Posted by: Jack | January 22, 2019

30, 60 and … home!

The last months of 2018 were quite an adventure. A miracle, actually!

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Our first family Christmas picture

October marked a milestone: thirty years ago we moved to the Netherlands. We still remember arriving with a 4-month old baby on our arms. Our co-workers received us warmly, and we lived with them for two months. We found a rental home, bought a car, got settled in, and began to discover God’s call and direction in this new location. We served in two church planting adventures. Then Jack moved towards seminary teaching while Pat made a job out of her flower hobby and made many local contacts.


2018-12-01 13.49.34Now, 30 years later, I (Jack) just turned 60 – we still can’t believe it. And history seems to be repeating itself for we are moving again. During the last year, we sought the Lord’s direction and input from mission leaders and friends. Then, for ministry, family and financial reasons, we took the plunge and made an offer on a house in Houten, where Laura and Adriaan live (with Manuel). Two intense months followed as we worked to get the financing. With a very limited mortgage and generous gifts from our supporters, we were able to buy the house and renovate the kitchen and bathroom. We were overwhelmed and amazed at God’s goodness. Truly, this house is a gift from God! As one of Jack’s co-workers said”It’s a miracle!”

buurtcentrum nazarethDuring this time, the Maastricht church also found a new home. Last September, it became clear we had to vacate by the end of November. During that time, we worked together with another small church plant and were able to take over their meeting location, a neighborhood center. Some of these folks joined our church. So now we have a new meeting location for our services.

Our blog has been pretty quiet since last October, as our adventures left us little room for updates and news. Thanks for praying as always, even without much news from us. Jack will continue to work at the ETF as usual, although the commute will be longer. Together, we will explore new opportunities for ministry in and around Houten. The next few months will be very busy with renovating, working with contractors and then moving. Please keep praying with us and check our prayer page for updates.

Our new address will be: Reigerweide 1, 3993 CJ Houten, The Netherlands



Posted by: Jack | October 15, 2018

Refreshment, Beginnings and Innovation

After an intense year of teaching, church ministry and family care, we thoroughly enjoyed our BMW Annual conference. This year, Pat & I were responsible as hosts and Pat helped to coordinate a special ladies’ ministry. One of BMW’s board members, a pastor from the Chicago area, spoke on forgiveness. We were encouraged to hear from many missionary colleagues and their efforts in church planting, even as we shared our struggles. The weeks afterward, we hiked in the Austrian Alps. Its hard work hiking up, but the sights are breathtaking. What a wonderful reminder of God’s majesty and power in creation!

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Pat descending the mountain

Upon returning home, Jack arrived in the middle of re-exams, with a week of doctoral studies at the ETF in early September. Some 40 PhD students from all over the globe gather together with more than 30 professors. Every day starts with a chapel meditation, following by student presentations, and faculty lectures. We had two PhD promotions this year, as well as a special evening to thank our school president who stepped down after 12 years of serving in this capacity. During the week, Jack had very stimulating meetings with profs and students in practical theology. It is a real privilege to be part of this very international group of Christian leaders, so serve the people of Belgium and the Netherlands, Europe and beyond.


Jack during his inaugural address

These were also very emotional weeks. Our school president lost his 25-year-old son through a car accident, and one of our library volunteers passed away unexpectedly due to heart failure after years of serious health troubles. Moreover, Jack and an ETF colleague were involved in a major car accident; all involved walked away without a scratch, but both cars were totaled. It brings us face to face with the vulnerability of life, even though we often live it as if there is no end in sight.

It was a special highlight for Jack to hold his inaugural lecture on the occasion of being appointed as full professor of practical theology. He spoke on “The Pastor as Innovator? Religious Leadership in a Post-Truth World.” The speech drew on his years of research into pastoral leadership. Many in the audience later expressed how much they recognized from their own ministries. This lecture was held at the ceremony for opening our new academic year on September 24.


