March â€˜18 - Issue 69 - trimonthly magazine - P206948
R LPH Magazine of the Belgian Evangelical Mission
SEEKING GOD IN THE UPPER ROOM p.7
trees of life p.2 New life through jesus p.4-5
Edith and Ralph p.6
Trees of life
Human history in this world begins and ends with a tree, the tree of life. We find it at the very beginning of the Bible (Genesis 2 v.9), in the middle of the Garden of Eden; and then all access is barred to it following the disobedience of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3 v.22-24) We find it again in the last chapter of the Scriptures (Revelation 22), in the middle of the City of God, this time accessible to all who’ve put their faith in Jesus. In this ‘in between’ stage, God remains the source of life, and His plan for humanity hasn’t changed. We read in the Scriptures that He invites us to choose life (Deuteronomy 30 v.1920). Jesus, God Incarnate, tells us that whoever believes in Him has eternal life (John 6 v.40), that He came to bring us life, life in all its fullness (John 10 v.10), that He is Himself ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14 v.6). Yes, in God is ‘the source of all life’ (1 Timothy 6 v.13). But in this ‘in between’ stage, there exists also another tree, the one that was cut down and made into a cross - the cross on which Jesus gave His life in order to forgive us, to restore our broken relationship with the Father, and to give us eternal life. On the wood of that cross, Jesus changed the whole course of human history. Those who truly give themselves to Him He causes to be born again to a certain hope; He makes
them His brothers and sisters; He invites them to live a new kind of life, “a life of love” (Ephesians 5 v.2). This is a life that’s willing to give itself up in order to serve Him and to speak of Him. At Easter we remember that God loved us so much that He paid the price of our sin Himself. In Christ, He causes us to experience a resurrection that should transform us, and turn our lives upside down. It’s this resurrection that will in the end, allow us to eat freely from the tree of life. For us, the resurrection of Jesus shouldn’t just be something that happened in the past, but a daily reality. The one who’s renewed all things wants to continue renewing us so that His life can overflow into our lives. May we be filled with this life and share it with others wherever we are! So if our Mission’s been spending these last months reflecting on a renewed vision, it’s all in order to communicate this message of life in a way that’s more relevant to our contemporary world. Even if we’re about to celebrate our centenary, we don’t just want to remember the ‘good old days’: we want to look ahead, to step out of our daily routines, out of our comfort zones, so we can live and spread abroad this message of life. Thank you for your prayers and your support.
refers to Ralph Norton. Ralph and his wife Edith founded the
Belgian Evangelical Mission in 1918. The BEM has a desire to bring the Gospel to the Belgian population.
COLO PH ON
This magazine keeps you posted on our work and our workers.
RALPH | 2
Editor Luc Salsac Team Eunice Parodi - Ciara Goossens Kathy Oost - Jan Willem Vink Translation Madeleine Blake/Ruth Trump
Contact Bd Lambermont, 158 1030 Brussels BELGIUM Tel: +32(0)2/241.30.15. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.b-e-m.org Facebook: Belgian Evangelical Mission
News in brief
Calendars and Christmas carols
Eupen - At the approach of Christmas, many B.E.M. ministries organise something special; one example is our German-speaking Mission post in Eupen. Last year, as usual, the church had a stand on the town’s Christmas market. More than 2000 calendars were distributed to passers-by between the 15th and 17th December. Andreas Seidlitz, the pastor, tells us that more and more people admitted they were really looking forward to receiving these calendars and that they appreciate the bible verses. We’re praying that God will use the calendars to touch hearts.
Our urgent appeal for a new co-worker for the administration department has been heard! Rianne Botes comes from the Netherlands and is married to Stephen, who is from South Africa. He will soon be joining the B.E.M. maintenance team. “We were both looking for work and the B.E.M. needed staff. We are helping each other. I can really see the hand of God in all that,” she explained.
