Author Archives: Dennis

Jan 2019 Update

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10 1⁄2 hours in the month of December, and only 19 minutes in the first week of January. That’s how much sun we saw during that period. Spiritually speaking, Belgium is truly a dark country, but these long winters can add an extra layer of darkness that is almost indescribable.

During these dark moments of winter, it’s crucial to keep the community and encouragement flowing. I’ve been trying to organize a “before you go to work” early morning breakfast for the men who attend our bible study. Sounds simple, right? Nope. Hang with me here…

Our city of 150,000 people had over
8.3 million visitors in 2018. That is an increase of over 900,000 from 2017. December 30th was the busiest day of the year with over 60,000 tourists. The reason I mention those figures is because very few eating establishments actually open before 9 a.m. simply because the hotels offer breakfast to the overnight visitors and there really isn’t much motivation to open early for the locals. We see this an invitation to make friendships with the proprietors when we ask them to open early just for us.

We love hosting our meal & bible study every week. not only are we cramped for space, but we have completely worn out all of our chairs. They are very rickety and not really safe to use anymore. What a great problem, right?

DENNIS

What a joy it was to have our son, Drake, home for the Christmas break from Liberty U. It’s hard to believe he’s finishing up his Junior year. Brady turned 20 last week. We are incredibly blessed with how God has gifted both of our boys. Drake has been a huge help with computer repair and video editing. Brady has given us a big push with graphic arts & social media. Both our boys are lending us invaluable assets for the ministry and we’re overjoyed that they are using their talents for the lord. We are still in need of a refrigerator. Sadly, were were not able to buy one during “sale month” as we had hoped, but you never know what kind of door God will open for us. We have organized a Valentine’s dinner and 26 have promised to come. We love building these connection points and we are grateful for your part in helping us introduce people to Jesus.

LAURA


Oct 2018 Update

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Honesty !!

As I was walking to meet someone for coffee the other day, not really wanting to go, I had a few thoughts run through my head.  I was missing my family in America and

I asked myself, “Is it worth it?”  Last month it seemed that we had every extra bill imaginable come in while all our support had not.  Again my thoughts were:

“Is it worth it?”  I just read on Facebook about a friend’s baby shower, wishing I could be there. I asked myself again, “Is it worth it?”  Sometimes as missionaries we have a bad day, bad week, or even a bad month and we ask ourselves, “Is this all really worth it?”  Then God brings to mind the young woman who we have asked you all to pray for for the last two years.  Her name is Natasja, she is 23 years old and she finally accepted Christ as her Savior at camp last month.  And it is then that you get over your self-pity and answer the question with  “Of course it is worth it!”

I can’t describe the joy of being able to lead this young woman to Christ.  And even greater still, was that the SAME DAY that she prayed and accepted God’s gift of salvation, she sat down and talked with 2 younger girls and prayed alongside them. Not only was she saved, she helped lead 2 more to their Savior.  It was pretty amazing !!!   All this to say, never stop praying for your missionaries, you never know what struggles they might be going through, and your prayers really do keep us going. When I am struggling and missing home and family, I remind myself of what I once heard in a sermon and wrote in the flap of my Bible.  The best use of life is to spend it on something that outlasts life.  Thank you for partnering with us to do just that!!

Winter is coming !!

We received a notice from our utility company yesterday.  Belgium has 7 nuclear plants, but only 2 of those 7 are currently working.  Next month they will take one of those offline for renovation.  That leaves only 1 plant to generate what’s needed for the entire country of Belgium during the month of November.  The temperatures are already dropping and the utility company has made it clear that the prices will be significantly higher due to the law of supply and demand.  Pray that our support stays strong.

As our bible study continues to grow, please continue praying with us about finding a larger place.

DENNIS & LAURA


July 2018 Update

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Our Bible Study Continues To Grow !!!

Every Sunday evening we offer a meal and a time around God’s word.  The reason we chose Sunday evening is that our city’s economy is primarily driven by tourism.  This essentially means that people who work on Sunday mornings will never be able attend a Bible study or even a church service.  We are encouraged that we now have 10 people who are coming every week on a regular basis.  Our living room is getting too small.  Our desire is to keep the meal & Bible study format for as long as possible.  From past experience we know that if we transition to a rented facility and morph the Bible study into a more formal service, we will lose about 25% of the people.  There is something to be said about sharing God’s love around the table.  We have already begun praying and searching for a house with a larger living room.  We would truly like to stay in the same part of town as we have built numerous bridges into the community.  We would love it if you prayed with us about this.

