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!


Posted by: Jack | January 1, 2017

Our church homeless again?

“Gezegend Nieuw Jaar!” We wish you a blessed New Year, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We must be having fun because time is flying by! During our US trip in October we visited 5 of our supporting churches and many friends. Pat enjoyed time with her brothers. Jack’s presentation at the Atlanta leadership conference went well and he continues with some excellent contacts and networking. This will help him prepare for the next conference in Brussels in Oct 2017.

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The semester is winding down and classes are over. Jack’s students have studied discipleship, and made presentations on Bible study materials. Over the next month, they will write a major paper in the area of church and faith education, and prepare for the oral exam. Jack also supported students who organized a special training day on pastoral care and trauma.

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Our church in a circle at the end of our monthly Communion service.

The Catholic parish in whose building we meet will be discontinued at the end of this month. The church building, which seats over 400 with few other rooms, is too expensive to run so we couldn’t possibly buy it. It might be torn down (which leaves our church ‘homeless’ once again), but maybe it can be renovated into a multipurpose building. We’d love to continue to worship there (as tenants), so pray God to lead Catholic church and city officials in their decisions about the church building’s future.

Manuel 1611.jpgOur grandson Manuel is already 4½ months old. He is just adorable! Unfortunately, he still cries lots and is a fussy drinker – very trying for Laura and Adriaan. They have looked at possible allergies and various other causes. We’re amazed at the level of professional and medical care they receive. Still, Manuel grows quite normally and is already able to turn over both ways. We’re looking forward to our grandma/pa care days with him.

See also The Barentsen prayer page.



Posted by: Jack | October 18, 2016

NJ>PA>MI>IN>GA – catch us if you can!

Becoming grandparents on August 14 … four conference weeks for Jack in August and early September … start of the new semester in the last week of September … packing to get ready for our US trip …

2016-10-18 10.33.40.jpgIt’s been a whirlwind. Right now we are parked in Easton, PA for a few days. We’re enjoying the sunflowers in the yard of Pat’s brother’s home, a big coffee from D…D…, and an amazing 82oF sunny day. Plus catching up on jetlag, emails and reading. Soon we’ll visit Pat’s home church. Like I said: a whirlwind.

We’re visiting the US for almost 4 weeks. The immediate occasion is the opportunity Jack has to present some of his research on religious leadership in one of the many workshops at the annual conference of the International Leadership Association in Atlanta in early November. We received a special gift from one of our supporting churches as well as support through ETF to make this trip possible. We’re combining this with a visit some of our churches. Here’s the schedule:

  • Oct 15-16, Stone Hill Church of Princeton, NJ (sorry we didn’t get our blog out before this weekend)
  • Oct 19, First Baptist Church in Allentown, PA
  • Oct 23-24, Skiff Lake Bible Church, Jackson, MI
  • Oct 26, Pleasant View Bible Church, Warsaw, IN (personal visits and a small group)
  • Oct 29-30, Waterford Community Church, Waterford, MI
  • Nov 2-5, Pat back in Easton, Jack at the International Leadership Association conference in Atlanta

We hope to visit many friends. Don’t hesitate to mail us if we’re close by you to see if we can get together.

It seems that everywhere we go, leadership is a big need. In Europe, that’s because of the immigration and financial crisis, in the USA the immediate concern is the election. We felt very much spoken to when in our first church visit, the leadership set our sights upon a higher Kingdom that is surely taking root and sprouting new leaves, in spite of all appearances to the contrary. We serve our King and Savior Jesus Christ, no matter what happens in the early kingdoms we inhabit. May we all find courage to speak out for this kingdom everywhere we go.2016-10-09 16.50.10.jpg

PS: our grandson Manuel is doing well … but also a bit colicky. It so much reminds us of our first months with Laura. But his first smiles are priceless!

See also The Barentsen prayer page.




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?

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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?

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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.

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