Redeemer Stories: Ruan & Tinie

Name: Ruan and Tienie van Loggerenberg
Nationality: South African
Favourite Hobby: Tienie’s favourite hobby is to recreate desserts in a sugar free version. Ruan’s favourite hobby is to eat it. 😉

1. Tell us a little about yourselves!

We have been married for three years and have been living in the Netherlands for one year. We love South Africa, but we both had the dream and aspirations to move to Europe to travel and gain valuable international work and life experience. We enjoy spending time in the outdoors, taking long walks, cycling through the country side and scouting for good coffee cafés.

2. What’s your favourite part about living in the Hague area?

For the first time ever, we are living close to the beach! We love all the green zones as well as our monthly “kibbeling” lunch walk to the Buitenhof together.

3. What have you learned about God and who He is in this season?

Over the past year we have learned that His mercies for us are new every day, and that we should trust Him for everyday. In the process of replanting our roots, there has been so many times where we wanted to have it “all figured out” from the start. But in the last season we have learned to trust and rely on Him for every new day, and allow Him to show us the next step for each day.

4. Do you have any stories of God answering prayer or breaking through in situations that you’d like to share?

When we decided to move to the Hague, we struggled to find an apartment but prayed and trusted that God will put us in the right area where He wanted us to be. With two weeks left before we had to move out of our previous rental, God opened a door for us, even amongst six other candidates. There is no door that He cannot open in His time.

5. What are you thankful for?

Finding and being connected to a church family and a community of believers that are hungry for more of Jesus. In the Redeemer family our hearts have been awakened with faith to seek and search for more of Him. We are so thankful for His provision in giving us a home-away-from-home.

Redeemer Stories: Sumi

Sumita (Sumi!) Leonard
Nationality: American
Favourite Bible book: Ephesians

1. Tell us a little about yourself!

Hi! My name is Sumi. I grew up in Kolkata, India. I am adopted and am super blessed for the family the Lord chose for me. I did University and my first year of teaching in Rochester, New York. I then moved to Cambodia as a missionary teacher for the last 5 years. I am passionate about Jesus, Education, and Missions. I am 28 years old. I enjoy baking, basketball, worship music, movie nights/coffee dates with friends, and creative journaling.

2. What’s your favourite part about living in The Hague?

I moved here from Cambodia in July 2021. My favourite part is probably how walkable and cycle-friendly it is here. Coming from a busy Asian city, I am enjoying the fresh air and walks on the beach. I love how close everything is!

3. What have you learned about God and who He is in this season?

I’m still in a transition season as I continue looking for a stable job. Coming from super busy days and being fully known in my community, to a season of newness and free days- I’m learning that even in my chaos, loneliness, and uncertainty: He is the SAME God. I can depend on Him and not on my human understanding or feelings. The Lord has really taught me to slow down and remember no matter what season we are in, that He is Lord of all and He is near us. I’m really learning that our God cares about us deeply, every detail. He is unchanging and our Rock.

4. Do you have any stories of God answering prayer or breaking through in situations that you’d like to share?

So very many!! God provided for me to complete a Masters degree in Education while full-time teaching and living in Cambodia. I really struggled academically in school and so trust me, this was a miracle. God provided and not just financially. I got to experience live-classes in Germany over two summers and really learn that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

More recently, I’ve prayed for the chance to live closer to my family as I’ve been away since the age of 12 (due to boarding school, University, and work overseas), and He’s answered that with His humour….. as I currently live with them since moving here!

5. What are you thankful for?

For His perfect peace when things aren’t going my way….. I’m so glad He sees the bigger picture and holds the perfect plan.

Redeemer Stories: Phil & Sarah Varley

Phil and Sarah Varley
Nationality: British
Favourite food: Is it even possible to choose? The best we can do is give you a list a of favourites! An Indian curry, jerk chicken, rice and peas with a side of plantain and coleslaw, a lamb tagine or a roast with all the trimmings. Can you tell we love food?

1. Tell us a little about yourselves!

We have both lived all of our lives in the South Eastern part of the UK. The majority of that time has been in South-East London. We have been married for 25 years and have 4 amazing kids (who we love very much) and 1 dog (who us loves very much).

Our eldest 2 children are both at university in the UK and we miss them hugely. The youngest 2 and the dog are here in the Netherlands with us.

