Posted by: Jack | September 22, 2019

What about … (part 4)?


  • May: WHAT ABOUT … the church in Maastricht?
  • June: WHAT ABOUT … the ministry at the ETF?
  • July: WHAT ABOUT … furlough?

What about … FUTURE PLANS?


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Pat and her brothers as we visited the old Bethlehem Steel plants

Our furlough has started. We’ve been in the States for almost two weeks. We have enjoyed some very special visits and have many more to come. We were awed by the Bethlehem Steel Stacks with Pat’s brothers, and admired the fudge makers of Mackinac Island with good friends. In between, Jack keeps up with school work and student emails.


Traveling and sharing about the ministry gives us a chance to think about the future. We bought a house in Houten and moved, mainly to make our retirement in 2026 affordable. This new chapter of life and ministry has some ‘old’ and some ‘new’ challenges.



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Fudge-making …

Lord willing, Jack will continue to serve as missionary professor at the ETF in Leuven, Belgium. His teaching and writing on church leadership is bearing fruit, and several new opportunities are on the horizon.


  • Jack will co-author a book on change leadership in the church with a Dutch colleague and teacher, to encourage and equip pastors and church boards.
  • He has been invited to teach church leadership in Eastern Europe, working together with other scholars on church leadership, and with ETF graduates who are themselves teaching in Bible colleges in Eastern Europe.
  • Jack’s book on Hope for the Church in the City is leading to new contacts to investigate and write about city churches in the Netherlands.
  • Finally, some new PhD students from Germany and the US are interested in Jack’s areas of expertise. This involves research supervision to strengthen the research Jack is already doing.
  • A vital but often unseen part of this ministry is Pat’s support from the home, often in hospitality and outreach, sometimes in special activities like a house-warming party or flower workshop, thus enabling both of us to reach out to others in our new town. Her family ministry is also invaluable.


De Meerkoet

Our neighborhood center with various (volunteer) activities

These projects in leadership training and outreach will carry on until and beyond retirement. Regular missionary support as well as some project funds will continue to be needed for at least these next 7 years since the school offers no salary. In fact, we still need additional supporters to pick up where some of our aging supporters had to leave off.


In the meantime, we get to know our new neighbors in Houten. This town of about 50,000 people, close by Utrecht (300,000 inhabitants) has many volunteer networks, some good churches, and many people in need. We want to serve our town, sharing the gospel of Christ as we serve where we can. We also are very blessed that our children and families live very close by, and Jack’s family as well.

Coffee Helping MissionsThank you for praying for us. Our prayer page has more prayer requests. Remember, if you order coffee from, you sponsor us and some other new mission projects of our mission.

Posted by: Jack | July 21, 2019

What about … (part 3)


  • May: WHAT ABOUT … the church in Maastricht?
  • June: WHAT ABOUT … the ministry at the ETF?
  • July: WHAT ABOUT … furlough?


Feet up

Who ever thought of the word for “furlough” for what missionaries do when they come to visit their supporting churches? The word actually comes from the Dutch word “verlof,” which according to wikipedia means “leave of absence.” For the Dutch this is often their annual vacation, but also a medical leave of absence, a maternity or a paternity paid leave of absence from work. So what is a missionary furlough? It is absence from ministry in Europe, but presence with you who pray for us and support us.

But there’s a twist to this in our digital world. Although we will be physically present in the US, Jack will be digitally present for his students in Europe, and we’ll easily stay in touch with colleagues, friends and family in Europe. So really, furlough is not a leave of absence, but a period of intense DOUBLE PRESENCE, in the US as well as in Europe!


