Posted by: Jack | April 15, 2017

Looking for Resurrection Power

Why are we continually tired? Is it age? Stress and lack of sleep? Or lack of Dutch sunshine?

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Pat’s Good Friday composition, with an aquarel from one of our young people.

Then we began adding it all up. Ministry at the ETF has become more intense because of the need for Jack to design research projects that could attract external funding and staff – and his responsibilities as chairperson of the department of Practical Theology keep him busy with coordination, mentoring, internships and committee meetings.

Ministry at the church has become busier this year: more frequent board meetings, continual new developments with the church building we rent for our meetings, a greater need for Pat’s musical and creative gifts, challenges with our local contacts and hospitality ministry, and consistently working on the teaching and preaching ministry for the church.

On the private side, things have been really intense: last year, we lost Jack’s mom (March 2016), and last month we moved Jack’s dad to a care facility. It’s also exciting, because we became grandparents of Manuel, whom we love to visit regularly. They call us the sandwich generation, sandwiched between the generations we care for!

Ah, so now we understand.

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Jack’s Dad on his 91st Birthday

We are so grateful for strength and good health (besides some back troubles for both of us), for God sustaining us, and giving spiritual discernment at just the right times, and for the resources to travel and minister in these many ways. When we are weary, God gives strength!

Here’s for some reprieve: We spend Easter weekend with our kids and grandson. Next weekend, we visit the Keukenhof with good friends from Pleasant View Bible Church. Then on May 12, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a special family trip to the US. Upon our return, a seminary friend and pastor from Merriam Christian Chapel will visit us with his wife. We look forward to these visits and the refreshment of good Christian fellowship.


Jack leading a seminar on Leadership and Hope at an ETF conference

In the meantime, Jack finishes his teaching for this academic year, found a new seminary teacher to take a new course in his department, reviews incoming internship reports, and writes two chapters on pastoral leadership (“Leadership and Hope,” and “Leadership, Spirituality and Discernment”). He is also involved in three doctoral promotions that deal with the Pastoral Epistles, with Church Renewal and with a Baptist Theology of Ministry. A little further off is our church’s summer outreach with Athletes in Action in mid-July, for which we expect to host a number of young people from Stone Hill Church. We’ve never had so many visits from supporting churches in such a short time; we’re delighted!

So, we continue to grow in discernment to juggle commitment and priorities in ministry, and … yes … it takes some perseverance. But thanks be to God who empowers us with the same power with which he raised Jesus Christ from the dead! And thanks to you for your prayers and support in partnering with us!


Posted by: Jack | July 27, 2017

Sports outreach

We felt a little awkward as we got on our bicycles to go to a deserted patch of grass in the church’s neighborhood. What would we find? We were to serve coffee/tea and talk with parents of the participating kids – would any show up? Without access to our own meeting facilities (only on Sundays we worship there), how would we even make coffee? Where could the kids go to the bathroom? And would the weather hold up, after raining all morning?

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Where is that marshmallow? One of our favorite games

Those few days went very well, in spite of all our questions and doubts. About two dozen kids attended, the afternoon for grade schoolers, the evening for high schoolers. Wednesday, we closed the activities with a barbecue where only a few kids and their parents attended. Yet, with all our volunteers from several churches as well as a student Christian group, we were able to share a bit of God’s love with these kids and their families.

Many people in our city assume that, when someone is very friendly or they do something good for others, there’s an ulterior motive. Several conversations focused on explaining that we simply cared for the neighborhood and that we wanted to show a bit of God’s love to them – even if they would never come to our church. So we pray for God to water the seed that was planted through the continuing work of His Spirit.

Today, we leave for the Black Forest, where our annual BMW field conference is being held. Please pray for safe travels for all involved, and for spiritual refreshment in our fellowship.


Field conference of 2016 – an exceptionally large group with all BMW board members present.

Thanks for standing with us. Our prayer page has more prayer requests.

Posted by: Jack | July 15, 2017

Spring/Summer Visits

Life is held together by relationships of love. Often we share about all we do, but here’s about the ‘better side of life’, a string of visits that shapes our summer.

2017-04-025We were delighted to meet up with Bob & Marcia from Indiana. We had often been in their home. We watched an amazing flower parade, visited the world’s largest flower auction in Aalsmeer and admired beautiful tulips in Holland’s Keukenhof. We joined Laura & Adriaan, and Rebecca for their church service in Utrecht. A very colorful visit indeed!