The Belgian minister of Economy has presented legislation that will oblige retailers to round off the total amount of any bill paid in cash to five Euro cents.  We spend a minimum of $125 each week to feed those who come to our Bible study, and because of you, we are able to continue connecting people with the gospel.  We look forward to sharing with you the continued impact of your generosity.

DENNIS & LAURA


Stay IN the boat, Dude!

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If you’ve been going to church for any length of time, you will have no doubt heard sermons preached on the great faith that Peter had when he got out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus.

Again, if you’re like me, I grew up listening to that in Sunday School.  And this part of scripture is VERY familiar, almost TOO familiar.  We know the story, we know the details, we know the end.  But by carefully re-reading this event, my thinking has been stretched, and I want to stretch yours as well.  So re-read Matthew 14:22-32 & Mark 6:45-52

2 things had just taken place:

   1) John the Baptist was beheaded

   2) Jesus had finished the miracle of feeding the 5,000 

John 6:15 gives a us little more insight.  After the people saw the miracle, they wanted to make Jesus their king.  He said “No, it’s not time yet” and went onto a mountain to pray by Himself.

As you read this the account, please remember one thing:  The disciples were in this predicament, because Jesus wanted them to be.  Whether you read Matthew’s version or Mark’s version, pay close attention to the wording:

Jesus MADE them get into the ship.  The Greek word here means to force, compel, constrain, urge.  The root word indicates “there is need to do this.”

In essence, it’s a command.  What’s the command? 

Get in the boat, go to the other side (Bethsaida specfically), and wait for Jesus there.

I submit to you that Peter getting out of the ship shows his inability to follow directions & do what the Lord had said.  It doesn’t reveal his faith, but rather his lack of faith.

The command was simple, get in the ship, sail to other side, wait for Me, I’ll meet you there, I will stay behind and disperse the crowd.

The fact that he got out of the boat shows his lack of faith by not trusting the Lord to protect himself and the disciples in a frustrating situation.

Please notice that it was because of Peter’s lack of faith that this whole walking on water thing took place.  Jesus’ words: “Be of good cheer, it’s me” — weren’t good enough for Peter.

In less than 2 chapters Jesus is going to ask Peter a question: Who do men say I am? – some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, some say Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.  Then Jesus forces his hand:  Who DO YOU say that I am?  His reponse: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

So when Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, it’s me Christ, the Son of God” – at that moment in time, that was insufficient for Him.  If he truly believed that, he wouldn’t have said, “Lord, if it’s REALLY you, then command me to come to you on the water.”

When God gives us a direct command, faith should take control.  We should be confident that God knows what He’s doing and that He is more than capable to make it happen, but a lack of faith will make us doubt, like Peter.

Jesus knew what was going to take place, and He wanted them to be IN the boat for a specific purpose.  He needed to them to learn that they could trust Him completely, regardless of the dilemma at hand.  Fast forward to the end of the story.  Mark makes it clear that they were amazed beyond measure.  Why?  Even with the miracle of feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish wasn’t enough for them to fully trust Him…not yet anyway.

So as the wind begins to pick up speed, the seasoned fishermen begin to panic.  It’s now the darkest hour of the night, and Jesus is simply making his way across the sea of Galilee to meet them as He had promised.  He really had no plans to stop and say hello to the disciples along the way.  He had already given them the plan, and that wasn’t part of it.

But they see Jesus walking on the water and their first thought was:  “It’s a ghost.”  They panicked even more.  But Jesus immediately tries to calm their hearts by saying:  “Hey, it’s me, you don’t have to worry.  Everything’s alright.”

But it’s when we don’t allow our hearts to be comforted by His presence that our faith takes a crash-landing.

Fear prompts us to start asking stupid questions:

Is God who He says He is?

Does God love me as much as He says he loves me?

Does God really see my needs?

Does He really care about what I want?  

At the root of every single trial and fear we experience in life is this question:  Can God be trusted?  

Look at the absurdity of Peter’s response to Jesus’ attempt to calm his heart:  “Lord, if it’s really you…”  What?  How many people had they met who could actually walk on water?

A lack of faith is nothing more than looking at our circumstances instead of God’s promises.

I believe that when God gives a command, we are to respond in a way where we are confident that He will provide the means and the protection along the way to carry out that command.

That command for the disciples was simply to get in the boat and STAY in the boat until they reached the shore on the other side.  Peter’s panic-attack prompted him to want confirmation that God had not abandoned him.