Please pray for our furlough and for the goals we have in mind:

  1. VISIT all supporting churches and many personal supporters.
  2. Be INSPIRED in seeing God at work in all these churches and in individual lives.
  3. Be an ENCOURAGEMENT by sharing what God has done in our ministry at the ETF, and in our personal lives.
  4. Time for DISCERNING God’s direction for the next 5 years of ministry, including Jack’s writing ministry (how to best serve the church and missions).
  5. ADD to our support team. Even though our expenses are less in our new location, several long time supporters have had to stop.
  6. Take time for personal R&R

Schedule2019-03-17 14.10.56-3

Our furlough is scheduled for September and October. We are really look forward to visiting our churches and many of our supporters again. Here is our schedule:

  • Sept 10: Flight from Amsterdam to Newark
  • Sept 11: First Baptist Church in Allentown, PA (tbc – to be confirmed)
  • Sept 13: Flight from Allentown to Detroit
  • Sept 14-15: Skiff Lake Bible Church, Jackson, MI
  • Sept 21-22: Green Lake Calvary Church, Caledonia, MI
  • Sept 25: First Baptist Church, Nashville, MI (tbc)
  • Sept 28-29: Merriam Christian Chapel, Albion, IN (conference)
  • Oct 5-6: Pleasant View Bible Church, Warsaw, IN (conference)
  • Oct 12-13: Baptist Christian Church, Royal Center, IN
  • Oct 19-20: Waterford Community Church, Waterford, MI
  • Oct 21: flight from Detroit to Allentown
  • Oct 23: First Baptist Church, Allentown, PA (tbc)
  • Oct 25: Princeton Christian Fellowship, Princeton, NJ
  • Oct 26-27: Stone Hill Church of Princeton, NJ
  • Oct 27-28: flight from Newark to Amsterdam

Feel free to contact us to get together when we are in your area. We’d be delighted!

Prayer Team

Thank you for being parst of our prayer and support team. Our prayer page has an updated list of prayer concerns.


A happy home owner continuing with the needed improvements – here framing a newly placed window.

Posted by: Jack | June 1, 2019

What about … (part 2)

Today, we have lived in our new home for two months. Yesterday, we gave the first tour of our home to a US visitor, a dear supporter from Michigan who stopped by briefly. What an encouragement to be reminded of how many are praying for us regularly and supporting us.

Last month, we began to answer some questions that our move might raise. The first one was WHAT ABOUT … the church in Maastricht? (See the post of May 1). This second one is:

WHAT ABOUT … the ministry at the ETF?


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Jack with the Belgian Pastors who wrote the book “Hope for the City”

Our main ministry focuses on Jack’s teaching and research at the ETF, which is the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, located in Leuven, the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium.


Jack is now full professor and he TEACHES a number of courses in practical theology (Research Methods, Christian Education and Discipleship, Development of Pastoral Leadership, Models of Christian Leadership, and Theology of Pastoral Care).

As chair of the Department of Practical Theology, Jack also COORDINATES the many guest teachers in practical theology and participates in various meetings to help run the university, monitor its quality, and prepare for its next accreditation visit (2019-2020).

Cover book JackJack also conducts RESEARCH, which results in various publications. Recently, Jack and several Belgian pastors completed a book, “Hope for the City.” It describes the challenges of the city church. It is the first of its kind in Dutch. Our prayer is that it will motivate Christians to consider pioneer ministry in Dutch and Belgian cities. A book presentation will be held in an evangelical church in Antwerp, Belgium, on Saturday, June 8.

Jack is also writing three chapters in a book on the future of pastoral leadership in the Netherlands, that should be published in Dutch by the end of the year.

What has changed since our move?

Jack’s ministry at the ETF has not changed. However, travel to the ETF is now 4 hours by train and bus, instead of one hour by car. However, the train has become Jack’s new office, and he stays overnight one or two nights a week at the ETF.

What remains the same?

The ETF is not able to pay Jack a salary, so we depend fully on our missionary support for this ministry. The ETF is able to help with some ministry and travel expense.

Some special needs

1. With the move, Jack needed to upgrade his 8-year old laptop to a more portable one with longer battery life, combined with a larger free-standing monitor, extra power supply and docking station. A cost of altogether about €1500. We already purchased the new laptop because the old one crashed, but still need to cover these significant expenses. If you can help, please send a donation to the Barentsen’s Equipment Fund.

