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?

BMW Conf 2015 (1)

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?

ILSE Conference (1a)

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.


Posted by: Jack | April 15, 2016

Joy and sorrow mingle together

Thank you for the dozens of sympathy cards and emails at the passing of Jack’s mother on March 17. In spite of her suffering and our loss, it was a precious time as family to draw together. We take comfort in knowing that she is with the Lord.2016-03-23 18.41.49

Jack’s dad faces major adjustments. But here is his first selfie with his sons! Imagine learning how to use a smartphone and Whatsapp at age 90! Pray for Jack’s dad to cope with being alone, and for the family in supporting one another.

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Joy and sorrow mingle unexpectedly. Laura is halfway in her first pregnancy, with all going well. Last weekend we had a special party to find out whether it would be a boy or a girl. Can you tell? (Hint: click on the picture to the right)2016-04-09 12.24.14

The ministry has been very full. Jack teaches on Christian leadership, guides students through theological research, and will soon teach “Church Planting, Development and Leadership.” On April 29-30, he is responsible for an international conference on leadership and diversity, hosted at the ETF, at which he is scheduled to speak twice.

Jack completed his first proposal for a major project on church leadership that would involve two doctoral students. It was submitted to the Belgian Ministry of Education to request funding. However, the competition is strong (only 1 in 8 proposals gets funded). Pray for the Lord’s direction. If approved, this project will strengthen ETF’s research and training in Christian leadership in Europe.

On the lighter side of life: Jack and Pat enjoyed an André Rieu concert in Belgium, a special gift from Jack’s family for their 30th anniversary last year. Our daughters, Laura and Rebecca, made some famous friends in Amsterdam … well, at Madame Tussauds! And Pat worked with a few ladies at a special pre-Easter flower workshop.

Thanks for standing with us in prayer. Please check out our prayer page for the latest.

Posted by: Jack | March 19, 2016

Promoted to Glory

Dear prayer partners,

Since our last update a month ago, many of you have emailed how my mother is doing. After some difficult weeks, she passed into the Lord’s presence on Thursday, March 17. She had quickly lost strength in the last few weeks, and now she is finally free from her suffering and enjoying the Lord’s presence.

The last few days were of course very busy, but it was a special time for our family in drawing together to support my dad, to share grief and memories. She will be buried on March 25, Good Friday.

Thank you for your prayers, Jack and Pat

Posted by: Jack | February 12, 2016

Praying …

Just a quick note to ask for your prayers for Jack’s mother (and the family) over the next few days or weeks. She was diagnosed with MDS, a form of bone marrow cancer, in July of 2014. During chemotherapy in the course of a year, her condition remained relatively stable. However, since last August, chemo was no longer possible, and her condition has grown worse by the week. Last Friday (Feb 5), all treatments and tests were stopped, since they could not provide any further relief whatever the outcome. Tomorrow night, we meet with Jack’s mother and father, their pastor and the whole family in a brief private ceremony of thanksgiving and prayer, including the Lord’s Supper. Jack’s mother is slipping fast, and at age 79, she is ready to meet her Savior.

Posted by: Jack | February 2, 2016

And off they go…

StudentenIt happens every year around this time. A dozen or more students email Jack about proposals and contracts … until they get approval to start their internship. Most start on Monday February 8, and continue until shortly after Easter. Altogether, 16 ETF students will do an internship.

One student was all set for an internship with a counseling ministry but it fell through at the last moment; she will now serve with an outreach ministry for children and youth in a disadvanted neighborhood in a small city in the Netherlands. Another student had to get a certificate of good behavior, so he could go to prison – well, to serve with an evangelical chaplain as he meets with inmates and holds regular Bible studies and services.

Every student has his or her story. Four will go abroad (UK [2], US, Ecuador), one serves in an Arab speaking church, and then there’s a student evangelistic ministry and a Bible school ministry. About nine students do a church internship, ministering in preaching, Bible study, pastoral care, youth work and much more. Please pray for these young people to serve with diligence and humility, to learn from feedback and interaction with their supervisor, and to discern the Lord’s guidance for their future ministry.