Our family, including Jack’s brother and sister at the reception after the inaugural address

Thank you for praying for our church meeting location. In a flurry of meetings and emails, it is now clear that we have to leave our current building by the end of this month. But … the Lord provided a new meeting place nearby. It is a local activity center in a neighborhood called “Nazareth.” Keep praying for the move and all involved, please. More details in our next blog.

Thanks for serving with us through your prayers and support,

Jack and Pat


Posted by: Jack | July 18, 2018

Food parcels, parenting and anger



The inside of the church, set-up for the monthly coffee service

This summer, the most exciting news from the Maastricht Church is that we may be about to get kicked out of the building where we have held our services since 2014. Negotations with the Maastricht City Council (for all the permits) and the Roman Catholic Diocese (formal owner of the building) are intense and political. Keep praying that the Lord’s will be done – which we hope will be that the building can be renovated, to include facilities where we can hold services for the long term – so that our church can continue to be involved in the neighborhood. But perhaps the Lord has other things in mind, so we must remain humble and prayerful as we continue in this challenge.

But you might ask, “How has the church served the neighborhood?” So glad you asked!

  • Help organize and of late simply attending monthly coffee afternoons for social interaction and building relationships.
  • Host two courses on managing anger constructively, taught by Christians from the Dutch organization Agape.
  • Host two courses on parenting teenagers, taught by different believers in our area.

Areal view of the neighborhood of our church. Do you see the cross-shaped building in the middle?

  • Two small campaigns to put together food parcels for needy families in the neighborhood.
  • Participate in several events organized by “Serve the City Maastricht” where volunteers helped to do various jobs for folks in our neighborhood (such as major house cleaning, painting, recovering a yard from being dramatically overgrown, and much more).
  • Reformat the last worship service of the month as a coffee service, inviting neighborhood folks to participate.

In recognition of the social value of these activities, the City of Maastricht gave a generous subsidy from which we could fund a number of these activities. We were  surprised but grateful!

These are not huge events, with just a few people from our church participating to a handful of neighborhood folks.  But we are and have connected with several people in the neighborhood, sometimes at a point of great need. Pray for the Lord’s fruit from these efforts and (renewed?) spiritual interest.

Did you see our little video about the building? Click here if you’d like to see it.

Thank you for standing by us in prayer and support. These summer months are often low on support, so we are very grateful if you would remember our Coffee Helping Missionsneeds in your giving. Click here for access to our mission’s website for donations.

You can also support us by ordering delicious specialty coffees from a Christian business that helps support our ministry!

Posted by: Jack | June 9, 2018

Internships Finished. Exams ahead!

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Internships are finished 🙂 . The students and I reflected on how their practical experience connects with their academic studies. It was exciting and fascinating to hear! Their exegesis courses helped them in preparing Bible studies. Systematic theology courses helped to teach more clearly what they believed. Courses in pastoral care and preaching enabled them to minister to people’s needs. Most importantly, many discovered for the first time how the Lord used their education to make them a blessing to others. They have returned to finish their Bachelor degree with new enthusiasm and new questions. Several will go on for a Master’s degree. June 12-13 will be the final evaluations with each intern. They all submitted 50+ page reports!

Until the end of June is exam period, a busy and stressful time for the students. Professors are busy with papers and thesis. Pray for wisdom and keeping focus on Christ amidst these busy days.

Other joyful news:

  • One of our young people in the Maastricht church was baptized. Her testimony inspired everyone.
  • Enrollment of new students at the ETF is slightly up from last year – but we have a ways to go yet. Pray for many more applications.
  • The ETF has admitted a number of qualified students from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. At least 5 still need scholarships before they can come. If you wish to help, scholarship donations can be made through our mission BMW. Please add a note designating this gift towards the Barentsen’s “National Worker” account (or send us an email about it).



Did you update your profile?

Thank you for standing with us in prayer and support. And thanks for drinking coffee from which the proceeds help support us.

Thank you for updating your profile so we can be compliant with new European privacy regulation. If you haven’t done so yet, would you please do so with the link at the bottom of this update?


