of what can happen when we do not guard our hearts in ministry. I shared about the importance of transparency and the danger of leading an unexamined life. Two other brothers shared that day as well, and I was told that several of the attendees had significant breakthroughs in their lives that day to the glory of God!
Saturday, I was able to travel with another precious brother named Martin, who leads the Bible School with Leander. We met some friends of ours, Pieter and Gerdina, and went to see their hometown called Urk. It is a fisherman village and I was able to walk around the town, go up in a lighthouse, walk the pier and have some wonderful fellowship with these precious brothers and sister. It was great to hear their testimonies and to learn more about the culture. I had the chance to share a brief testimony with our waiter who admitted that he did not believe in God but that he found it strange because I was not the first person to share a testimony like this with him. He said it was making the hair on his arms stand up. I encouraged him that the Lord was pursuing him and gave him contact info in case he ever had any questions.
Sunday, my wife, Brittany, arrived and I was able to finally introduce her to some of the friends I had made two years prior. We had some fellowship and then travelled to Rotterdam that evening for a service at a Pentecostal Church that I had spoken at twice the last time I had come. Pastor Hugo and his wife are doing a great work in a difficult area. I spoke about the worthiness of Christ. It was a great service and I was really glad to have a chance to see these precious people again.
Monday and Tuesday, Brittany and I were able to travel by train to Belgium and have some much needed rest. On Wednesday, we travelled with the Bible School students to a town about an hour away where they were beginning a three-day evangelistic campaign. We had some worship and prayer and then teams went out to the homes to speak with the people and invite them out to a meeting that night. While they went out, Brittany and I stayed with a couple of students to pray for the teams. After lunch, Brittany and I were able to go out and share the Gospel in town. It was very interesting to hear people speak about their spiritual lives. Many of the conversations were similar to the ones we would have here in the U.S. One college student in particular was agnostic, but allowed Leander and I to share our testimonies and to encourage him to come to Christ. He said he would consider what we shared. That night, I spoke at the meeting and shared about the woman at the well in John 4.
Thursday, Brittany and I were able to see the Corrie Ten Boom house in Haarlem. It is a great ministry, where they take you through the home, show you the hiding place and share the Gospel with everyone who goes through. We also went to see a castle in Muider and then met with a brother named Arjan for dinner. He is the leader of Heart Cry, a movement in the country that began several years ago and birthed all of the other ministries that I was a part of there. It was a great time to connect with him and have fellowship together. And I was encouraged to hear about all that the Lord was doing throughout the country.
One unique aspect of this trip was the way that my testimony tied into the meetings. Usually, I share my testimony in a general way, but this time I ended up sharing it from a variety of different perspectives. I shared it in the context of getting free from hypocrisy. I shared it from the perspective of addiction in general. I shared my battle with sexual sin in another meeting. I shared the history of my ministry to a group of ministers. I shared the story of our marriage to couples. It was an interesting ministry dynamic, trying to figure out how to share in these different contexts, but the people in those meetings appreciated hearing what the Lord did in my life, because many of them could relate. The Lord certainly knows how to bring about good out of what the devil meant for evil!
I want to encourage you to pray for the Netherlands. The culture is very interesting and diverse. In some ways, it reminds me of the United States. It is a highly liberal culture and is leading the way for many of the liberal trends that we are experiencing in our country now. There is a very liberal part of the church in the country that is rejecting the sufficiency of Scripture and traditional Christian values. Then, there are traditional churches that believe such a strong version of Calvinism that they teach people that they cannot know that they are saved unless some mystical experience happens to them. I was told there are churches with a couple thousand people and the only ones who take communion are a small handful of them because they are the only ones with assurance of faith. In fact, if someone gets saved and begins to share their faith, they are often ostracized by the community because people have the attitude, “Who do you think you are to think you are chosen?”
These extremes in the culture of the church make ministry very challenging. And yet, in the midst of all of the secular culture and vast theological differences in the church, the Lord is raising up men and women of God, born again of His Spirit, and called by Him, with a passion to be trained, equipped and sent into the country to take the Gospel to the Dutch people. I believe the Lord will accomplish many amazing things in this country in the years to come!
I want to emphasize how thankful I am for the prayers and support of our ministry followers. I am fully aware that I could not do what God has called me to do without people like you standing behind Make Way Ministries. The Lord has much more in store, and if you would like to sow into the ministry financially, just go to our Donate Page and it will take you to our secure giving portal. Your tax-deductible gift enables us to take the Gospel throughout the U.S. and to the nations as the Lord opens the doors. Thanks for being an amazing group of supporters!
Also, I created a playlist of vlogs that I recorded onsite during the trip.
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.