[by Kurt Maeyens, president of the BEM Board of Directors]
For almost a century, the BEM has been responding in its own way, to the missionary call of the Master (Matthew 28), by planting churches and doing evangelism in Belgium.
In 2015, when I became Director for the Dutch and German-speaking ministries, it was my heart-felt desire that Peter Hartman, Luc Salsac and I should seek God together, and ask ourselves the following questions: How can we spread the Gospel in a way that’s relevant in a world that’s constantly evolving? What’s your will, Lord? How can we spread your wonderful message of salvation and forgiveness? During the course of a frank discussion with Jan-Willem and Kathy Vink, BEM consultants, we came to realise that the consequences of asking these questions were much greater than we’d imagined. It’s a bit like with an old car. At first, you think you just need a few adjustments, replacing the windscreen wipers, repairing a broken window, or adjusting the headlights. But then you open up the bonnet and see smoke coming out of the engine!
Over the last few decades, Belgium’s been changing at an incredible rate, just like many other Western countries. Our little Catholic country has become a post-Christian society. Our towns and cities now comprise many different cultures and religions. There is a climate of insecurity. Many now live in fear; fear of further terrorist attacks, or the growing number of refugees, the lack of flexibility in the job market, or the growing gulf between rich and poor. Many churches are emptying, with the young in particular staying away. Yet equally, this is a time when there are enormous possibilities for reaching people with the Gospel. Many are yearning for answers, hope, inner peace and a world that is stable.
We waited on God together, asking Him to show us how to reach Belgium with the Gospel today. A strategy committee was formed of people from inside and outside BEM to discuss and reflect in all honesty on the possibilities and opportunities before us. These discussions were an enriching experience for us all. We saw God at work and several of us came to have very similar heart convictions by the end.
In this issue, we want to share what God has shown us, and invite you to pray for the BEM. ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.’ We want to create a network of disciples that will be integrated into society bringing salt and light along with them. In recent years, God has richly blessed several BEM ministries. We praise God for His provision and His faithfulness! However, the spiritual needs in Belgium remain critical: many young people have never even heard the Gospel; many older people have no hope for the future. As long as this remains the case, our mission is not over. That’s why, holding onto God, and incarnated into society around us, we want to shine as lights reflecting God’s love. Please pray with us that His Spirit may work powerfully!