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The futuristic doorway of a cathedral turned into a hotel

Next, we hosted John & Christine in our own home. Jack and John traded stories about Grace Seminary where we studied together. We visited our city of Maastricht, and were awed by its 2000-year history and beautiful architecture. We visited one of the famous churches that is now a hotel. We also attended our own church service, which is probably the first time they worshiped with a Baptist congregation in a Roman Catholic church building! We were very encouraged with their visit and the good fellowship.

In between we did some visiting ourselves. We traveled with our whole family to the Western US, visiting the big parks. We hiked in snow and sunshine, and felt overwhelmed by the spectacular scenery. Every park was so unique, a testimony to God’s creative powers. Pat’s brother Bob joined us for this trip.


The whole gang. Guess where?

In early August, we’ll visit with fellow missionaries at our Annual Field Conference in Southern Germany. During these summer days, we also have several church folks over for dinner, to build and renew relationships, for they hold together the web of our lives.

In a little over one month, we’ll pick up Tom & Dawn. In 1993, we were the first missionaries they ever hosted in their own Michigan home, and now we can return the favor.

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Manuel preparing his first big trip!

Please join us in praying for our Athletes in Action outreach event NEXT WEEK! And also for progress with renovation plans and permits of the church building. Our prayer page has more info. We are grateful for your prayer and support. Without you, we couldn’t be here.

In Christ, Jack and Pat Barentsen

Posted by: Jack | March 20, 2017

Elections, Leadership and Hope

The Dutch just had their elections. This time they made international news. Many feared that one or more political parties that would break up the European Union would be put in political power. Fortunately (we think), this did not happen. It is all about hope. What will the future hold, and what will be our hope? As with the US elections and with the Brexit vote last year, people are attracted to vote for this or that party based on their vision of hope.

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Jack with a professor and potential student from Romania at the ‘Hope’ conference

At the ETF, we had a major international conference on “Driven by Hope,” on hope, economy and leadership in late February. With close to 20 presentations and 60 attending from various continents, we considered this conference very successfull. Jack spoke on (secular) leaders as prophets of hope and received interesting feedback.

The leadership breakfast with Jack as speaker provided opportunity for people to think about new, hopeful perspectives for evangelical 2017-02-04 Bethesda L Ontbijt (2)churches in the 21st century. Tomorrow, Jack has a follow-up conversation with a young church leader about changes in their church.

Hope also drives us in our church breakfast. Our monthly breakfast attracts neighborhood people and it also furthers the fellowship among our church people. The third breakfast is coming up this Sunday, March 26. Please pray for continued interest and relationships building. Pray also for discernment whether to continue with this outreach.

Spring also brings hope. Spring flowers are appearing

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The proposed Easter wreath Pat will do in her workshops

and so are opportunities for flower workshops. Thursday, March 23, Pat has a flower workshop with the ladies from the church neighborhood. She expectes to hear often, “what did she say?” These ladies speak dialect and must listen closely as Pat speaks Dutch. And of course there are lots of crazy misunderstandings!  But that helps the flowers as well as the ladies grow and laugh! An Easter flower workshop will be held on Tuesday, April 11, for church ladies and their friends. Pray for seeds of Christ’s love to be sown.

Thank you for upholding us in prayer, so we can be messengers op Easter Hope in a country that has lost its Christian vision.

For more prayer requests, please check out our prayer page.

Posted by: Jack | February 3, 2017

Breakfast Stories

Whoever heard of having breakfast in church? What a silly idea! But to our surprise, at least 10 neighborhood people came to our first church breakfast service last Sunday! We enjoyed delicious rolls, brown bread, cheese and fruit while chatting with our neighbors. Even though we were in ‘their’ church where they had attended for decades (the Catholic church building where we meet), they had never done anything like this. A short devotional on the importance of food in the Bible was given. We mingled some more. And now everyong is looking forward to Feb 26 when we again have a breakfast service! Pray for this next breakfast! This will be the second of a trial of 3 breakfasts. will also be important on Saturday, Feb 4. Jack will be speaking at the annual leaders’ breakfast of a counseling organization called Bethesda in Belgium. The topic is “A Hopefull Look at Tomorrow’s Church.” So far 65 have signed up! For our area, these are BIG numbers!

