Last night my husband R and I met with a woman from the next town over. Somehow she and others from her church got connected with a Nazarene pastor and leader in the Middle East, even though her church is not a Nazarene church.
As it turns out, she works with a foundation whose motto is "Tasty pastries for a good cause." They donate their proceeds to the support of these Arab Christians and their church, and visit them once or twice a year. They send the money directly to the pastor, but because of Dutch tax laws, he must report on exactly what he purchased or how he used the money.
She showed us photos of how the church building used to look and how it looks now, and shared the goals the pastor has for his congregation. He wants people to grow in their faith, but also looks toward filling the (small) sanctuary.
We then discussed possibilities for connecting our local and district churches with this foundation and/or the pastor as well as connecting people that want to go with a team to the Middle East.
There are lots of creative ways to support missions, like this story here of an American woman who sold Tupperware to support missionaries.
Dutch Christians (not just Nazarenes) have easy access to many countries and cultures. As referenced in another blog post, this densely populated country has people coming from many nations. "How is this different than America?" you may ask. America is a multicultural* country, though some areas are still rather ethnically homogenous. Americans also have easy access to countries worldwide, and the benefit of a clearer infrastructure for missions support or sending. From my perspective (volgens mij), most missions endeavors in America focus on Latin America and Africa, especially when it comes to short-term trips.
Europe is a continent filled with people who do not know Jesus, despite the vast number of churches (many have been repurposed into art galleries, bookstores, or other places) and the Christian heritage. I will not make a case here for why Europe is a "Christian continent," because I think that time has passed. There are poor nations like Moldova located within Europe, war-torn areas like the Middle East, and still others include people living their lives without a loving community surrounding them.
Here in the Netherlands, especially with Schiphol Airport, so many countries are within a short plane ride's distance. I, for one, am really looking forward to the chance to go back and visit Kyiv. Europe is not simply a place of famous historical places and glamorous castles and such, but a place with peoples and communities in need. There are countless opportunities to travel short-term and provide volunteer help for churches and communities within a close distance, just as there are opportunities within America itself.
For every person or family, for every church, for every culture, there are creative ways of supporting local churches and leaders, as well as to serve others. We only need to dream with God!
Currently I am completing six months of language school, and I am finally getting settled into the school routine. My classmates come from all over Europe and sometimes other continents as well. In my class alone, the native languages (moedertaal) Spanish, Russian, Turkish, Czech, and Greek are all represented. As I settle in to life here, I also am working on finding and building friendships with people from church as well as from language school. It is my hope that God will use these friendships somehow for His glory, and I am open to how that may happen. I'm looking forward to being a part of what God's doing here, and to enjoy friendships with people from all around the world!
*In another blog post, I will look at what it means to be "multicultural," whether that term suits America and the Netherlands, and what I think means to have a multicultural church.
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