For the last 25 years Phil has been involved in leading and pastoring at Kings Church London and Sarah has done a variety of things including being a high school teacher, a full-time mum and working part-time for the church.

2. What brought you here to the Netherlands?

We knew God was moving us on from South East London and He spoke super clearly to us about coming to plant a church in Rotterdam. You can hear more of our story here:

 So we moved here in September 2021 to be obedient to what he had spoken.

3. What have you learned about God and who He is in this season?

So very much! He is so very kind, He pursues us with his goodness and kindness and he redeems and rebuilds things that have been broken

He knows our needs before we even say them and is so so good!

4. What are you thankful for?
We are thankful for all that we have learned about God in this season and that we get to be his friend. We are grateful for our families, for wonderful friends, for nature and for the kindness shown to us by so many since we have landed in the Netherlands.
5. How can we best pray for you and the Rotterdam church plant?
Well there are 4 things that come to mind:
  1. That God would continue to add people to the plant.
  2. That we would see people come to know Jesus.
  3. That we would make good connections with other churches in the city and find a great place to be able to meet.
  4. For our family and particularly our kids in this season of change.

Redeemer Stories: Simon

Simon Fritschij
Nationality: Dutch
Favourite animal: Duck

1. Tell us a little about yourself! 
My name is Simon! I’m 30 years old and have been a part of Redeemer for the past 4.5 years. I grew up in a Christian family close to Amsterdam and got baptized when I was 12. Fun thing most of you won’t know is that my baptism was on national television! I enjoy football, church life and the occasional jigsaw puzzle.

Another big passion of mine is politics. I work for the ChristenUnie (ChristianUnion), in national parliament and I am currently running for city council as number 2 of the ChristenUnie/SGP in The Hague.

2. What’s your favourite part about living in the Hague area?
The Hague is just a beautiful city. I love the beach, the streets and history. But also the official motto of The Hague: City of Justice and Peace. I find these to be such great values and hope we will see more of that in The Hague.

3. You work in politics and are a candidate in next week’s municipal elections. Can you share a little about how God has called to this area of work? What things are you passionate about doing in and for this city?
Ever since I was young I’ve felt a deep drive to seek justice. Whether it’s for refugees, people stuck in prostitution or children growing up in poverty: we are called to love, serve and seek justice. For me politics is a challenging but also effective way to act upon this calling. I want The Hague to be a city where people in vulnerable positions can flourish, where the work of churches is valued and where we take good care of creation for current and future generations.

4. What have you learned about God and who He is in this season?
In short I’ve just fallen more in love with Jesus. I’m so in awe of his life and death, mindblown about the fact that he fulfills every scripture and deeply moved by how he always seems to be able to reach out to the broken and lift them up. He truly was and is Immanuel.

5. Do you have any stories of God answering prayer or breaking through in situations that you’d like to share?
One cool story actually happened to me last Sunday. After a very busy week of campaigning I was really looking forward to have a day of rest on Sunday. But then my washing machine broke down. My entire bathroom floor was soaked as was my laundry.

So I asked one of my neighbors if I could use her machine. This got us into a talk about my campaign for the ChristenUnie and about Christianity in general. She shared how over the past year she had developed an interest in Christianity and that she would actually really like to come with me to church. So expect to welcome a new face in church somewhere the coming weeks. Praise God for my washing machine breaking down!

Redeemer Stories: Eason

Name: Eason
Nationality: Taiwanese
Favourite hobby: Football

1. Tell us a little about yourself!

I am a Taiwanese grew up in New Zealand and did my uni in the Netherlands. Now working and living in The Hague. Love socialising and would love to get stuck in with the church.

2. What’s your favourite part of The Hague?
Probably the Binnenhof area.
3. What have you learned about God and who He is in this season?

God is a god loves to bless us and has a plan that is so much better than what we  can ever imagine.

4. How has God answered prayer or broken through in a situation recently?

A prayer for an opportunity to reach out to a old friend (non-believer) was answered. Praise the Lord!

