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.

Posted by: Jack | September 16, 2017

Daniel never saw God; and yet …

At 10 AM, we picked up Tom and Dawn at the Amsterdam docks, friends from a supporting church. We walked through downtown Amsterdam and visited the King’s palace.

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A Dutch pancake supper with Tom and Dawn, also celebrating our 32nd anniversary.

The next day, we visited the ETF in Leuven during the one-week summer school. They sat in on the Daniel course. It was the day for student presentations. One student discussed how she was impressed that Daniel persisted in his faith even though it seemed God was far away and not answering prayer. Over lunch, this lady student, now working in psychiatric care, shared how the students had a special prayer meeting during class to pray for one another. Many students were facing difficult situations and wanted to remain faithful like Daniel. She has studied theology for many years at the ETF, but felt that now things were beginning to click. She now saw how theology and life connected. One of Pat’s prayers has been that students would not receive only head knowledge, but that their hearts would be touched by the Lord. The Lord was answering prayers!


August has been full with a short hiking break, our annual BMW field conference, ETF summer school, and the ETF doctoral colloquium. This is an intensive study week with 40 PhD students and 30 faculty (some of which Jack advises personally).

Oh, and our grandson Manual celebrated his first birthday!

With fall beginning, Jack is preparing for new courses on pastoral care and leadership, Pat is gearing up for flower workshops, and at church we started our new season with the theme “longing for God”. September 27, our church will have an important meeting to flesh out our vision for the coming years.

Also, we just found out that Laura and Adriaan have become first-time home owners in Houten. Soon, we’ll be helping them paint to get the house ready for them to move in.


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 | 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 | 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!


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