Posted by: Jack | April 19, 2018

Spring Challenges

P_20180418_195333.jpgSpring has finally arrived. Our front yard briefly changes into our own miniature version of the famous “Keukenhof” with its 4,5 million tulips and 2,5 million other bulb flowers. As the sun came out here, we heard that many of our friends in the Midwest were covered with a very late blizzard!

Eleven senior students have just finished their internships. First reports are encouraging. One of our students had quite a dramatic internship in a prison ministry, as he was confronted with the brokenness and evil in our lives. Another student worked at a Christian hospitality center in Amsterdam, which hosts young people from every part of the world. His work involved sharing the gospel, leading small group Bible studies, and organizing special events. Another student, just recovering from a burnout, is doing a delayed internship in a church, focusing mainly on pastoral visits and counseling. The most popular internship is in a church, being exposed to all its various ministries. Some have travelled to churches in England, South Africa, or even Australia! Many will have experienced Christ’s presence like never before. Some will have found their life calling. Pray as they finish their reports, and as Jack has a final evaluative interview with them.

Meanwhile, Jack finished lectures in two courses. In Orientation to Practical Theology, freshmen learn how to carefully observe and listen to Christians and their practice to discern God’s will in concrete situations. In Models of Christian Leadership, first year Master students learn about various secular and Christian models of leadership; they complete a self-assessment on their own leadership style and write a research paper on pastoral leadership. While these students complete their assignments, Jack’s attention moves to Seminar in Practical Theology, starting on April 24, where he guides 4 senior students in a personal research project involving Christian leadership.

Coffee Helping Missions

April-May are usually the busiest months of the year at the ETF. Two international conferences were ‘squeezed’ into this busy schedule (see the prayer page). We value your prayers, encouragement and support in a special way.

You deserve a cup of coffee after reading all this. Have you tried the specialty coffees from a Christian business that helps support our ministry!

Because of increasingly strict privacy laws, it is now more difficult to use pictures with recognizable faces in them. Although we miss being able to do so, in this digital age with continual surveyance, it is probably better to be cautious. We hope the absence of pictures doesn’t mean absence of your prayerful involvement.

Posted by: Jack | March 24, 2018

Member care



Even though preparation took longer than usual, the flower workshop fell into place!!! Six people have signed up! Also several ladies will be coming to my home to make Easter pieces. These workshops will take place March 27-29. In addition to enjoyment, pray for spiritual conversations.

When it rain it pours! This was our experience with visitors this last month! Our new BMW area director and his wife visited the ETF as well as our home in Maastricht. We also enjoyed fellowship with a fellow BMW missionary, Roger Peterson, working in Paris – as part of BMW’s member care. Our conversations sharpened us in ministry and our spiritual lives and helped us think about future ministry. We were very encouraged. Since both visits were from people ministering in similar situations we could empathize and challenge each other. We were also refreshed with meaningful prayer.

Unfortunately we had extremely cold weather ( -3ºC or 26ºF) which made our city walk through Maastricht rather brisk! Here we are by the frozen watermill wheel! This was something we had never seen before! But it still wasn’t cold enough for the 11-city-ice-skating-race (“Elfstedentocht”) in northern Netherlands.

Currently, three of Jack’s students are working hard to finish their Master thesis in the next few months. They are writing on the following topics

  1. How pastors deal with spirituality and tradition in their leadership,
  2. How churches can guide adolescents with clinical depression in their faith development, and
  3. How Christian organizations and their counselors provide hope for persecuted Christians.

Please pray for wisdom, diligence and the opportunity for interviews as these students complete their research and writing.

Thank you for praying with us and supporting us. Over the last year, the dollar has lost 15% of its value as compared to the Euro, so even with an improving economy, our income is down by that much. As we look towards the next stretch of ministry, we will need $1000/month of additional support. Could you please prayerfully consider joining our support team? Click here for help from our mission’s website and be sure to designate any gifts for our Barentsen Support account.

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Organizing the spice drawer!