Even in our disobedience Christ lovingly reminds us he’s still there. Jesus reminds him He’s in control and says: “Ok, come here.”

When my children are disobedient, is that the time I should stop teaching them?  Absolutely not, I should seize the opportunity and use it to show them what they’ve done wrong.  So here’s the teachable moment for Peter:  “Come, Peter.” 

Now, if Jesus says “come”, that is certainly another promise for safety, BUT… there was ALREADY a promise for his safety when He told Peter and the disciples to get in the ship and go to the other side.  As Peter steps out and starts walking, his faith is shattered for the second time because of his circumstances.

The same fear that crippled his faith to not stay in the boat, has now crippled him again.  Peter’s focus shifted to what the wind was doing TO him instead of remembering what Jesus wanted FOR him — to simply trust Him in all circumstances.

When Jesus returned Peter to the original place He had intended him to be, the wind ceased.  They walked hand in hand together back to the ship.  He took him by the hand, just as you would a child when he is either disobedient or ignorant of the danger.

And when we are disobedient or ignorant, God, as our loving Father, has to take us by the hand like immature babies, and He puts us back in the place we should have stayed in the beginning...because it’s all a matter of trust…isn’t it? 

Jesus asked the tough question that we all must answer:

“Why did you doubt?”


May 2018 Update

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We have a car !!!

We have been incredibly blessed with a demo vehicle with only 3,000 miles on it.  It’s the European equivalent to the Nissan Rogue.  A few months ago, Belgium decided to change it laws regarding emissions control and this essentially forced us to buy something newer than we were expecting to be in accordance with this new law.  We will be able to drive the car until 2027 before we have to deal with the emissions law again.  Because of your prayers, the exchange rate turned in our favor and we do not have a monthly payment.  The car is paid for !!!

 

We have reached our goal !!!

In our last letter we told you about our desire to buy more Dutch Bibles.

That need has been met.  We are so grateful to the Lord that we have absolutely the best support team in the world.

 

The first 2 quilts are almost done !!!

God has brought 2 ladies across our path who will be receiving them. 

Please keep them in your prayers, they are both going through battles with cancer and we hope that these prayer quilts will be an encouragement to them as well as an open door to witness.

 

It’s dry !!!

We asked for your prayers about a problem we were having with ground water seeping up into our basement.  It disappeared.  Don’t know how it happened, or where it went, or if it will come back, but at the moment we are giving thanks that our basement is dry.

DENNIS & LAURA


March 2018 Update

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Thank you for praying for us during these last few months during my dad’s healing and his future health needs. His house has been sold and he is currently residing with my sister and her husband in Richmond, British Columbia. There are still some very tough choices ahead.

Our 2nd church plant, which is in it’s infancy, is comprised of mainly businessmen & businesswomen (and our city’s main source of income is tourism). In May, I hope to begin meeting monthly with a handful of men for breakfast before they go to work. While this is not a new concept in the U.S., the hard part about doing it here is that there aren’t many places that are actually OPEN for breakfast. I believe this will be a great opportunity to encourage & disciple.

Last year Brady & I began an Instagram account: @PentaxDudes. Every couple of weeks we’ll take a few hours and walk through our very picturesque town and take photographs of all sorts of things. In just a year’s time, over 1700 people have decided to follow us.

When the weather begins to warm up, we are going to plan an “InstaMeet” to make contact with all the local photographers. We’ve been planning this for awhile. Would you pray with us that this would become an effective tool to build bridges into people’s lives and our community?

One more prayer request: We have ground water that is coming up through the storage cellar floor in our home. We need to contact the landlords and we need them to respond positively and quickly. Mold grows incredibly fast in our extremely damp climate. This will be an expensive repair, and if they choose not to fix it, it would more than likely force us to move.

DENNIS

It is hard to believe that we are quickly approaching the fourth month of the new year. There are several outreaches which we were hoping to launch earlier in the year, but they’ve been delayed dealing with the health issues of Dennis’ father. So in April, our quilting ministry will begin. I can’t wait to get started. Taco Tuesday will also be launched within the next 4 weeks. Please pray that we will be able to make some good contacts through this outreach.

We are so excited that we have been able to raise almost enough money to purchase a car. At the current exchange rate, we will lose 25%, which would mean that we would have a small monthly payment to make up for what we lost in the exchange rate. Please pray that the U.S. Dollar will surge against the Euro and we will be able to buy it without incurring a monthly payment.

