Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The theme this Fall was "Fight the good fight of Faith", based on the armor of God from Ephesians. We also had a knights and ladies theme running through the weekend and that was fun. It was exciting that we had quite a group from the Netherlands and Belgium. It is so great that all of these people are able to make so many contacts from all over Europe. It was a real blessing to experience this place of encouragement once again - gives some real strength to fight the good fight!
Posted by The Raabs at 7:21 PM
Monday, September 22, 2008
In September every weekend has an eventful activity. Last weekend we had the honor to take part in the wedding of Robin Huyghebaert and Joyce Agyare.
Robin has been involved with camp weeks from a very young age. When he was 16 he decided to organize a winter camp, because he wanted one and no one else was organizing it. Joyce has always been active in the church in Turnhout and has also helped out with camp the last several years. What a team these two make!
But last week it was just wonderful to see how beautiful they were. Listen Up! sang, several people form their lives took care of parts of the wedding, and we all had a wonderful time sharing this day with them.
The very next weekend we were welcoming a group of young people for our youth weekend in Maastricht. We talked about "A Body Lives", but we did more than just talk about it. We also took the time to put the ideas (a body works together, has to be active, and helps others) into practice at a local playground. We cleaned up the area, then went back and helped each other get ready for dinner. A good group having a good time with an important concept. Fun with friends and learning about God - that's what a youth weekend is all about.
The next few weekends are also full - but more about that as the time comes.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
LIGHT in the Lowlands
Reaching out to the people of Belgium and the Netherlands
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 20-21
Dear brothers and sisters, family and friends,
Where in the world have you been? This is what I hear some of you thinking, especially if you don’t have facebook, flickr or a blog (is he speaking English?). So let me tell you where we’ve been all summer!
Singing, France and Camp
In June we focused on the youth weekend in Maastricht. We not only talked about but also practiced telling others about Jesus. This concluded with a concert by Listen Up! So exciting to see the young people talking and serving others.
This theme continued as we took a group of young people down to Marseille, France for a week. In Marseille we served, learned, sang and put faith into practice. It was an amazing seven days! Scott went with two Verheijen girls, Stephan and Sean, and Isha’s friend, Valéri.
It was so good to see how excited they were to be learning, to be serving at an old-folks home, to be singing - and all of this in French! All of them have mentioned that they plan on returning next year and we have been seeing the fruits of this week ever since in their daily lives.
Back in Belgium July brought the camp season, but before that started ...
... we welcomed a group of high school students from Canada.
Former missionary to Antwerp, Blair Roberts and his wife Susan brought these students to work with several different congregations in Belgium. First they held a Young Friends week in Antwerp, teaching English using the Bible. They also helped out with evangelism in Ghent and went down to camp as counselors. Stephan spent time with them for this whole time and also helped out at camp. In Maastricht we waited for the beginning of August when the students would head over our way for a few days. It was exciting to see how they were helping in so many different places.
By the end of July it was our turn down at Bible camp. This year we had the Teens (11-14 year-olds). We talked about turning the world upside down, as Jesus presents it to us.
It was a great week and started out with a bang:
David van Ginneken, one of our teens, gave his life to Christ on the first day of camp, and that evening Isha Verheijen did the same at home (she had been at Youth camp the week before)!
It is exciting to see new life and the pleasure and determination that these young people bring to that new life. They know how mighty Jesus is and trust that. What an example!
Following Teen camp we continued into Family Camp where Scott presented three lessons (of the 12 or so total lessons) on the Holy Spirit. This was a really challenging week with good discussion, good lessons and challenges, and fantastic examples of the Spirit working in our lives.
As always with camp, the real challenge comes when we have to go home and live as we have just been taught - in our own homes, towns, schools and churches. We are so thankful for the opportunities we have to challenge and encourage one another during the camp weeks. This is a very important time for equipping the Dutch-speaking churches. This summer session of camps was completed with our annual Family Day. We were especially excited that the French-speaking members also came during our fellowship time.
Back in Maastricht we welcomed the Canadian students and were blessed immensely by a short but intense few days of encouragement.
We had talked to our young people about being an example for the students, and we challenged the students to be the same for our young people. Both took up the challenge. We cleaned, played soccer, cooked, visited, talked and distributed - all the while getting to know one another better.
It was especially good to hear our young people share their stories about their lives with God, and vice-versa with the Canadian students. Everyone opened up and was willing to be seen and help each other. We have already seen some real growth an openness in our young people because of this time together.