Hopefully people will have eaten breakfast before coming to the ILSE Conference Feb 24-25! This conference brings together theologians and economists to talk about Driven by Hope. Hope and happiness studies are big in economics today. And as theologians, we have a lot to contribute about ‘Hope’. Jack will speak on “Religious Leaders as Harbingers of Hope.”


Rebecca with Manuel, just before leaving for Thailand

On Feb. 7 we will have breakfast with our grandson, Manuel! This will be our firsgrandparent baby-sitting day together! The biggest challenge will be getting the stroller down the steps and into the elevator!! They live on the 10th floor, but the elevator doesn’t go all the way.


Our youngest daughter, Rebecca, is traveling in Thailand this month. We just received pictures of her petting elephants! Maybe a new pet idea?!!!

We value and covet your prayers for us. “Without me you can do nothing,” said the Lord, and we long to see Him at work in and through us.

Coffee Helping MissionsA unique support idea: Why not try some special coffee and help support our ministry with the profits!


Posted by: Jack | January 1, 2017

Our church homeless again?

“Gezegend Nieuw Jaar!” We wish you a blessed New Year, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We must be having fun because time is flying by! During our US trip in October we visited 5 of our supporting churches and many friends. Pat enjoyed time with her brothers. Jack’s presentation at the Atlanta leadership conference went well and he continues with some excellent contacts and networking. This will help him prepare for the next conference in Brussels in Oct 2017.

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The semester is winding down and classes are over. Jack’s students have studied discipleship, and made presentations on Bible study materials. Over the next month, they will write a major paper in the area of church and faith education, and prepare for the oral exam. Jack also supported students who organized a special training day on pastoral care and trauma.

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Our church in a circle at the end of our monthly Communion service.

The Catholic parish in whose building we meet will be discontinued at the end of this month. The church building, which seats over 400 with few other rooms, is too expensive to run so we couldn’t possibly buy it. It might be torn down (which leaves our church ‘homeless’ once again), but maybe it can be renovated into a multipurpose building. We’d love to continue to worship there (as tenants), so pray God to lead Catholic church and city officials in their decisions about the church building’s future.

Manuel 1611.jpgOur grandson Manuel is already 4½ months old. He is just adorable! Unfortunately, he still cries lots and is a fussy drinker – very trying for Laura and Adriaan. They have looked at possible allergies and various other causes. We’re amazed at the level of professional and medical care they receive. Still, Manuel grows quite normally and is already able to turn over both ways. We’re looking forward to our grandma/pa care days with him.

See also The Barentsen prayer page.



Posted by: Jack | October 18, 2016

NJ>PA>MI>IN>GA – catch us if you can!

Becoming grandparents on August 14 … four conference weeks for Jack in August and early September … start of the new semester in the last week of September … packing to get ready for our US trip …

2016-10-18 10.33.40.jpgIt’s been a whirlwind. Right now we are parked in Easton, PA for a few days. We’re enjoying the sunflowers in the yard of Pat’s brother’s home, a big coffee from D…D…, and an amazing 82oF sunny day. Plus catching up on jetlag, emails and reading. Soon we’ll visit Pat’s home church. Like I said: a whirlwind.

We’re visiting the US for almost 4 weeks. The immediate occasion is the opportunity Jack has to present some of his research on religious leadership in one of the many workshops at the annual conference of the International Leadership Association in Atlanta in early November. We received a special gift from one of our supporting churches as well as support through ETF to make this trip possible. We’re combining this with a visit some of our churches. Here’s the schedule:

  • Oct 15-16, Stone Hill Church of Princeton, NJ (sorry we didn’t get our blog out before this weekend)
  • Oct 19, First Baptist Church in Allentown, PA
  • Oct 23-24, Skiff Lake Bible Church, Jackson, MI
  • Oct 26, Pleasant View Bible Church, Warsaw, IN (personal visits and a small group)
  • Oct 29-30, Waterford Community Church, Waterford, MI
  • Nov 2-5, Pat back in Easton, Jack at the International Leadership Association conference in Atlanta

We hope to visit many friends. Don’t hesitate to mail us if we’re close by you to see if we can get together.

It seems that everywhere we go, leadership is a big need. In Europe, that’s because of the immigration and financial crisis, in the USA the immediate concern is the election. We felt very much spoken to when in our first church visit, the leadership set our sights upon a higher Kingdom that is surely taking root and sprouting new leaves, in spite of all appearances to the contrary. We serve our King and Savior Jesus Christ, no matter what happens in the early kingdoms we inhabit. May we all find courage to speak out for this kingdom everywhere we go.2016-10-09 16.50.10.jpg

PS: our grandson Manuel is doing well … but also a bit colicky. It so much reminds us of our first months with Laura. But his first smiles are priceless!