I will also be starting a once a month ladies Bible study on Friday afternoons. We will begin by studying the names of God. We will come together, study God’s word and then go to lunch to enjoy a time of fellowship.

We are also in need of some new Bibles for those who are coming to our Sunday evening Bible study. Bibles are not cheap in Belgium because they do not print very many copies at a time, simply because there aren’t enough people who want want one. They cost $70 each. Our goal is to get 20 Bibles. Would you be willing to buy a Bible for a Belgian?

LAURA


January 2018 Update

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The Brussels Times newspaper reported that “December was the darkest month since 1934.” The sun only shone for 10 hours and 31 minutes during the entire month. This is one of the reasons we felt God was prompting us to do a community Christmas outreach. We prayed, planned, and prepared the best we knew how. We advertised on social media, we personally gave out over 4,100 invitations, and we hung up huge city-wide posters (and within 4 days someone has pasted their posters over ours, which is against the law because you cannot paste new posters until the event has passed, but if we had put up more posters over theirs, that would have been illegal too). But 85 people heard the gospel. To us, that is a HUGE success. To our knowledge, no one made a life-changing decision, but God was at work and we built some great bridges into the community. Thanks so much for being such a big part of this.

DENNIS

It is hard to believe that we have now been back in Belgium for 16 months. We have been so blessed by many of you that have prayed, given and encouraged. We could not do this without such a great support team.

We are now busy planning and getting some unique outreaches up and running. We will be starting a “Taco Tuesday” where we invite the neighbors and locals to come and enjoy a meal with us as we get to know them better. I am also wanting to start a ladies night once a month where we get together for a dessert and game time. But, the outreach I am most excited about is a prayer quilt ministry. Myself and some other women would make small lap quilts for those who are in the hospital or who are struggling with an illness. These would be given out in the name of our new church. They are made with a tag on the back with an explanation that it was made with love and prayers by the ladies of Familiekerk Brugge.

I was reminded recently by a friend that we “have not because we ask not.” So, I thought that I would again share our need for a car. We have been able to raise about half of what is needed, but are in need of the remainder. We know that God will provide in the right time, but I will be honest, I am hoping for sooner than later. Somehow bringing home groceries on the bike or by foot is just not as easy as it was 10 years ago. Again, thank you for your love, prayers and support.

LAURA


The Voice Behind You

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We sometimes joke about “selective hearing.” The voice of your spouse is so distinctive that it is easier to hear and ignore, according to new research. It also found that people (particularly those who are middle-aged) are able to separate and ignore a familiar voice to hear an unfamiliar voice better. This was the problem in Isaiah’s day, they were listening to a voice other than God’s.

As I was reading yesterday, I came across something gripping in Isaiah 30 (vs 21): And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

My attention was captivated by the words “behind you”.  Somehow we have it firmly rooted in our minds that God is always out in front “leading us”. But have you ever paused to consider the thought that sometimes God is “pushing us”?

Remember when the Israelites were wandering around in the desert? God was gracious and He sent a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to “lead them”. The instructions really weren’t that hard: When the cloud turned right, they turned right. If the cloud went forward, they went forward. When the cloud stopped, they pitched their tents and camped out. But you’ll remember that the cloud purposefully led them to a dead end, the Red Sea. Pharaoh and his army were closing in fast. Then something happened that only God could do. The pillar that had been leading them made a big U-turn and went behind them and created an impenetrable barrier. Matter of fact, God created daytime for the Israelites on one side of the cloud, and night-time for the Egyptians on the other side. It was for their protection and to show them that faith was going to play a big factor in the next step, walking across the Red Sea…on dry land.

When God speaks from “behind” you, He’s urging you to take a step of faith, because He knows where you’re going even if you don’t. After all, if you have all the information ahead of time, it’s really not faith, is it?

The pushback to stepping out in faith is to use Gideon’s example of putting out a fleece to determine God’s will. I would encourage you to re-read that entire scenario (Judges 6). Gideon wasn’t trying to determine God’s will. God had actually already told Gideon what to do. Gideon just couldn’t believe that God had called him to do the job, he was simply confirming the task that God had called him to do. Remember, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us to confirm God’s voice, Gideon did not.

You may be stepping out into the unknown, or you may need to accept the fact that God is “pushing you” to start, but as you go, you need to listen carefully to that voice behind you whispering in your ear saying, ‘keep going – THIS is the way’. Be cautious of “selective hearing”. Don’t ignore that familiar voice.