2018-02-03 11.50.12-12. Raymond Hausoul, one of Jack’s former students and intern, now a colleague in ministry and teaching, occasionally needs help from a native English speaker to correct his English writings for an article or a book. If you are able to help, please write us, and we’ll get you in contact with Raymond.

Thank you for praying with us and supporting us in this ministry at the ETF.

Posted by: Jack | May 1, 2019

What about … (part 1)

The last 6 months have been a whirlwind for us: renovating, breaking down walls, wallpapering and painting, moving … and more fixing up. It’s not entirely over yet. Thanks for all the encouraging notes and cards we have received. It’s good to know many are praying for us and standing with us.

Since our move last month to Houten in the Netherlands, several have asked:

WHAT ABOUT … the church in Maastricht?

Good question! Most recently, we shared that they had found a new building for the Sunday worship services. It’s a nice neighborhood center that they rent for Sunday mornings. It takes a lot of setting up chairs and music, but it is warm in the winter! The church is doing well in the new location, with around 50-60 in attendance.

When we announced that we would move away, the elders started a search for one or two new elders. To date, they have found one person willing to serve, so the board continues strong with 4 elders. One of them is our young pastor Jesse, an ETF graduate (where Jack teaches) who continues to grow in his role as spiritual leader.

Your prayers for the church’s outreach, growth and spiritual health are always appreciated! Maastricht is a university city with a teaching hospital, and lots of people moving through. The church attracts a number of these folks, but many move on. So it is always a challenge to teach and to disciple. Keep praying for their ongoing ministry.

So … what other questions do you have? What about … ???

Thanks for thinking with us! And for praying for us.

Posted by: Jack | April 9, 2019

A New Chapter

We drove away from Maastricht for the last time on Friday, March 29th. All had been moved the days before. The clean-up of our rental home went smoothly with the help of many from the church. As we closed the door behind us, it felt like we finished one chapter, and started a new one.

Our house renovations were completed enough for us to move, with more than enough work remaining to be done! We’ve met a handful of new neighbors, and begun to explore our new surroundings – by bicycle.

  • How did we every accumulate so much stuff? — I’m not allowed to tell how many boxes we took!
  • We’re very blessed with our new home, its location, and our new neighbors
  • We love being closer to our children and Jack’s family

A few pictures tell the rest of the story:

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The back of our house, with an old doorway being turned into a kitch window above the new sink


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A picture of our backyard from the first floor, with a view towards the soccer field next door beyond the common parking lot.







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View from our front window. See the bridge? Just like Monet’s famous paintings.

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Our grandson Manuel in the moving truck








Leaving Maastricht was a moving experience. We said our church farewells after Jack’s last sermon (March 17). The church gave us an apple tree from the local area to plant in our new yard. People had hung paper apples in the tree with words of appreciation. It was a moving time. We also said many personal farewells with friends and neighbors. We will visit Maastricht again, and pray for the Lord to guide the church in their new church-meeting location.

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An emotional farewell from church, with our whole family present.

Meanwhile, at the ETF, Jack’s research is bearing fruit. A book co-authored with 4 Belgian pastors and one student presents the challenges of the church in the city. Another project on the future of church leadership is nearing completion by summer. All ETF staff is working hard towards the research visitation and renewed accreditation of the ETF in the next few months.


Cover book Jack

The book cover on ‘Hope for the City’


Pray for Jack’s students. One is in the final stages of dissertation writing, focusing on ethical leadership through the metaphor of covenant. The other is beginning doctoral research on Bible reading among German evangelical teenagers. Jack supervises several other students as they write their master thesis on pastoral counseling and church leadership. Pray for diligence and wisdom as these students complete their projects, and that their research will be a helpful resource for pastors and other Christian workers.

Thanks for standing with us and praying for us. Our prayer page has more prayer updates. May we all experience Christ’s resurrection power anew this coming Easter.

In Christ, Jack and Pat Barentsen

In case you missed it: our new address is

Reigerweide 1
3993 CJ Houten
the Netherlands



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).



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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.

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