Posted by: Jack | February 22, 2018

Eating with Leaders

2018-02-03 10.20.34The smell of frying bacon teased our taste buds as we entered the large hall for a leadership breakfast. It was a pole barn type structure in a rural industrial area, the home of one of Belgian’s small evangelical churches. Eighty people from many area churches gathered to meet one another and be encouraged in their church leadership. Bethesda, a Belgian Christian counseling ministry, organized this event. Last year, Jack spoke on church renewal. This year, Pastor Raymond Hausoul, an ETF graduate, spoke about our vision for the future. He reminded us that God’s vision for the future is both far and near, both earthly and heavenly. Having finished his PhD dissertation on this topic last year at the ETF, he asked us, “So what are your hopes for your church and your city?”

2018-02-03 11.50.12-1It was a special privilege hearing Raymond speak. He is a believer from the Dutch area where we have served since 1988, studied at the ETF and did his internship with Jack in a local Bible teaching ministry. And now, as Dr. Hausoul, he pastors several Flemish churches, speaks widely and writes books about God’s future vision, Jesus’ healing ministry, and much more. Raymond and Jack hope to work together more at the ETF as well as in encouraging and training church leaders.

2017-12-07 21.37.47Pat is working diligently on the flower workshops that are coming up. She finds it quite a challenge to find just the right design for a workshop, and often needs to adjust her idea because materials are not available (or too expensive). Sometimes a project just doesn’t come together, and this is one of those times. Please pray for Pat as she plans the workshops, and for publicity and participants. Pray for the workshops as outreach opportunity. Pat and several others will also decorate the church for Easter, so pray for our Easter outreach.

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Flower workshop at a community center

One final news bit. As of January 1, Jack was promoted to full professor of Practical Theology. He has been invited to hold an inaugural lecture at the beginning of the next academic year, on September 24, in Leuven. We pray that this may be an opportunity to strengthen Jack’s outreach in his writings on pastoral leadership. Please also pray for preparing this special lecture.

Our prayer page has also been updated. Check it out for more (daily) prayer requests.

Coffee Helping Missions

You deserve a cup of coffee after reading all this. Have you tried the specialty coffees from a Christian business that helps support our ministry!


Manuel enjoyed the move last year in his own way!



Posted by: Jack | January 26, 2018

New projects ahead

Dear friends,

Thank you for your goodness and faithfulness to us this past year. We depend on your prayers, and are very grateful for the year-end gifts. Over the last few years, we have come to depend on them more than before.

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ETF Graduates 2017

Allow us to give a catch up over the last few months. There was much to be thankful for. Jack’s new course on Pastoral Theology went well. It is an in-depth course on pastoral care that challenged students to think biblically and theologically about their future ministry. In another course, Jack and students enjoyed an evening presentation of the Belgian Gospel Mission to encourage students towards church planting in Belgium. Students wanted to hear about BGM’s new strategy for missions. Students are currently now in the middle of exams.

2015-03-17 22.27.59As 2018 gets underway, Jack is harnessing his time to do more writing. Since 2012, Jack has met for encouragement with the pastors of evangelical churches in Brussels, Antwerp, Gent and Brugge, Belgium’s major cities. These pastors wanted to write their stories, celebrating 100 years of evangelical churches in these cities, but also honestly facing the difficulties to stay afloat in a dynamic and changing city culture. Jack will add chapters on church development in cities. The book targets young church planters as well as the people in city ministries. We hope to pass on valuable lessons and tips. The book is near completion and we are looking for a publisher.

2017-12-07 21.40.38Pat is planning spring and summer workshops as well as for Easter. During November and December, she has been unusually busy with 11 flower workshops. In the church neighborhood workshop, Pat had more personal contact with the ladies. Otherwise, flower business is very slow.

IMG-20180102-WA0002We waved Rebecca off to Melbourne, Australia on December 28th for a “working holiday.” She works at various jobs (in nursing so far), then travels in between, until June 1. It’s currently 103 degrees … and her hostel doesn’t have airco!