A new year begins
As the summer ended, we headed into the new school year, planning for several weddings, a youth weekend in Maastricht, a Single’s Retreat, and Fall Camp all coming up. But the summer was an immense encouragement! Thank you Father!
Please keep the following in your prayers.
Continue to pray for Valéri and her parents. She wants to give her life to Christ, but her parents aren’t too sure.
Praise God for our new family members in Maastricht - Isha Verheijen and Susanne Dela!
Pray as we start up our weekly Bible studies with Mieke, RW, LJ and C&T.
Please pray for our upcoming activities including a youth weekend in Maastricht, Single’s Retreat, and two weddings.
Pray for our continuing outreach through the Wiser on the Way courses in the Fall
Pray for guidance for world leaders, also here in Europe.
Did you Know?
Everyone was watching, but we were blessed to be able to root for more than one country. So we were thrilled with the US victories, but also with those from the Netherlands and Belgium. Sometimes we had to shout and cry during the same event.
Michael Phelps was master - Pieter van den Hoogenband was completely out.
Te Dutch took gold in women’s water polo, and the US surprised in the final of the men’s water polo.
The Dutch also won gold in women’s field hockey, jumping and rowing.
Tia Hellebaut brought the gold home for the Belgians in the women’s high jump. (I almost saw her at the airport the day she returned to Belgium)
For sending the Canadian students
For your prayers for our work! New life is coming!
For your good care of Stephan - he is in good hands
What’s coming up?
ON THE FAMILY SIDE . . .
So much can change in such a short time - although to be honest this newsletter is covering a relatively long time period. Let me tell you about the summer.
At the end of June the boys (including Scott) had an adventure in France. Their car broke down on the way to Marseille, so they got to try their hand (tongue) at French with the gendarmerie and AAA before they were finally able to get to Marseille. They had a great week in Marseille singing and sweating. It was a lot warmer there than it was back in Belgium!
When they returned we got the feeling that Stephan was trying to prepare us for his impending departure (or were we trying to prepare him?) by being gone quite a bit. He left for a week to Antwerp to be with some Canadian students, and then headed down to Youth Camp.
Sean knew that he had Mama and Papa to himself, so we went for a special day to Cologne to look at guitars. Sean has been really active in teaching himself guitar, learning new songs and getting a band together.
Check out his band (konverse) on his facebook site.
When we got the chance, we went back to the music store with Stephan as well and since it was near Scott’s birthday, Scott got an early birthday present - a guitar to complement his good ol’ Yamaha (which he bought back in 1983).
For a few short days there was plenty of guitar playing in the house!
After a few weeks of camp we all welcomed the Canadian students to Maastricht, which meant that the guys stayed with us. The last day was also a going-away party for Stephan and Shareya (Shareya is our colleagues’ daughter) as they head to Harding University. It was a beautiful and a beautifully hard evening for us. Scott went to Arkansas with them, to help get Stephan settled in.
Shirley survived all these trips with her typical strength. She went shopping with Mieke (who reads the Bible with Scott ) while everyone was down in Marseille. When Scott and Stephan were checking out the Wal-Mart in Searcy, she was shopping with Willemien, Geesie and Sean - building relationships and getting the necessary done.
Now the new school year has begun. Sean mentioned that he expects it will be better than last year. The new home situation will take a bit longer to get used to. Setting one less place for dinner, making less food, Sean sleeps in Stephan’s bed sometimes. We miss him, but we are so excited for him as well. Stephan is doing great - getting to know lots of good people and learning who he is and will soon be. We are so thankful for a wonderful Father and family!
Sunday, September 07, 2008
This evening we witnessed the birth of Susanne Dela. Our births here are always so very special. Every birth is special - because we get to see God in His saving grace and power raising a loved one from the dead of sin to the newness of life. But in Maastricht, because we do not have a place to baptize people, we are especially blessed. We usually call up the church in Liege and ask to have the birth with them. This makes for a very special relationship. Although most of us in Maastricht speak very little French, and most of the members in Liege speak next to no Dutch and only a few speak English - we both understand the joy of new life. So we sing, pray and are witness to the mighty power of God!
This evening was doubly special. Susanne and her husband have lived in Liege in the past, so the church there know her struggles and journey to this point. So it was especially good for them to be a part of this wonderful birth. And the two families (Maastricht and Liege) were able to renew their ties again. How wonderful it is to be part of the family of God!