A Great Time of Ministry in Europe!
My fourth trip to the Netherlands was a fruitful one. I’m so grateful for the connection that the Lord has made between Make Way Ministries and several ministries in that country. The Netherlands has an interesting culture, with a rich Christian heritage and significance in world history. As I’ve traveled there over the years, it has become more clear to me how Satan has used both worldliness and religion to keep many Dutch people in bondage. On the one hand, you have about fifty percent of the country who claim to be atheists or agnostics today. The lure of sex and drugs brings people from around the world to Amsterdam, where prostitution is not only legal, but considered one of many other career choices a person can make. I was told by a pastor that other cities in the country are now starting similar “red light district” areas and that prostitutes have even unionized. The sensuous culture and worldly influence has created an atmosphere for the enemy to seduce people away from the faith.
On the other hand, there is a deeply religious half of the country that trace their Christian heritage back to the time of the Protestant Reformation. Theology is held in very high regard among the Christians in the Netherlands, and unfortunately, an intense dedication to the teachings of John Calvin have left many people in a religious rut. Being taught that salvation is something that we can do nothing to obtain and a very strong emphasis on God’s sovereignty keeps people from engaging with simple aspects of true faith including repentance and believing in Jesus for salvation. Because of this, many young people in those churches live in open sin, with the belief that if God is going to select them to be saved, it will happen without any effort on their part. It’s interesting to see how truth can be distorted just enough that it can bring great deception into the lives of people. Many of the born-again believers that I have met over the years had grown up in these churches that they refer to as “hypercalvinist.” Some have left those churches for other churches with a more evangelical message. Others have chosen to stay in the traditional churches in hopes of being a testimony to the people there. Thank God that He can get a hold of someone’s heart who his open to Him!
The First Sunday Service
I made it to the Netherlands safely after two flights and reconnected with many of my friends and ministry partners after a year and a half. The next morning, I preached in a church for the first time in the town of Ermelo. They have a vibrant community of young families who prioritize relationships with one another. Each week, they take communion together, worship, eat a meal and then fellowship at each other’s homes into the afternoon. The church has a policy that if their attendance grows close to 100 people, they will split off, as they do not want to grow too large to keep their intimacy. They already started a sister church for this reason. I spoke from Matthew 12 about Jesus’ clash with the Pharisees over the issue of the Sabbath and talked about the difference between religion and relationship. I had a chance to go to the elder’s home and have a great time of fellowship with many of the believers. It was a blessing to connect with many of the students from my previous trips to the Netherlands, some even from my first trip in 2017. It was humbling to hear how many of them could still remember some of the things I taught and they shared how it had impacted their lives, glory to God!
Teaching at the Gospel Mission Bible School
The next day, I began teaching a series of six lessons with the Gospel Mission Bible School students. These lessons took place Monday-Wednesday for three hours in the morning. My previous trips have all been in November, so this trip was unique in that I was teaching on the final week of their school year. At the end of the week, they would all pack up after a year of study and head to other parts of the Netherlands and some even in other countries to serve the Lord. To hear their zeal for the Gospel and willingness to sacrifice to serve the Lord was very encouraging. The weeks’ lessons were all based on the topic of “Principles for the Worker in God’s Vineyard.” I taught on the fear of man, finances, loving the people you serve, pride and humility, prayer and fasting and several other topics. The students were hungry to learn and had some very thoughtful questions and comments. It was a blessing to get to know them, just before they launched out into their own ministry assignments.
Men’s Night with Heart for the Family
On Tuesday evening, I was invited by Job, the leader of a ministry called Heart for the Family, to speak to a group of men on the topic, “Men, Rise Up!” I’ve worked with their ministry several times in the past, and I so appreciate Job’s heart to provide quality ministry to families in the Netherlands. We traveled to a town called Krimpen aan den IJssel. After a time of food, prayer and fellowship at the home of some friends, we headed to the meeting. Gideon was my translator for the night, and he did a great job. Quite a few men came out, some I’ve met in the past, and others I met for the first time. I shared twelve principles from the story of Nehemiah that reveal how men can rise up to their calling from the Lord to be the men He created them to be. The men were very responsive and our time of small group discussion after the message showed their desire to apply the principles to their own lives. It was a great night of ministry and we left encouraged that the Lord had spoken to many hearts.
Church Service in Westkapelle
The following evening I left with Arjan, the leader of HeartCry Ministries. I met Arjan on my first trip to the Netherlands and God has used him in a great way to foster of movement of young people in the country with a desire to know and serve the Lord. We travelled to Westkapelle, a beautiful town right on the ocean in south Holland with an evangelist friend of ours named Arthur. Before the service, we had time to pray along the ocean and have some food and fellowship. We had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a young man in an ice cream shop. He was clearly searching for meaning in his life, and we had a chance to share testimony and talk about what Jesus had done in our lives. He allowed us to pray with him and we asked the Lord to reveal Himself in a tangible way to the young man.