Our grandson Manuel delights us with his babbling and pointing.

Coffee Helping Missions

If you’ve read this far … why not order specialty coffees from a Christian business and help support our ministry! Really, this is no joke!


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Thanks for praying. Our prayer page has more prayer requests.

Posted by: Jack | November 14, 2017

Turning points

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Sharing testimonies of salvation

“Slave to this world, weighed down by my own foolishness.” With these words, Wendy began her testimony last Sunday. In a striking way, she told of the amazing change, truly a rescue operation, that the Father, Jesus and the Spirit had worked out in her life. Sonaily, the second lady to be baptized, told how she gradually grew towards the Lord, until one day “I was filled with unexpected wonder and indescribable joy.” It was only later that she realized this was the work of the Holy Spirit.


The baptism water being warmed up in a very cold church

In a very moving service, these ladies were baptized, signalling the most important turning point in their lives. The service was, of course, followed by home-baked refreshments and coffee to exchange impressions with friends and family.  We were also filled with joy to witness how our heavenly Father delights in shining his light into the darkest human places!

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Brussels downtown, close to where the ILA conference was held

In another turning point, Jack and some Dutch colleagues presented research on church leadership in the Netherlands and Belgium in Brussels at the global conference of the International Leadership Association. This is a broad non-religious forum for leadership. This year’s theme was “Leadership in Turbulent Times,” with 1,000 people attending. Jack’s presentation ran parallel without about 18 other presentations, with about 20 people participating. Talking about religious leadership in this context makes people more aware of the crucial role of religion and spirituality in leadership. Although religion is often seen as hateful and divisive, instead we speak about reconciliation and peace.


View into yard from dining room / kitchen

A final turning point was Laura & Adriaan moving into their new house. Life on the 10th story, with an elevator only from the 1st to the 9th floor, became rather challenging with a baby, a stroller and groceries to carry. They found a nice family home in an ideal commuter town close by. It has a


The house on the right, the last one in a row of seven homes.



finished attic (thus, 5 bedrooms) all in less than 1200 sq.ft. Lots of stripping, painting, wallpapering, laying laminate floors, taking down and setting up closets (no walk-ins!), building kitchen cabinets, and so on. Jack and his brother even plastered several walls (advice: don’t!). We soon hope to visit again to see the final result.

Thank you for thinking of us. We value your prayers and support, so necessary to enable us to serve in our part of the world. For more prayer requests, see our prayer page.

Coffee Helping Missions

A unique support idea: Order specialty coffees from a Christian business and help support our ministry !




Posted by: Jack | September 30, 2017

Farewell and welcome

The ETF continues to touch people’s lives. We are deeply grateful for your partnership with us in this ministry. We’d like to share with you the stories of two people whose lives have been changed through the ETF.

GEG_4186Prof. Hofmeyr from South Africa recently said farewell to the ETF. He had been introduced to the ETF 12 years ago, and taught historical theology for many years. “It is a very special place, that has touched me deeply,” he shared. “There is a commitment to evangelical scholarship combined with an intense and personal spiritual life. You don’t realize the impact of the ETF, reaching even to South Africa and Malawi. Keep up this good work, the ETF takes up a unique place in theological scholarship and service.”

GEG_3433In the same week, Dudley Brown, who served as missionary in Romania, defended his dissertation on Severian of Gabala, a 5th century preacher in Constantinople (around the same time as the well-known John Chrisostom). His study focused on how Severian read and interpreted the Bible. Dr. Brown now teaches New Testament, Bible study methods, and other subjects in various colleges, based in his home town in Colorado.

2017-09-25 11.12.37These are just two lives who were deeply touched by ETF’s teaching ministry. Just this past Monday, all our new students were introduced to the ETF staff in a special moment in our chapel. More lives to be transformed, more stories that are being woven. We praise God for this opportunity and pray that we will be faithful stewards of the gospel in this ministry.

Thank you for praying with us, and supporting us in this vital ministry. For more prayer needs, see our prayer page.

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