5. What are you thankful for?
All the blessings God has provided in my life in The Hague.

Redeemer Stories: Michael & Nelleke

Name: Michael & Nelleke Marcus
Nationality: Dutch
Favourite Bible book: Daniel

1. Tell us a little about yourselves!
Michael was born in Africa, came to the Netherlands 25 years ago and currently working as an Epidemiologist at a Japanese pharmaceutical company in Leiden.
Nelleke comes from a Dutch family. She has lived abroad for 10 years. She loves her job as a primary school teacher in The Hague.
We got married in 2002 and have 3 children; Naomi (18), Samuel (13) and Lydia (9).
2. What’s your favourite part about living in the The Hague area?
We live just outside of The Hague, in Nootdorp. Our favourite part of living in Nootdorp is the proximity to nature: Delftse hout, Balijbos, Bieslandse bos and Dobbeplas and also the proximity to amenities, the city of the Hague, Rijswijk and Delft.
3. What have you learned about God and who He is in this season?

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoke to us by His son (Hebrews 1:1-2a). This scripture from the book of Hebrews captures what I (Michael) have learned and I am still learning in this season about God i.e. God uses man as a conduit in encouraging His church. I am always passionate to see God speak to us even in mundane and tangible things. I am happy to see Redeemer creating an atmosphere that facilitates growing in the prophetic.

4. How has God answered prayer or broken through in a situation recently?
There are many testimonies about the faithfulness and the goodness of God but the one that strikes me the most is the healing power of God. Late last year Nelleke had this terrible itching. It was so bad that she decided to call the doctor for an appointment. I asked her if we could pray about it and we did before she went to bed. She woke up totally healed!

We have also seen God doing many miracles in the life of our youngest daughter Lydia. She is a living testimony of God’s power and faithfulness. We love to tell you more about what God has done in her life when we meet you face to face.

5. What are you thankful for?
I am thankful for being a member of Redeemer international church. We are thankful to hear what God is doing in the lives of the people around us. We love hearing testimonies!

Redeemer Stories: Laura Jansen

Name: Laura Jansen
Nationality: Dutch/British
Favourite Animal: Meerkat

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I started coming to Redeemer with my brother when I was sixteen. Six years down the line, and we’re still here and I am now part of the Youth Leadership Team (a great team, you should definitely join us). I enjoy listening to different types of rock music, but I also like to bounce around between genres. I like to spend my free time cooking/baking, learning French and watching Formula 1. I’d say that about sums me up 🙂

2. What’s your favourite part about living in the Hague area?

I actually live in Delft which, in my opinion, is the best place to live. But the great food scene in The Hague and the fact that you can find an Albert Heijn on almost every street corner makes it a good solid second.

3. What have you learned about God and who He is in this season?

 At the moment, I’m learning about getting the mind to learn more about God’s character in order for my heart to be able to love Him better. This being followed by the call to get into the Bible and study it more.

This all came to me a few weeks ago when I “randomly” picked up a book that I hadn’t touched since last summer, and my roommate “randomly” handed me another book and asked me to read it. And of course the church had just decided to do a series this year on being rooted in the Word. I love those God-timing moments.

4. Can you share a little about God answering prayer or breaking through in a situation?

Since I graduated in June 2020, God has been doing some very cool stuff in my life. After finishing my bachelor’s degree in Political Science, I had planned to take a gap year and do an internship and then start my master’s the following September. I got the internship – mainly thanks to the translation and youth work I had been doing for the church – which turned out to be an answer to prayer in so many ways.

Doing the internship meant I had to postpone my master’s and take a second gap year which I then decided to fill up with a job. Out of all the jobs/internships I applied for, the ones I thought I had a good shot at all turned me down. But the one job which I didn’t think I was qualified enough for, but really wanted, God decided to let me have it.

5. What are you thankful for?

For a God who messes up my plans in the most beautiful way.

And for Indian food.

Redeemer Stories: Pieter Jan Boot

(Kicking off our Bible in One Year Reading Plan)

Name: Pieter Jan Boot
Nationality: Dutch
Favourite Bible Book: The Gospel of John

1. Tell us a little about yourself
First the basics: I am 36 years young, happily married to Elsbeth and the father of 2 beautiful boys. I love nature, poetry, art, people.

Now the specifics: I was born and raised on one of the islands under Rotterdam in a Christian environment, surrounded by the beauty of nature.  This had laid in me from a young age a steady awareness that God existed and that seeking Him is a wonderful thing to do. In my teenage years I had some wandering moments. But because of the presence of dedicated Christian friends and youth leaders, this actually helped me to make a decision to earnestly seek God. 

