Monday, November 19, 2018

... for all the little things

I was recently reminded of various moments in my life that were pivotal. What amazed me is that when I recounted these moments to the person or persons who made the moment such a turning point, they didn’t even remember it. For them it had simply been part of who they were. A comment about what it means to be a follower of Christ, a listening ear when times were difficult, a word of encouragement when I needed it most – these moments in time had printed an image on my memory, but not on theirs. 
A few months back when we had a singing here in Maastricht, people came from Cologne and from Eindhoven. One of the visitors from Eindhoven was a Syrian refugee who has given his life to Christ. At one point, after the singing, he shared his story with one of our contacts who is considering giving her life to Christ, but is scared to death of water. His story, which includes a near-drowning and a similar fear of water, concluded with him showing a video of his own baptism and how beautifully simple and tender it was. 
He didn’t know how important showing that video was. The woman watching wanted to see it at least three more times. And she asked how he ahd overcome his fear. “I knew I was safe with these people.” T. is still struggling with her fear, but those words and that video have stuck with her. I wonder how God will use her in the future as he used the brother from Eindhoven. 
I am so thankful for the little things we all can do in our daily lives. But I am mostly thankful for how God can turn those small things into mighty deeds with His grace. It reminds me that this is the One who took a boys lunch and fed more than 5000, who turned jars for washing into the best wine at the party, who took 12 misfits followers and spread the good news of life all over the world. Of course that last bit is still happening – through you and me. 
Enjoy this weekend (we will be celebrating “Thanksmas” on December 1, which is when most of us will be free and can get together) and remember how mightily God can use your simple words of thanks, your simple deeds of kindness to touch people all over the world and through eternity. Thank you for your prayers for us and for your faithfulness if you are following the One who showed us all how life is to be lived. 

Rejoice always,pray continually,give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Friday, November 09, 2018

Colours of the Seasons

Autumn is a favorite season for me. I love the smells, the colors, the variety in the days. Every day can be different, every week brings new changes. And God’s beauty shows through each day and each change. That is how I experience our Fall activities as well: a varicoloured variety of challenges and changes. 
We do a lot with singing. This is a gift God has given me that I want to continue using in every way possible. At the end of September we got together with the church from Cologne for our annual singing – but this time in Maastricht (the previous times has been halfway between the two cities in Aachen). We invited people from the neighbourhood and were thrilled to welcome visitors in the groups that came from Maastricht, from Cologne and from Eindhoven. The singing was great, but the conversations during the day were even better. 
A few weeks later we were in Eindhoven for our monthly third-week Wednesday singing there. One of the visitors from the singing with Cologne was also present at this evening. And a few weeks later, at the Song Workshop, she was present again. Singing is a time to speak truths to one another and share the emotions that God’s grace puts in our hearts. We are so thankful for those moments. 
At the Song Workshop midway through October we focused on writing new songs. This is the 5th time the workshop has been organized (twice a year, but started in the Fall of 2016), but this time we focused on writing instead of on learning how to sing. In Maastricht we have over 30 songs in our songbook from members of the church in Belgium and the Netherlands, so we know that this is possible. At the end of the day (the workshop is one day, from 10:30am – 4:00pm) we had 8 new songs. We figure at least half of those will wotk their way into the congregations in the coming months. 

(Interested in hearing some of the [very] rough work? Listen to the first recordings from the day here.)

In between all the singing, we went off to play some indoor soccer at the annual tournament for Dutch and Belgian congregations. Scott got to play with some other old guys (and a few young ones: they were the good ones) and both of us were able to have some good conversations. This is a time to encourage members and visitors from outside the congregations. 
In the meantime we also put Sean and Jill on a plane to New York City. We do not know how this adventure will turn out, but we put them both in God’s hands where we know they are safe. We have been very thankful to be able to talk with them every week and get pictures from their adventures there. They will be back in January, but we do not know for how long. 
And so we continue to enjoy the astounding beauty of what God can do – unexpected colours, scenes that take your breath away and the certainties of the seasons. The symphony of colours correspnded with a chorus of activities which continue into the next season. We are thankful to know that God’s beauty shines through all of these moments and we look forward to how He is going to use us in the coming days. 
Would you pray for us in the coming months as we continue with some singing activities, but also with a group that is following our “Meeting Jesus” sessions in Maastricht. And let us know how we can be praying for you.