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!

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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

Posted by: Jack | August 17, 2015


Connected … how can we connect better with our neighborhood and our city? How can we connect meaningfully with one another as believers? How do we stay vitally connected with Christ? These core questions help us focus in the coming season in the Baptist church in Maastricht.

Our church praying for several young people connecting with various summer ministries abroad

Our church praying for several young people connecting with various summer ministries abroad

Several of our church members had a series of meetings with people from the neighborhood where we now meet in ‘their’ Catholic church. We were surprised by their warm welcome towards our church, and their invitation to get involved with them in neighborhood activities. These are social events that help us connect with people living right around our building, an opportunity like I have never seen before in our dominantly Roman Catholic area. We pray for spiritual openness to share not just our lives but also the gospel.

And then, serving together like this draws us together as believers. We get connected at deeper levels with one another. And again, this connects us more intimately with Jesus because we need his forgiveness, grace and empowerment to serve one another and our city in good harmony and with a clear testimony. Thanks for praying with us!

The missionaries and volunteers at the ETF, recognized for their service in the last chapel service of the year

The missionaries and volunteers at the ETF, recognized for their service in the last chapel service of the year

Jack stays ‘connected’ with the ETF. It is always a privilege to serve alongside many other missionaries, guests professors, volunteers and local staff to equip students for ministry.

One other connection: we were contacted by members of the church were we served in the 1990’s – the church is in great need of help, so please pray for wisdom in providing counsel.

For more prayer fuel, please check our prayer page.

Posted by: Jack | June 19, 2015

Looking ahead …

foot 2handCarolien distributed footprints and handprints during the Sunday service illustrating that the hand cannot say to the foot, “I do not need you.” Jack preached on spiritual gifts, emphasizing that all are needed in the body of Christ. Then we celebrated the Lord’s supper, and were reminded that all of us are important parts of the body. And finally, Onno and Jesse were ordained as elders to serve this body.

Two new elders ordained

Two new elders ordained!

It was a splendid service recognizing the special place the Lord gives everyone in the church.

This week, we’re working on plans for next season. Jack helped a church member set up Bible studies for next season, focusing on how Christians can live relevant lives in our society. Next, we hosted the small group leaders to review the year and think about strengthening care and community next season. Then, the elder board met at our home to discern God’s direction for the church in the coming season.

It is intense and exciting to see how the Lord is bringing people together to serve him. The church moved to its new location over a month ago. We’re settling in and praying for God’s direction in this new situation. We need more children’s workers and small group leaders. We are exploring ways to serve our new neighborhood. Pray with us that we discern prayerfully, as a board and as a church, God’s direction. We’re looking ahead …

Thank you for praying for these and other things. The Barentsen’s prayer page has more prayer news.

And here’s a great way to help support our ministry, simply by ordering delicious coffee from Coffee Helping Missions.

Posted by: Jack | May 29, 2015

Winding down and gearing up?

Here’s about winding down: a photo report

April: Jack spoke at a leadership conference in Chicago

April: Jack spoke at a leadership conference in Chicago

May: the Maastricht Baptist Church moved into a Catholic church building

May: the Maastricht Baptist Church moved into a Catholic church building

May 8-9: ETF leadership conference on 'The End of Authority' (Jack had the opening lecture).

May 8-9: ETF leadership conference on ‘The End of Authority’ (Jack had the opening lecture).

A special day out with Jack's Dad, now 89.

A special day out with Jack’s Dad, now 89.

A house project, rearranging Pat's blue plates on our wall

A house project, rearranging Pat’s blue plates on our wall

End of May: the annual ETF student-staff BBQ at the end of classes

End of May: the annual ETF student-staff BBQ at the end of classes

And here’s about gearing up:

1. Classes are over, but all of June is for exams and papers. Pray for students as they study hard, and for Jack and other staff as the correct stacks (digitally speaking) of student assignments.

2. The elder board of the Maastricht Church is now at full strength: 5 elders. The term of two elders expired, and only one continued. Two other elders were also appointed. The special ordination service will be June 7. Please pray for wisdom and unity of the new elder team as they plan for next season.

3. June 14 is our first baptism at our new location. One man will be baptized and share a clear testimony of salvation to all visitors. Pray also that some from our new neighborhood will visit the baptism.

We look forward to a more relaxed summer, after an incredibly full and busy year. Thanks for praying with us.

Here’s for more prayer requests.

Posted by: Jack | April 3, 2015

The last Easter service …

This Sunday should be the last Easter service that we hold in our current facilities. The owner has ended the rental contract for building where our Maastricht church currently rents. For over a year, people have been searching for affordable and strategic initiatives, and surprisingly a Catholic Church building with an aging but still functioning parish offers the best opportunity. Bosco church

That means that our Baptist church will worship at 9:30 on Sunday mornings, just before the Catholic mass at 11:30. I’ve heard of double services on Sunday, but never like this. I’m wondering, is this unique?

By the way, this is new location offers many unsuspected opportunities to get to know people and share Christ’s love. One hitch: the bishop has a meeting on April 23rd to approve (we hope and pray) while we need to move before April 26 if at all possible. So … pray!

2015-03-28 16.36.51In the meantime, Pat has been busy with Easter Flower workshops at church and at the shop, while Jack is busily preparing for a Chicago conference and short home ministry trip from April 10-20, visiting Merriam Christian Chapel, Green Lake Calvary Church and Baptist Christian Church.

Thanks for praying with us.

Posted by: Jack | February 27, 2015

Bridging the Generation Gap

2015-02-10 20.32.20

Brainstorming about the church for today

The past few weeks have been filled with meetings. Different groups of believers brainstormed about the changes in our society, that affect our churches and their leadership. One such meeting was in Belgium with young Christian adults, many of them ETF graduates. They interacted about why Belgian churches were not growing and what we could do about it.

Debating which direction is best

Debating which direction is best

A week later, a group of evangelical leaders met to discuss the results of this earlier brainstorm session. How we could encourage young believers in evangelism, church planting and leadership? We wrestled with the generation gap in Belgian church life. We want to bridge this gap, because within the next decade over 60% of Belgian church leaders will retire. Do we have enough young people to take their places?

On a more personal note, it is already over a month ago, that Pat’s father passed into the Lord’s presence. Pat spent two weeks in the States to be with her brothers. It is different having no parents, especially for her brothers who lived so close to them. In the meantime, Jack’s mother has finished her 6 rounds of chemo. She seems to be doing well, but we’re awaiting test results to see what to do next. We are thankful for the Lord’s strength in everything. Thank you to everyone who sent cards or email notes to encourage Pat and all of us.

Thank you for supporting us, which tells us you trust us to serve here as your partners. What a privilege!

For more prayer, check out our prayer page.

By the way, ETF students surprised us hugely by putting on a 3 course dinner to thank all professors and other staff for their hard work and service!

Our student can cook too!

Our students can cook too!

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