I do remember the hunger for more and this led to intentionally reading the Bible with the desire to experience God for myself. During this journey God clearly revealed Himself and His grace in moments when I engaged with the Bible (esp. the Gospel of John).

This led to dedicating my life to Him and was the start of my walk with Jesus as a personal follower of Him. It is exciting to see how over the years God leads you from one aspect of knowing Him into the next aspect. From knowing His forgiveness to knowing Him as a loving Father. From knowing the power of His Spirit unto getting filled with the Spirit. From knowing the grace of God to be accepted unto knowing His grace to be transformed. From knowing His authority to standing in the authority He has given us.

Fast forward 15 years later, I am still thrilled about the ongoing journey of knowing Him more and more and being transformed more and more towards his image.

2. What kind of Bible reader are you?
I am both a passionate – and at the same time a very easily distracted reader.  As I read I am always listening to what God highlights in the text and as soon as that happens I always underline those sentences. Often I draw little symbols or drawings besides it, when it comes to themes that occur a lot or speak to my heart.  

At the same time I always have an A6 paper and a pen next to me, to write down what I feel the Spirit is highlighting. Sometimes it is a phrase of Scripture. Sometimes a prayer that wells up. Sometimes a theme that God puts on my heart. Sometimes it is a creative way of engaging with it in the form of a pen drawing. Often these papers surround me when I am at work and in that way during the day the Words that God has opened are still somewhere visible to read.

3. What’s the most helpful tip/tool you’ve learned in setting Bible-reading habits?

Dedicating a proper amount of time, simply to reading and prayer on a set moment of your daily schedule and sticking to this has been super helpful for me.  A couple of years ago as a staff team we made the decision to dedicate every first hour of the day to being in the Word and prayer. Since than  I have simply scheduled the first hour of every day to have time with the Father. It is my time to ‘just be’ with God and this is so helpful.

I would love to recommend everyone who struggles with the habit of setting time apart with God to simply commit to a set proper time (enough to help you to really engage) each day for a period of time just to be with the Father.

Other tips: sometimes you can be ‘tired’ of reading. Especially when you read through the Bible in one year, there might be some moments that you are tired of reading.  Allow grace moments to be in your times with God, worship Him through worship, meditate on one simple verse, go out of the house and go for a walk,  read a book that stirs your affection and faith.  There are moments that I allow myself to simply not read – to re-engage after that with a refreshed hunger.

When you are out of the habit of reading, the joy of reading can also be activated by reading something simple as a cartoon or as a funny book (like a novel from your childhood) just for a couple of hours.  Reading is an active activity and in our culture with everything on screens sometimes I need to get back into the rhythm of reading. When you have been busy reading ‘serious’ stuff, it can be really refreshing to read something light, that you really allow your mind to have some holiday. I found that after that I reengage with more passion and brightness.  Personally this kicks me into the habit of enjoying reading once I have been out.

One simple tip: when you start reading the Bible, read like you eat fish. Eat the meat, and not the bones.

4. What do you do when you want to understand a Bible passage better?

I always try to take time first to fix my eyes on Jesus, to come in a place of rest.  I welcome the Spirit, have a moment of surrendering myself to God. That makes me ready to receive.
After that I read the text. When I want to gain more understanding I read and read it again.  Often (esp. when I engage with a smaller text unit, like a psalm) I write parts out. It helps me to see the themes that occur, to really see what is in there.
If something is unclear to me, I look for different translations, read that one verse in 4 or 5 translations.  This often gives you a good taste of what it says in the original language. For very quick help I often turn to the Study Bible (ESV Study Bible) or to more specific commentaries.

If something is unclear and I just want to know how this can be applied,  I usually go to a gifted Bible teacher I know I can trust (in my case this has been for more than a decade, John Piper). I benefit from his skills and just check out the passage and see if he has said something worth reading/listening to around the text. 

5. How do you choose a Bible?
Personally I am reading from a NIV translation with a big size (A5). I want my times of reading to be intentional, so I always read from a physical copy. I buy a new work Bible every year to receive the Word afresh and to be surprised and not overlook things because I am drawn to my underlining or comments.