We then went to a church in the nearby neighborhood, where I spoke on the life of Solomon. I shared about his life and how he had so much potential in the Lord, being blessed with such wisdom and influence, and yet he used it for personal gain and his life ended on a downward spiral. I warned the people to make sure that we all stay true to the Lord, obeying the Word, keeping our passions in check and submitting our wills to His. It was a great service and a blessing to meet Pastor Jochem, who translated me, as well as his congregation.
The next morning, I took a train to Amsterdam to attend the Amsterdam23 conference. A couple of months ago, I connected with the lead evangelist of our denomination, and he mentioned that there would be a big evangelistic conference in Amsterdam in June. It just happened to be on the week that I was already in the Netherlands, so I felt that the Lord was wanting me to attend. Thursday was the only day I had free, so I went to the conference all that day. It was an amazing experience. Thousands of believers from 80 countries had come together to discuss how we can reach the world with the Gospel. There were some big services, breakout sessions and collaborative group discussions on the topic of evangelism. I was able to connect with many people and was so encouraged in my own life and ministry. To be able to meet people from all different countries, with one important focus, was a beautiful experience. I had a difficult time finding the series of trains to get back to the Bible School, but the Lord had me bump into a man named Wim, who guided me through the train stations as well as drove me back to the Bible School that night. The entire time, we were sharing testimonies with each other. He had an amazing testimony of how the Lord had saved him, and so many stories of the Lord’s provision and guidance throughout his life. It was certainly a divine connection, and I was very grateful to have met him.
The Filadelfia Bible School Conference
The final weekend of the trip, we had a conference for the Filadelfia Bible School students. I spoke three messages on the topic of Discipleship. There were about 80 students in attendance, and we had a wonderful weekend together. My good friend and the leader of the school, Leander, translated me for the messages. It is always a rich blessing to minister together, and have deep conversations about our hearts throughout the trip. My messages were on the Call, the Work and the Heart of the Disciple. I really enjoyed speaking on what it means to truly follow Jesus as well as give practical instruction on how to develop an evangelistic lifestyle. Throughout the weekend, I had a chance to talk one-on-one with many people. Whenever I share my testimony, it is not uncommon for a man to pull me aside for ministry because he is struggling with sexual sin in his life. I had several of those discussions that weekend and I believe that the Lord really ministered to many. One young man in particular had a huge breakthrough in his spiritual life during the conference. God is so good! We had some time for fellowship as well as an afternoon to play sports, and I ended up playing volleyball for a couple of hours, which was a lot of fun.
My final message on the heart was one that I had struggled with the whole time I was preparing for the trip. I wanted to share from the Sermon on the Mount, but I couldn’t seem to really nail down what the Lord wanted me to say. After delivering the message, we opened up a time for responding to the Lord, and several were deeply moved, kneeling down, praying and weeping before the Lord. I was grateful that the Lord used the message despite my own insecurities and being unsure about the message.
The Last Sunday Services
My final day of ministry was Sunday. Due to the Filadelfia conference continuing on that day, I wasn’t able to go with anyone into the city of Rotterdam. I borrowed a car and had to trust the Lord to get me where I needed to go. I first traveled to a Romanian congregation, led by a friend of mine named Chris. His wife is from Romania, and they started a church for people in the area who speak the Romanian language. This was the second time I had spoken at their church. I shared a message about making sure our intimacy with the Lord is kept the top priority in our lives. It was a blessing to be with them, and I always love hearing worship and prayer to the Lord in other languages.
After the service, I met with Pastor Hugo and his wife Ilse, the pastors of ACR Rotterdam Pentecostal church. I speak at their church every time I go to the Netherlands, but this was the first time we were able to spend some time together for fellowship. It was a rich time of conversation, as we spoke about ministry challenges as well as getting to know one another on more personal level. We spent the afternoon together, and I preached that night about keeping the fire of God burning in our lives. The people were very responsive. I prayed for many and the Holy Spirit spoke to many of them. One lady was in need of a house, and was in a very desperate situation. Pastor Hugo reached out a few days after the trip that the Lord had provided her with a beautiful home. What a faithful God we serve!
Overall, my fourth trip to the Netherlands proved to be very fruitful for the Kingdom. I have seen how the Lord has given me the unique ability to not only cross over cultural boundaries, but also to minister across denominational boundaries. It is such a blessing to be able to have fellowship with people from all areas of the church, because I can see how each part of the Body of Christ has strengths that we can all learn from. Sometimes, we allow our differences to keep us from coming together as one. But all of us have some to offer the Body of Christ, and my prayer is that we would all take time to fellowship with believers from other backgrounds. I’m encouraged to see how the Lord is continuing to raise up young people in the Netherlands with a calling on their lives, and how He is bringing people of all ages into a saving faith. Despite the enemy’s attack on the country, God is at work, and I believe the seeds that were planted on the trip will come to harvest in God’s timing.
Thank you to each of you who prayed for the trip as well as financially support Make Way Ministries. Trips like this do not happen without the prayer and financial support of people who give their time and money sacrificially so that lives can be touched around the world. To make a tax-deductible gift to Make Way Ministries to help us reach the nations for Christ, you can go to our Donate page.