Binche - It’s become a tradition in Binche: at Christmas, they sing. This year, the church choir celebrated the coming of the Saviour in three care homes in the town while accompanying the carols with true-life stories. Whilst the music brings a lot of pleasure to those who hear it, it certainly also contributes to building strong links within the little church of Binche, strengthening them spiritually and encouraging them to share their faith with those around them.
The opening in the accounts office has also been filled part-time by Geert Luchtenberg, who is working two days a week. However, we are continuing to pray for a co-worker to fill the post full-time.
B.E.M.’s new vision
Last year, the strategy committee of the B.E.M. worked on developing a new vision for our Mission. A first draft was presented to our co-workers in October. The new vision will finally be approved at our up-coming A.G.M. in April. You’ll be hearing more about all this in the next issue of Ralph.
In the previous issue of RALPH, we presented the little book #Pray4Belgium which includes ten stories of B.E.M. missionaries, past and present. The translations in French, Dutch and German are under way. As soon as they’re available, we’ll let you know. If you would like a copy in Dutch, it can already be ordered at https://www.b-e-m.org/nl/pray4belgium-nl/. RALPH | 3
Whoever believes in me Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water As evangelicals, we’re often deeply moved by incredible, unusual or even surreal testimonies. But then there are those whose stories are never likely to be the subject of a bestseller, but which touch us because they reflect our daily lives. They help our vision of God to grow more, perhaps, because they’re about people we could come across any day - a neighbour, an office colleague or a son’s best friend.
Thank you for your grace, please use me
For Bruno, it all began when he went with his wife to visit a friend who was convalescing after an operation. They bumped into Eric and Anne, who had come to thank God that all had gone well. Prayer was not a foreign concept to Bruno. As a child, he’d had a religious upbringing; Mass every Sunday, Catholic religion in school, Catholic Scout movement – he’d even sung in the parish choir. But as an adolescent, caught up in other preoccupations, he’d pushed religion to one side, without denying the notion of deity. In fact, eight years earlier, when his world was crumbling around him, he’d many times turned to God to ask for help or a sign. Now, he was struck by a different type of prayer: a prayer that rang true, full of humanity but also said with conviction by adults. At a Christmas meal a week later, Bruno and his family met the Christian fellowship ‘L’Autre Rive’ of Gembloux for the first time. This service was followed by many others, until God convinced him that he was loved by his heavenly Father. Deeply moved, Bruno invited God into his life and was baptised in October 2017. Since he met Jesus, Bruno has come a long way. Impatience, dissatisfaction, and fear of the future, have gradually been replaced by trust. He’s been devouring the Word of God that shows him, for example, the story of the manna in the wilRALPH | 4
At Easter time, we remember that all things are made new in Christ Jesus; so these two testimonies are very appropriate. Bruno lives in Wallonia, David in Flanders and there is an age gap between them of 30 years! So what do they have in common? They both met Jesus through a B.E.M. ministry: the former within the Christian fellowship ‘L’Autre Rive’, the latter during the SportQuest activity weeks for teenagers. They’re both now walking daily with their Lord, being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory.
