The first Children at Risk school in Holland started in January. The goal is to teach our students the Biblical foundation for reaching out to children at risk, basic principles and a lot of practical advice on how to start and maintain a ministry for vulnerable children. During a period of three months they get a wide variety of information related to this.
Kids’ clubs for refugee children
We have a wonderful group of international staff and students, who all have a special calling to reach out to children in need. The emphasis of this specific school is on refugee children. The classes our students receive during the week are put into practice on the weekends when they help in kids’ clubs for children from refugee families.
It is encouraging to see that in many places around the country of Holland, volunteers from churches have started support groups and programs to help refugee families and their children.
Leading a program for children until eleven o´clock at night
Another practical application of the lecture happened when the students were invited to help with a weekend conference for Arab Christians. The conference leaders had fled many years ago to Holland, and now they help other Arab Christian refugees, strengthening them in their faith and encouraging them to put their hope and trust in the Lord Jesus. All the kids in the children’s program came from an Arab background, and although they spoke Dutch very well and had lived in Holland for a number of years, there were some obvious cultural differences. Like going on very late with the program, until eleven o’clock at night! Of course this was no problem for the children, haha, but for the children’s workers?!? Well, they had to adapt a little ☺
To the monastery
In February we went for a week with the whole school, students and staff, to a European conference about refugees. It was held in a monastery in the south of Holland and brought together a big group of people from 60 different churches and organizations that work directly with refugees all over Europe. We heard a lot of impressive stories and had the privilege of hearing firsthand the stories of some of the refugees themselves. It was a very special week where we learned a lot.
We are so proud of our staff and students, how they have adapted and are working hard! We´re about halfway through the lecture phase, and it is going really well. The first book report, newsletter and test are already done. And very soon the first three months will have passed and the practical outreach will be in front of us. The plan is that a team of staff and students will go to some locations in the Middle East to help refugee children and their families in the refugee camps.
Refugees in different countries
Some of the countries around the world that have recently been overwhelmed with huge numbers of refugees are Bangladesh, Uganda, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. For example, Lebanon is a country of about 6 million people, but more than 1 million of those are refugees. That means that one in every six people in that country is a refugee. If you would have the same proportions in Holland, that would mean there would be 3 million refugees, but in reality, Holland has only 250,000 refugees.
Turkey is the country in the Middle East that has received the largest number of refugees. Official figures state 3.7 million. Roughly half the refugees are children. Most of these children have to deal with severe trauma from the past, and are now growing up in families that have to deal with losses and challenges of coping and providing on a daily basis.
Our team will go to reach out to these children and families in as many ways as possible, including dealing with trauma. We expect that this will be a great blessing and help for many children and families.
We are planning to join the team for the last month of their time in the Middle East, and will report more on this in our next letter.
Back in Heidebeek after 38 years
It is really nice for us to be back at the YWAM base of Heidebeek in Holland. This is where we did our Discipleship Training School (DTS) 38 years ago. At that time we had no idea how long we would be in YWAM. Our original plan was to stay just one year in this mission movement and then go back to our jobs as teacher and nurse. Yes, it all went a little differently! We are so thankful to the Lord for the privilege of participating in so many ministries with children at risk in Brazil and around the world.
Teaching in Australia
And how privileged we still are to be able to make new plans with Him, giving classes and schools, equipping students and staff. In April Johan is scheduled to go for two weeks to Perth, Australia, where a Children at Risk school has been running for many years with a focus on the children of Asia, in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Since we were able to give a school and seminars last year on that side of the globe, the children there have been very much on our hearts!
All the before-mentioned countries tend to have hot climates. So we are enjoying the cold weather here in Holland this winter--especially Johan, whose favorite sport is ice skating! He enjoys skating at the longest artificial skating rink (3 km long) in the world, which is actually very close to our little cabin where we are staying.
Of course we had lots of fun with our children and grandchildren during the Christmas break. Celebrating Christmas, 5 birthdays (!), New Year’s Eve, throwing snowballs, building an igloo, going ice skating, going to a Christmas concert, to a playground, to a dolphin show and to church together. Our family even played a game of wheelchair basketball! We were challenged by Davi and his team, and we all had to use wheelchairs. It was not a very big surprise when Davi’s team won!
Our daughter Michele, our son-in-law Romeu and their two children returned to Brazil last week after a wonderful time of furlough, which we enjoyed just as much as they did, after not having seen them for a whole year. And now we look forward to visiting Johanneke and Jonathan and their 3 daughters after they move to England. And of course we enjoy the extra time we can have with Pieter and Melissa and their children, as well as Dilma and Davi, before we hope to travel back to Brazil again in September.
Thanks to all
We would like to thank all of you who help us and pray for us. We are aware that all of you have your ups and downs, small and big problems, but through it all, you have been faithful to God and have continued to be a support to us as well. Thank you so much! This week I received a very special poetic translation of Zephaniah 3:17 which I would like to share with you!
"The eternal God, the God who is three in one; He who abides in the center of your being, is a powerful and courageous warrior. He has come to set you free, keep you safe and give you victory.
We cheer for Him. He glows with extraordinary pleasure and enjoys your presence. He has engraved a place in himself for you, where He relaxes in love and tenderness for you.
He cannot contain Himself when He thinks about you and with the greatest joy He dances around as He waits for you… He has placed you above all other creatures and creations onto the highest level in His priorities. In fact He shouts and sings in triumph, with pleasure proclaiming the ecstasy in His heart in a song of pure joy!
All because of you”
May this God, who loves each of us so much, bless you richly!
With lots of love,
Johan and Jeannette
- Pray for the students, that they will continue to learn a lot during the school, and will obey God´s will for their lives.
- Pray for the staff and students during their outreach in the Middle East.
- Pray that many families will be touched by the love of God.
- Give thanks for our family and friends, and the way we were able to enjoy each other’s company.
- Give thanks for the first half of the school that went really well.
- Pray for Johan’s trip to Australia in April, where he will teach in a Children at Risk School.
- Give thanks for our health.