See also The Barentsen prayer page.

Posted by: Jack | December 1, 2015

Stepping Out

Commencement – it happens every year at the ETF in November. Several dozen students received their diploma in a beautiful Saturday afternoon ceremony. Bachelor graduates often continue their studies for a Master’s degree at the ETF or elsewhere, while master graduates were often already serving in ministries, some even as pastors. It is inspiring to see so many young people take up the call to ministry!

2015-11-14 Diplomaday (2)

Master student just after receiveing their diploma

Installment – this happens only rarely. Jesse, one of ETF’s graduates, had served as pastoral assistent for one year, and was now formally installed as our church’s new pastor. Some denominational leaders and a few area pastors were present for the afternoon celebration. Jesse is reputed to be the fastest pastor on bicycle – he almost attained professional status in the cycling sport some years ago. We are glad he is stepping out into ministry here in Maastricht.

Wisteria – that is less mysterious than it soundETF Building 1s. Wisteria is a huge dormitory building attached to the ETF. It houses dozens of students that study at the famous Catholic university in Leuven, although most are not religious. Every year, ETF students host an event, this year a pancake party, to meet these neighbors, build friendships and share Christ. They’re stepping out into ministry long already before they have their diplomas!

One concern that makes Pat and me step out in faith, is my mother’s health. She suffers intense pain in the last stages of her cancer (MDS). Our final farewell is coming soon, but we can entrust her into God’s hands with confidence that we’ll see each other again some day. We’re praying that she will find comfort in the thought of being with Christ, in spite of her current suffering.

Thank you for praying with us. See our prayer page for more details.

Posted by: Jack | October 19, 2015

Internationally Speaking

2015-10-07 12.49.39Early October was an amazing week.

  • Two colleagues in practical theology visited from South Africa (Potchefstroom, left and middle), to get acquainted and see how we could strengthen each others teaching and research.
  • A guest professor from the US (Grand Rapids, 2nd from the right) taught a week long Master course on the educational mission of the church
  • A new guest professor from the Netherlands (far right) taught a module in pastoral care

As chairman of the department, I got to meet with all of them, which made for an inspiring and very challenging week.

ETF is a very international place, with students and professors from many countries, serving together to equip pastors, missionaries and teachers to serve Christ.

Please keep praying as we develop these international networks. The strength of these relationships has a big impact on the quality and strength of the ETF as a theological training institution.

For more, see our The Barentsen’s prayer page

Posted by: Jack | September 27, 2015

Erasmus Exchange

Durham Magnificent Cathedral

Durham Magnificent Cathedral


A few weeks ago, I found myself in Durham, a small English village with a top ranked university, including a theology department and a seminary for training pastors. I participated in a study week where students presented research projects for their church ministry. It included projects like investigating how church members think theologically (or not) about their work, what future there might be for the ‘old’ cathedrals in reaching their cities, how Christians should respond to the increasing surveillance through camera’s everywhere in our cities, how dying churches could find new vitality, how revivalist movements develop today, and how preachers learn to listen first (to God and his Word) as they prepare to speak. Although some topics would not fit at the ETF, it was an inspiring week of interaction and learning.

Interaction in one of the week's many presentations

Interaction in one of the week’s many presentations

Why was I in Durham? Remember Erasmus? He was a Dutch theologian, scholar and linguist (from Rotterdam) who was very influential in the time of the Reformation. In his honor, the European Union makes available funds for students and professors to visit other universities in an exhange. Thus far, I have participated in three such exchanges: with universities in Slovakia, the Netherlands, and this one in Durham. These universities are all very different. Often I have taught my leadership classes, but I also learn from them. It enables me to further develop leadership training at the ETF in a way that fits our evangelical students and constituency.

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Wow, what a pulpit! Inside Durham’s cathedral

Thank you for being part of such efforts through your prayers and support. Our world changes quickly, so organizations and their leadership also change quickly — which includes churches and pastoral leadership. It is a challenge to remain faithful to Scripture while adapting to the new needs and questions of our world as we train pastors, missionaries and educators.

For a further update and prayer requests, please check the Barentsen Prayer Page

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