derness and the call to believe that God would provide for the next day – a radically new concept for Bruno. If for example he doesn’t have time to read the Bible that day, he just talks to His Lord, thanking God for His presence and asking Him for guidance. Allowing someone else to take charge of
his life is also very new to him. Looking back, he can now see that God was in fact always at his side; today he knows he’s going forward with his hand in God’s hand. Bruno is not alone; he’s part of a fellowship, and makes his contribution by sharing in the teaching, in both large and small group settings. He’s discovering praise songs with their strong, meaningful words, he meditates on the questions that the leader puts to those present, and when sitting round the tables with his brothers and sisters, he feels part of the family. He’s taken note of the fellowship’s deep desire to be part of the local community in Gembloux, and has gradually
begun to make use of the gifts God has given him. His experience with young people’s organisations has encouraged him to join the team that, once a month, welcomes children from all backgrounds, inviting them to discover Jesus through the programmes created by ‘La Courte Echelle ‘ (‘Boost’ – the B.E.M. children’s ministry). He’s also part of the team that visits an old people’s home every month, with the aim of trying to help address the problem of loneliness. Sometimes, he takes along his daughter, a real ray of sunshine in the daily life of these older folk. Perhaps one day, who knows, Bruno might even play his saxophone for the old people? Interview/text: Eunice Parodi
My life is better with You
My parents gave me a catholic education. We didn’t often go to church, except at Christmas when we were staying with our grandparents. Whenever I thought about faith, it made me think of the hard, sour-faced nuns at my confirmation. As I grew up, I began to mock religion: I thought intelligent people didn’t believe in God. Then came a time when my schoolwork was going badly. My parents were beginning to get worried: in my family passing exams is very important. In the third year of secondary school, I met Florian who became my best friend. He was a Christian and he invited me to SportQuest. I decided to go. What a great week! However, the faith aspect of the week left me cold, for I was thinking inside, “How can God exist, when I’m still getting such bad marks?”
The next year wasn’t easy. At school people were very nasty to me and my parents were going through a marital crisis. That summer, Florian invited me to SportQuest again. I really liked Oliver, one of the leaders. I’d always thought Christians were terribly serious, but with him I could relax and have a good laugh. I also met Kurt Maeyens there, and felt really accepted by the group. I was touched by their mutual respect and their love for outsiders. It was wonderful after those long months when I’d felt so alone at school and at home. I asked Oliver and Kurt to explain what motivated them. They spoke to me about Jesus and I was touched. They were Flemish, just like me; we understood each other really well. Oliver said to me, “I can tell you a hundred and one things about Jesus, but it’s up to you to give Him a chance.” When I came home, I did just that. I didn’t really know how to pray. With my hands together, I said something like,” God, if you’re there, I want to feel and know that you can see me.” The next day, I went for a walk with the young people from church. I said, “I think I want to know more.” They invited me to the service: what a difference from the catholic service! It was modern and it spoke to me personally. I began to read my Bible and had the impression I was changing - somehow, my life was better. I felt that God was there and that He was working in my life. I was baptised at 18. For the occasion my mum organised a great little celebration for me and my Christian friends. Soon after, I met Femke, who is now my wife.
Interview: Kathy Vink-Oost Text: Jan-Willem Vink RALPH | 5
The edith column
Fokkeline Maeyens It was the morning of a weekday that promised to be very busy. I took my coffee and went out to sit in the sun on the terrace to relax a while. I was thinking about my responsibilities, my time and my life. Suddenly my thoughts turn to Ralph, to his way of life and his mission – such a special individual; his way of life is an example and a source of inspiration for my spiritual life. I learn so many spiritual lessons from Ralph! He focusses of what he is doing, steadfast and unwavering. He is fixed on his objective. He spends a lot of time there where trenches have been dug. Why? What is the attraction? What is he after? It must be so dark down there! He can see in the dark. Fearless, using every effort, he attains his objective! He is persistent, full of zeal and enthusiasm. I wish I had his energy. And when he takes a rest, you can see him meditating and dreaming of God’s wonderful creation, so much wider than his own little world. And it’s a bountiful creation. Appetite for the fruit of the vine has taken hold of his mind and his whole being. All around him may be arid and dry but he is not discouraged… quite the contrary. He is spurred on to more effort in order to reach the desired fruit. He does not forget to take care of himself. He eats well and drinks plenty of water so that his body will be able to accomplish the task on which he is fixed. It’s a balanced way of life that has an impact on his well-being and his purpose in life. It’s as though he understands how important it is to be strong internally in order to have power for action externally. Food and water are enough, he needs nothing more. Yes, Ralph is one of a kind… Ralph, our pet rabbit!
