Wednesday, May 30, 2007


It remains absolutely unbelievable how incompetent this administration is.
Is there anything they have gotten right that is of any significance at all?
Check this out for more evidence:

Monday, May 28, 2007


In Holland we don't have very many homeless people.
It strikes me every time I go to the States that there are more and more homeless people on the streets.
What's going on with you guys?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007



Margaret Spellings

Pretty good interview with the Education Secretary.
Too bad she had to mention the President.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Short story

Apparently there is a genre of short stories which I had never heard of.
It is called Very Short Stories.
The stories are no longer than six words.

Ernest Hemingway made one, and according to tradition, called it his best work ever.
Here it is:
For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.
I'm thinking of asking my congregation to respond to the sermon and the service on Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, with six words. We will immediately show them on the beamer.
Try one yourself.
Any topic is fine.
One I got from a friend in Holland: Ax. Tomorrow I might be widowed.
Put it on the weblog as a comment to this post!
Good luck!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The is the last post in a series of posts in which I reflect back on our 30 years of work in missions.
It has taken me a while to be able to write this post, and it hasn’t been easy.
So I’ll just start.

The story goes like this:
Most of you know that I was the team leader and pastor for our church plant in Amsterdam.
It was called “Cornerstone”, and it was actually going quite well.
Between 70 and 80 people attended our services, and there were about 120 people within our “extended family”.
In 1998 my wife and I went for a furlough/sabbatical for a year.
When we came back I realized quite quickly that I was not able to take up my work as I would have liked.
In January of 2000 I started to work less, and my family doctor diagnosed burnout/depression.
In May of 2000 I reported sick and stopped my work in the church.
Later that year I resigned from the mission agency with which we worked.

Cornerstone did not survive these events.
After courageous attempts to continue, the church closed her doors in May of 2003.
One of the members said: “Our church has also suffered a burnout.”

My difficulty with this post is that I still don’t know exactly how to evaluate those events.
I think we did great work, and it was blessed by God.
Anyone who was involved with Cornerstone will tell you “I won’t ever find another church like Cornerstone” (and he or she would mean that positively!).
And that is correct. There will never be another Cornerstone.

But, obviously, a few things went wrong.
What that was I don’t really know.
It hasn’t come clear to me yet.
Maybe never will.
But that doesn’t matter.
I’ve got lots of time (eternity?).

But I do know this:
There are now more than six church p
lanting projects going on in Amsterdam, originating within the Reformed community of Amsterdam.
A relatively large group of people has been touched and forever changed by Cornerstone.
I’ve been blessed in more ways than I can count, together with my wife and children.
That’s true for my whole life.

Thanks for reading this series.

(Note: this is the eighteenth and last in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)


Before we went to Amsterdam we were told that it would be very difficult and that we could expect to be “attacked by the devil”. Spiritual warfare.
I believed that, I guess.
I’m not really one to see the devil behind every problem.
And I’m outta there when people explain away their own stupidity with “what we are doing is zo valuable for the Kingdom that de devil is attacking us – BIG TIME!”

But when I look back on our work in Amsterdam, it seems to me that de devil was pretty vicious in the way he got at us. Or me, I should say.
I was involved in around eight different situations that a) were very complex and difficult pastorally, b) were relational in nature, c) could not be shared with other people because of the nature of the problem, which resulted in d) my having to bear the burden alone.
These situations occurred in nearly every circle in which I was involved: immediate family, extended family, leadership team, congregation, friendships.

When I was going through these situations I wasn’t consciously aware of that.
Only some year later, when I looked back, did I see the pattern.

That devil guy is really a rascal.

(Note: this is the seventeenth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)

Friday, May 11, 2007


George Bush said this this week:

One message I have heard from people from both parties is that the idea of benchmarks makes sense. And I agree. It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward. And so I've empowered Josh Bolten to find common ground on benchmarks, and he will continue to have dialogue with both Republicans and Democrats.

If this isn't a "waffle", I don't know what is.
If I hear anything more from the Right about how the Libs always waffle, I think I will be sick.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


We arrived in Holland on January 4 1990.
That was the climax of a long process of evaluation, testing, research, support raising and arranging.

Most of you probably don’t know this, but before someone is sent to the mission field he or she must undergo a quite thorough process of psychological en personality testing.
They want to know if you are crazy enough to be a church planter in Amsterdam.
Only when they are assured of your complete madness do they send you out.

In order to fully put your madness to the test they make you raise support.
It took us a year to get enough people to be willing to give money to our project.
We had about 20 churches and 40 individuals that supported us.
I contacted the churches by going through the Yellow Pages, writing the churches, calling the Pastor and offering a no-strings-attached visit. Most of the time I got no response. Sometimes I did. I think I wrote 300 churches. That is actually not such a bad sales percentage.

Six weeks before we were to go the support was not in. We were getting ready to postpone our departure when I got a surprise phone call from someone I scarcely knew in Chicago. He was the son of Dutch immigrants who had become rich in the waste business in Chicago.
In a short conversation conducted in a businesslike tone (as only the Dutch can do!) he informed me that he and his wife were going to support us to the tune of $1000 per month.
We could go.

Amsterdam is known as the church planter’s graveyard. Most of the church planters and their projects perish in battle here.
Nigeria was known at the beginning of the 20th century as the white man’s graveyard.

I must really be nuts.

(Note: this is the sixteenth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Looking back

Someone asked me recently what I learned from my experiences in Nigeria.
She wanted to know how I reflect on those years as I look back.
I was able to say a couple of things.

I learned so much. Those were the first years of adulthood, in which we learn so much about who we are, what we can do, and what we can’t do. Because we lived and worked in another culture we were also confronted with the sharp contrasts one finds in the world: rich/poor, black/white, educated/uneducated, etc. We became quickly acquainted with all kinds of areas of life: education, medical care, rural development, transportation, government, church, theology, culture.

I also think that I missed a lot. I wasn’t adult enough to ask the right questions and find the answers (assuming there are some answers somewhere! ;-) I don’t feel guilty about that. Everyone who is young and starting out experiences that. And I had no one around me to help me in that area.

Those ten years shaped and formed the rest of my life and work. When we came to Holland I was very conscious and deliberate about taking what I had learned in Nigeria with me. Those were valuable lessons and I have benefited enormously from them.

With these comments I come to the close of this series of stories about our years in Nigeria.
Because we have spent the largest part of these last 30 years in Holland I will write a few blogs reflecting on our experiences here, to close out this series of stories.
Thank you for reading these stories. I hope you have enjoyed and benefited from them.

(Note: this is the fifteenth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)