I have finally downloaded all my photos and had time to catch my breath from our trip, though Tom is still on the move and I just drove him to the airport for a trip to Pittsburgh and a Youth Specialties event.
It was great to be able to take this trip together. Tom’s three week trip to Britain was the longest we have been separated since we were married and neither of us like travelling overseas on our own.
I think that more than anything on our trip to the Netherlands I enjoyed the people we met and the new friendships we made. We asked to stay with people rather than in hotels and this provided a wonderful foundation for getting to know some of the organizers of the various events. The first few days were spent in Utrecht with Frank and Marika Mulder. Frank heads up Time To Turn which is a part of an international network of organizations that campaign for justice. Frank was also one of the translators for The New Conspirators into Dutch.
One evening we crammed 20 people into their small apartment to discuss what it means to live in community. 11 of them are about to move into a series of 5 small apartments (at least by American or Australian standards) in Utrecht in order to be involved in intentional community together. Frank and his able assistant Wanda kept us busy during our 2 weeks away speaking to emerging church groups, the Evangelical Alliance and several church congregations as well as the Time to Turn Festival in delft this last weekend. The emerging church is really only just beginning to grow in the Netherlands but there are some very creative new church plants that I think we will hear a great deal about in the near future.
On Saturday afternoon participants engaged in a protest outside the Nokia headquarters, highlighting the fact that many of the cell phone components are made by slave labour in the Congo. Everwhere we spoke we found that people were craving a deeper understanding of the kingdom of God and how to live out our Christian values in today’s worlds. Young people in all the groups we met with were looking for an authentic whole life faith that could impact every aspect of their lives.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was the opportunity to get together with a good friend from Australia who just happened to be in Europe while we were there. Louise and I went to medical school together and have remained friends ever since. It was wonderful to wander through the old city of Delft together on a glorious afternoon.
I was really challenged by the young people we met who take their faith seriously and as a consequence have committed not just to social activism but also to simplicity and community. Most of them don’t own cars – of course in a bicycle culture like Holland this is a little easier than it would be in most parts of the world. But they have also taken some very deliberate steps to live in the poorer parts of their cities and work to enable those at the margins to have a better life. May God continue to bless their efforts for his kingdom.