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If I could be one of the apostles for a day, I would choose Peter
IntErview Guy Cauwels, who’s 58, leads the newest ministry in the B.E.M. ‘The Upper Room’ is a prayer ministry situated on the top floor of the BEM offices in Brussels. Here, in this Upper Room time stands still as we seek God in prayer for the B.E.M. and for our land. ‘RALPH’ met our new colleague and asked him a few questions so we could get to know him personally. First of all, what makes you laugh out loud? I enjoy the humour of the Belgian comedian Urbanus. His jokes are often both absurd and go to the heart of the issue. I grew up with his shows, and when I was a camp leader, I would invariably do an Urbanus impression. Who’s your favourite preacher? In Belgium, I have great respect for Wilfried Goossens, (former director of the BEM). He was the one who taught me how to preach. Looking beyond our borders, I think of Craig Groeschel and then Francis Chan. Chan goes straight to the point: he has very good arguments which he develops well. I find this really riveting. If you could change something in the world today, what would it be? In fact, I wouldn’t change anything. The only thing you can change is people. And the only way to do that is to tell them the good news of the Gospel. But the world will always stay the world and sin will always be present. If someone told you that Jesus would be coming back next year, what would you change? I would immediately give up my job, live on my savings and give all my time to evangelism. Apart from that, is there something I would want to change in myself? You know, when you come before the throne of God, nothing else mat-
ters. He knows everything there is to know about us but He is still merciful. If you could spend a day as one of the disciples, who would it be and which day would you choose? Peter, of course! But I feel torn between two episodes - either when he stepped out of the boat to walk on the water, or the transfiguration on the mountain. Walking on the water seems to me a greater challenge, so I’ll opt for that. If you were to write an autobiography, what would you call it? Wow, I can’t see myself writing a book! But perhaps someone else could do it for me! (laughter). The title that comes to my mind is ‘The Sinner Found.’ Thirty-six years ago, God found me and, since then, I’ve come a long way from my former life. Any alternate titles? ‘Guy sought and found’ or ‘The talkative pray-er,’ - though that sounds a bit like a comic strip by Willy Vandersteen. When was the last time you felt really encouraged in your faith? For just over a year, we’ve had elders in the church in Aalst, and I’m one of them. We have a super team, but it took quite a time for us all to get on the same wave-length. Everyone had their own ideas. But patience led us to a consensus and in the end we all came out stronger for it.
UPPER ROOM? At a conference thirty-two years ago, Guy heard the text from Isaiah 58 v.11-12: “you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” This passage came back to him several times over the following years. After much prayer, little by little God brought him to understand that he should begin a ministry of prayer. The B.E.M. shares this vision, and suggested in June 2017 that they work together on the project. An ‘Upper Room’ day begins with a cup of coffee, followed by praise and prayers of thanksgiving. Then, we sing and we pray, especially for the B.E.M. At the moment, the ‘Upper Room’ is made up of three B.E.M. missionaries who try to get together regularly. But the idea is for everyone in the Mission to get involved. Prayer reveals to us the power of God. Interview: Ciara Goossens RALPH | 7
celebrate BEm Conference 2018
With the 100th birthday of the Mission just around the corner, our biennial retreat week was on the theme of Celebrate. On the programme were not only teaching sessions, prayer times, and an evening of praise and testimony, but also a table tennis tournament, games and many opportunities to get together and chat… whether in French, in Dutch, in German or in English - or failing all of the above, just by big gestures!
email@example.com United States BEM Inc PO Box 2255 Buford , GA 30515 Tel: 001 404.248.7868 USBEM@bellsouth.net Lisa_rob_clark@bellsouth.net Bank info: Routing: 061000227 Account: 2000127122209
United Kingdom Belgian Evangelical Mission – UK PO Box 617 Epsom, Surrey KT17 9JQ Bank account: CAF Bank, 25 Kings Hill Avenue Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4JQ Sort code: 40 52 40 Account Number: 00008831
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Magazine of the Belgian Evangelical Mission - March 2018