When I study, I often open at least 4 translations. The NIV is a translation that is focused on the English language and how the original phrase is best understood in our language. Sometimes that means that the way how it is worded, is a bit further from the original expression.
To get a grip on the original text I then read the ESV (who is more focused in translating the Bible in such a way that you can see how it was written in the original language).
Besides that I use an interlinear Bible, that has the Hebrew and Greek text and the direct translation of words under it.
I also use some translations from different traditions (like the Dutch HSV (the equivalent of the NKJ) and the Willibrordvertaling (the Dutch catholic translation).

I found it helpful to have one predominant translation for personal usage over the years, so that I start remembering the exact wording and I can memorise verses. For me this translation must be easy readable and at the same time close to the original text. After all, you want the Bible to give instruction for our daily lives – so it helps me to use a translation that
comes with an ease in the use of language.

Want to start the Bible in One Year reading plan that we’re following at Redeemer in 2022?

Redeemer Stories: Joseph and Racheal
(Our new Redeemer elder)

  1. Tell us a bit about yourselves. 
  • We are the Kiggundu’s originally from Uganda (which is also referred to as the Pearl of Africa. We wonder if anyone can dispute that). A very beautiful country with lots of nature. You need to visit Uganda. 
  • We’ve been married 11 years and have lived in the Netherlands for different periods of time i.e. for Racheal close to 5 years, for Joseph close to 4 years. We both love and are passionate about God.
  • We also love to have a good laugh at anything that’s funny – it’s such a stress relief.
  • Joseph is a lawyer by profession and Racheal an IT professional.
  • Joseph loves to cook and on a good day, can make you a nice meal depending on the mood.
  • Racheal loves to dance not forgetting something very important, she loves her sleep too. Any opportunity to laydown and have a good rest is always welcome. Also she is on a journey of discovering new hobbies.
  1. How do you know that God has called you to be an elder in Redeemer?

Before we left Uganda, God spoke clearly through a prophetic friend that he was specifically bringing me for church and not my legal career. I had no idea what that looked like seeing as I was coming from a very different context. But these years in Redeemer have been filled with God building community and family around us and in so doing, different people including the leadership have spoken into our lives. It’s been a journey for us, for myself laying career down as God spoke and for Racheal, realising she got married to a lawyer but he is now taking a different path. We do believe though that it is the road God would have us trek and we feel peace and lots of warmth and support from the wonderful church community.

  1. What has God put in your heart that you would love to see in us as a church?

God has put a couple of things in our hearts but two that we are passionate about are: the Bible becoming alive in our lives and the supernatural as a result of the Spirit of God having total leeway in ordinary peoples’ lives and empowering them for mission in their daily circles. Racheal also is passionate about families and about young girls walking in purity. 

Redeemer Stories: Meet Melvin and Sharmila

Name: Melvin George / Sharmila Rebekah
Nationality: Indian
Favourite Food: we like to try different cuisines

  1. What does your day-to-day look like, particularly during the past year since the COVID pandemic?
    I work 5 days a week, starting my day in the presence of God, then I boost my fresh start of the day with a cup of hot coffee and a healthy breakfast.
    Later I start my work at home during the pandemic at 9 am. My work continues till evening 6 pm leaving some in between intervals.
    In the weekend, I make some extra time for my family and some more rest and sleep. We go out for a walk and enjoy a drive and shopping’s.
    We talk with family back in India. We share the love of God and His guidance. We pray for everyone who suffering financially and we are able to meet their needs on time.
  1. What have you learned about God and who He is in this season?
    God is everything for us: provider, care-taker, comforter, guide… I can keep listing on.
    The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold : Ps: 18:2
    According to the above verse, we learned to trust more in Him.God is everything for us: provider, care-taker, comforter, guide… I can keep listing on.
    The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold : Ps: 18:2
    According to the above verse, we learned to trust more in Him.
  1. How has it been for you to connect with others (friends, family) during this time of distancing?
    Thanks to the online platform which kept us in contact with family and friends, we were able to serve God through online meetings with ministries of God across the world.
  1. Do you have any stories of God answering prayer or breaking through in situations that you’d like to share?
    In spite of difficult situations and a changeling path, God has been a faithful being on our side. In this year 2021 March, we experienced a tragic situation that I lost my father.
    The news shocked everyone in our family. But God comforted us in a special way and healed the broken heart.
  1. What are you thankful for?
    We are thankful for the blessed life, good job, family, and friends. God’s protection during this pandemic.