Hoogstraten becomes independent
After twenty three years as pastoral couple in Hoogstraten, Corneel and Lia Crezee are handing over to three elders. The mission post is joining the Flemish Free Church denomination (the VEG) which includes over 31 churches. Asked about their future, Corneel and Lia replied:” Our wedding text was Jeremiah 17 v. 7-8. Its message that the one who trusts in God bears fruit even in a dry season has always been the guiding principle of our life. We want to continue building his Kingdom in Belgium.”
New calendars and much more…
The 2018 calendars have arrived! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our bookshops to order any of these terrific tools for sharing gospel truths in a very attractive format. And for your Christmas gifts, think BEM bookshops (LBL or HGB). There’s a wide choice of Bibles, books for young and old, in addition to beautiful watercolours, or attractive mugs with bible verses -all waiting for you in our bookshops in Brussels, Courtrai, Ghent, Genk, Liège and Louvain. For further details go to www.hetgoedeboek.be or www.lebonlivre.be
Renovations are going full steam ahead in the former café which is gradually being transformed into a welcoming space where the fragrance of Christ can be shared – but it’s all taking longer than expected. For example, the roof needs to be completely redone. This is not all bad, it gives us the opportunity to re-focus our priorities, let the neighbours see who we are and begin to establish good relationships with them… So in one sense the ministry has already begun. Please pray for the necessary finances, for willing and capable volunteers, and for God to send a missionary to work here either full-time, or nearly full-time.
The Cools and Arlon, a story that just keeps on going…
Born in Antwerp, André was three when the family migrated to Wallonia. It was in the Evangelical Church at Mouscron that he learned to love God and to want to serve Him. At seven, he already knew he wanted to become a pastor. On completing his schooling, military service and a few short-term jobs, he left to study at the Belgian Bible Institute in Brussels. At twenty-five, he was on pastoral placement at the Evangelical Church in Quiévrain.
The great Arlon adventure began on September 1st 1977. (And as soon as he arrived he was invited to join the BEM’s evangelism committee for their monthly meetings in Brussels.) The church was small, elderly and somewhat sad. As they’d been without a local pastor for 30 years, the frustrations in the congregation were obvious. But this was to reckon without the determination of their new pastor; he knew that faith can move mountains.
In 1979, André married Annie, a member of an independent church in Mons. God has blessed them with four children and six grand-children. André arrived in the Ardennes without a penny in his pocket, but God has watched over them and He’s always provided for their needs.
In forty years of ministry in Arlon, a lot has happened. First of all, there was the construction of a fine new church building, followed by its recognition, by royal decree, as a place of worship. The church brings together all ages; there are groups for young people and children, ladies’ meetings, a choir and various bible study groups – including one that’s met fortnightly in Bastogne for the past twenty-five years. Church services are translated for the deaf and hard of hearing, – a great success. And then, above all, the church continues to work actively as part of the local community, to be open to the needs of outsiders, while remaining focussed on the essential – the proclamation of the Gospel, through media- radio, television, or tract distribution… So in fact, they’re active on all fronts! The church is looking to the future and wants to continue to grow, being a good witness locally and aiming to maintain absolute integrity in the proclamation of the Gospel.
Since September 2003, André has also been the pastor for the BEM Mission post in Saint-Mard, some twenty-five kilometres from Arlon. Here a small but faithful group meets on Sunday evenings, sharing deep Christian fellowship together.
Gembloux – When a one-off event spawns a new regular outreach.
At the end of August, the BEM Mission post in Gembloux teamed up with our children’s department ‘Boost’ in organising a week of children’s evangelism in the town. But when it’s God’s timing, the doors swing wide open!
The church community had prepared well, both practically and prayerfully; some had even taken a day or two off work. Young people from the BEM mission posts in Hannut and Herstal came to lend a hand. The particular neighbourhood was chosen and permission granted by the local authority. The team was able to rent premises near the play-ground where the activities were to be held. Parents and children were thrilled to welcome the team. Local officials appreciated the initiative. About thirty children participated each day. And even the weather was kind, turning out to be the best week of the summer.
The story of Jesus, the greatest Super hero of all, the one who came down from heaven, was explained to enquiring young minds. Armed with love, his mission was to give his life and win victory over death. The children heard about God’s extraordinary deeds, -the sea that opened up, the city walls that fell down- and they learned about the super-powers of nature. Some children were so keen, they were waiting in the mornings for the team to arrive, even though things were only due to start at the beginning of the afternoon. Refreshments on the final afternoon brought together the parents, the children, the team, and even the mayor who was present for the occasion.
But this isn’t the end of the story. The enthusiasm was such that children were asking for more of the same– not only next summer but also during the year. So in September, in response to this demand, the L‘Autre Rive’ church community began a monthly Saturday afternoon children’s club. This initiative has motivated the church fellowship, and people are joining in wholeheartedly to help. And the icing on the cake is that the community hall has been provided by the local authority free of charge!