Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

That’s family

Family Camp is actually a week for all of us to get together who want to know God better. This year, as in past years, the group is made up of families, singles, grandparents and even some kids without their parents. I love seeing how God sees family.

Our lessons this year came from 1 Thessalonians, and one of the things mentioned by one of the teachers this week, Blair Roberts, was that we don’t choose who is in our family – God does the choosing. Our responsibility is to live with each other and help one another to grow. And I know that plenty of people could see and feel that we wanted to do just that. This year included a family from Bulgaria (the girls had been to Benjamin and Teen camp already), an avowed atheist who keeps coming back, and some helpers in the kitchen who really enjoyed the fellowship as well.

What does your family look like? When I became a christian, I gained a whole new family, leaving my physical family behind (for a while). Living overseas, with physical family far away, we have always been aware of the blessing of God’s family. We don’t choose ‘em and it isn’t always easy to live with ‘em (or with us, I am sure), but it is soooo good to have this family God has given us. What a blessing!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


The week between Benjamin Camp and Family Camp this year was filled with some unexpected meetings and encouragements. The Pan European Lectureships were held this year in Brussels. This is a gathering of people, mostly American, who are concerned with reaching the lost in Europe. Those Europeans who can make it (time-wise and financially) are able to report on the situation where they are and meet others who are working in Europe.
Until this year we have not been able to go. It has previously been held in Athens, Rome, Estonia, Poland and several other places, usually quite far from us. It is also usually in the middle of our camp season – as with this year. But this year it was in Brussels, our backyard. Besides which, Dottie Schulz was going to be there! Dottie and Tom Schulz are one of the reasons we are in the Netherlands and Belgium now, so we definitely wanted to see her.
But we were also pleasantly surprised at the spirit and desire of all the people we met and saw and heard during the mornings that we could be present in Brussels. Hearing about people who have struggled to remain faithful in all that they do is always a wonderful encouragement. And that is exactly what we received from people like S.F. Timmerman, Clyde Antwine and others. What was so encouraging was seeing how struggle is not something that goes away – it is something through which God carries you, with His strength.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that those old people in your church are boring or stodgy. Take time to sit down an dlisten to their stories and how God is blessing them NOW. What a blessing God has given us by placing us in His family!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Benjamin Camp

Every year the churches in Belgium and the Netherlands organize four weeks of Bible camp down in the beauty of the Ardennes mountains. This site which was wisely purchased more than 40 years ago still serves the church well. Through the years it has been adapted, built up and thankfully used by the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking congregations here. And as I have mentioned so often before, this has been a very important tool here for the kingdom. We are so thankful for those who have gone before and those who are willing to put in a week of heat, or mud, or less sleep in order to make sure that the young people here are built up in their faith, or introduced to God.

This year Shirley and I were camp leader and head cook for the Benjamins. This should be 8-10 year-olds, but this year was a little different. Thanks to the initiative of a brother in Haarlem who works with children in difficult situations, we had five kids who had never been to Bible camp before. As a matter of fact, two of them were moslim. So our week’s theme: “Searching for Jesus Christ” was very appropriate. We had some really great discussions and questions.

Blair Roberts has been visiting this summer from Canada and was able to bring the lessons (with a good Antwerp accent even!) as well as help drive the kids around. Stephan helped as the boys’ counselor and Sean helped out in the kitchen along with our sister, Geesie. We were especially surprised with a girls’ counselor who usually has other responsibilities. Gilda Amssoms is over 60 years old and usually runs the kitchen for a different week, but since we hadn’t been able to find a counselor, she offered her services. What a blessing! It is so great how God fills our needs and surprises us at the same time!

Our 15 campers had a great week learning, playing and being challenged by the activities, the weather and the relationships we formed together. We are so glad that God has given us this opportunity! Keep these kids in your prayers as they continue to grow in knowledge and faith.