See also The Barentsen prayer page.




Posted by: Jack | August 20, 2016

A healthy baby boy!

Perhaps you saw it on facebook …

2016-08-14 21.00.00Sunday morning, August 14, our oldest daughter Laura gave birth to a healthy baby boy, our first grandson. His name is Manuel Steffen Hendrik, last name: Verkerk.

For weeks, we jumped every time our cell phone went off, always ready to dash out at a moment’s notice. Finally, Adriaan (Laura’s husband) called us at 4:45AM last Sunday morning. We quickly left to see them, and arrived 7:45AM at their apartment in Utrecht. It turned out that the hospital where they had planned to go had no staff available that morning. Rather than going to another hospital, it was decided that Laura would give birth at home, assisted by the midwife and her student-assistant … and of course, by Rebecca, also a nurse!2016-08-18 (1)

At 11:06, Manuel made his appearance. Mother and baby have done very well the first week. If you wish to contact them directly, you can reach Laura at

Thanks for praying with us. Read more on our prayer page.

Coffee Helping MissionsHave you already tried the coffee from this special website? The proceeds help support our ministry. So drink delicious coffee and help support missions at the same time!


Posted by: Jack | August 1, 2016

Our Big Dilemma …

To go or not to go?

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It is time for our annual field conference with BMW (Aug 2-7). It will be a big group. We have more national leaders from some of BMW’s mission churches in Europe. And most BMW board members will attend. It’ll be crowded, but we look forward to good times of fellowship and refreshment with many of our colleagues and friends.

But …

13754634_10153827156107993_318533542877102774_nOur first grandchild is due on August 10. It could come any time now. And we don’t want to miss it. But the conference location (Bad Zavelstein) is a 7 hour drive from Laura’s home.

So …

We’ve decided to go to the conference, to travel light, and to carry our mobile phones at all times. Ready to pack up and leave at a moment’s notice.

For the rest, the coming month is conference time, especially for Jack. Read more about it on our prayer page.

Coffee Helping MissionsThanks for those of you who ordered coffee through the special website. Some of the proceeds help support our ministry. Haven’t tried yet? Click on the Coffee-Helping-Missions picture.


Posted by: Jack | May 31, 2016

Teaching English and teaching leadership

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Pat preparing her English lesson

Once a month, Pat goes to a nearby city to teach English to a group of 10-14 seniors. Most of these have grandchildren living abroad in an English speaking country, so they are eager to improve their English. Although Pat often feels stressed to prepare, this group is a lot of fun. Last time, they were stumped for the English word for ‘vertebrae’. Suddenly someone piped up, “Oh, I know what it is: spare ribs”.

Pat was asked as ‘native speaker’ to volunteer to help this group. There are a few spiritual conversations. Pray for wisdom to continue and to prepare hearts for the gospel.

Meanwhile, Jack teaches leadership. At the end of April, he helped organize ETF’s annual leadership conference. The focus this year was on how our society and our churches become increasingly diverse, with people from all kinds of countries, cultures and religious backgrounds. How do you lead in such a society or church with a healthy sense of identity, instead of losing control?

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Book presentation from previous conference, entitle “Challenges of Moral Leadership”

The conference had a number of speakers from South Africa. Their personal experiences with ethnic and religious violence impressed upon us how deeply these issues affect our societies. We are eager to publish these contributions next year, so that others can benefit as well.

In November, Jack has an opportunity to present some of his work on pastoral leadership at the annual conference of the International Leadership Association in Atlanta. Over 2500 leaders (practitioners, teachers and scholars) are member of this association and about 1500 people attend this event. Yet, religious leadership is discussed by only a few, so this is a great opportunity to contribute to that discussion as a Christian. Jack has found three other Christian colleagues who are willing to present on this topic together.


There’s just one hitch: the cost. Flight, conference fee and hotel already total about $1700 (going Dutch – as cheap as possible). We plan to combine this with some visits to our supporting churches to make good use of this visit to the US. Can youCoffee Helping Missions help us with this ministry? Any gift to our education fund would be greatly appreciated.

There is one other very practical way to help us: order coffee from Coffee Helping Missions and have the proceeds go to support missionaries generally and (if you so indicate) us specifically.


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