Redeemer Refugee Response

Hello Redeemer!
Here are some details we have about ways we can respond as a church to the present refugee crisis.
The situation:
Through conflict, poverty and political turmoil in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of the Balkans, Europe is seeing its biggest migrant crisis since the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have arrived, and are arriving, in Europe. Some of these refugees are coming to The Hague. At present there are about 1500 refugees who have arrived or will shortly be arriving in the city.
Throughout the Bible we see clearly God’s heart for those who are vulnerable and in need. As Christians in The Hague we have an incredible opportunity to show the love and care of Jesus in how we welcome ‘strangers’ and respond more generally to refugees in our city.
What can we do?
There are three main areas that we can act upon in response to the situation.

1. Pray. 

God hears us when we cry out to him. All of us can make a difference in bringing the situation before God in prayer.

2. Get involved.

There are a number of great initiatives already happening and below are some links where you can find out more, or sign up to volunteer in some capacity:

  • Volunteer for the Red Cross ‘Welcome Store’ in The Hague (infodenhaag@redcross.nl)
  • Participate in other local projects (haagsehout@denhaag.nl)
  • Send a ‘Welcome / Encouragement postcard’ (vluchtelingenwerk.nl)
  • Participate in national initiatives (ikwilietsdoenvooreenvluchteling.nl)
  • Volunteer to be involved in activities with children 12-18 years who are in The Hague (info@notenbuurt.nl)
  • We are setting up a ‘Host Families’ initiative with Stichting Present, where refugees can come and spend an evening or part of a day with a local family / few friends where they can feel welcomed and cared for. We will talk about this more as soon as things are organised but if you are keen to help with setting it up please contact Gerlinde

3. Give financially.

There are many great charities and organisations that you can support financially. As a church we are going to give 3000 Euros each to the following organisations:
 – (Locally) Vluchtelingenwerk
We will make the transfer at the end of November so if you want to give additionally to either of these organisations through the church you are welcome to. Please give your transfers the following references ‘Refugees local’ or ‘Refugees international’ and we will make sure it gets added to the amounts we have already set aside as a church.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Kind Regards,

Gerlinde & Joshua de Jong

A Note on Fasting

John Calvin (a great man of God who lived 500 years ago) said that fasting has at least three primary objectives:
1.    To learn to control demands of the flesh (what we ‘naturally’ want)
2.    To prepare ourselves to hear from the Lord
3.    To recognize and manifest our dependence upon Him

It is a great opportunity as we start the new year to give ourselves to prayer and fasting. It is an expression of our trust in God, and commitment to put him first in all things.

Jesus showed us an example in his own fasting (Matt 4:1-11). He also expects it of us (Matt 6:16-17). Through the Bible we see examples of the people of God fasting (e.g. Nehemiah 9:1, Esther 4:16). In the book of Acts, we see fasting in Churches at a time of important leadership decision making (Acts 13:2), and at a time of appointing elders (Acts 14:23). In all cases, fasting assumes prayer is happening at the same time (otherwise it would simply be a hunger strike!).

Fasting is generally referred to as going without food for a period of time. It can also include going without anything that (given too much focus) can dull our hunger for God. Even good things can subconsciously numb our focus and passion for Jesus if we place too much priority on them. Fasting can, therefore, include going without things like: technology, internet, TV, caffeine, work, even sex with one’s spouse (see 1 Corinthians 7:5)! Maybe even for the first time, why don’t you take the challenge this week of fasting while you pray!

If you have kids, it is a great time to include them in times of prayer. Share your vision for prayer with them!

Some general comments on fasting food:
•    Don’t fast food if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a health condition where it is not medically recommended
•    Stay hydrated
•    Expect lower energy levels
•    Guard against pride
•    Avoid legalism. Fasting does not earn you God’s favor or force Him to answer or act.
•    Use the time you would have spent consuming food (or whatever else you are fasting from)
with focusing on God in prayer and worship
•    Persevere in the pain. It is supposed to be uncomfortable. Comfort is one of those good things that can become a bad thing!

Redeemer: may we fast and pray in faith, and joy, and perseverance these next few days!

God Bless you!

Money Matters!

Broadly speaking the Bible talks about giving financially into two things; giving to God (primarily seen in giving money to your church) and giving financially to help those in need.

This past Sunday Chris gave 5 key values about financial giving in Redeemer. Here is an overview of what he said:

As with everything else, we want to have a view of giving money that is completely rooted in Scripture. Therefore, these key values are not unique to Redeemer; they would apply to every church that seeks to have a Biblical practice in terms of giving money to the church.

Value 1: God provides for Redeemer.
Ultimately, it is God who provides for our needs as a church; it is not people. God will always provide for what he calls us to do. This is such an important value. If we did not have this value in place it would be so easy to move towards a focus and pressure on people to supply our needs. Yes, of course – God does use the regular giving of people as a vital means to provide for the needs of the church… BUT, God is still the source of provision.

[This same principle applies to us as individuals – God may use a salary, Government help, or another type of allowance to provide for us but it is still him that provides. If for whatever reason a job comes to an end or circumstances change for us, we can rest in the assurance that God will still provide for us even if his means of doing it changes!]

Value 2: You don’t have to give any money to be welcome in Redeemer.
People are valued in Redeemer not according to what they give or don’t give. Everyone is valued in Redeemer because God loves and values them. If people are Christians and consider Redeemer as their ‘home church’ we would love them to give because we want them to obey Jesus and grow as a follower of him. But, Christian or enquirer, Redeemer member or just a visitor, all are valued regardless of whether they give anything or not.

Value 3: Giving reflects our worship to God.
We either worship money (and what we think money can bring us), or we worship God with our money. How we handle the money that God entrusts us with is a direct reflection of our worship of God. Do we love God? Do we trust him with our lives’? Is he of first importance in our hearts? If the answer to these questions is yes, then our financial giving should reflect these truths.

Value 4: As Christians we have the privilege of giving.
Financial giving to the church is not a tax on being a Christian! It is not a necessary evil in the midst all the good things that God gives us. Quite the opposite is true. Paul writes to the Corinthian church and encourages them to ‘excel in the grace of giving’ (2 Cor. 8:7). As Christians we do not have to give money, we get to give money. It is a vital part of us growing as Christians that we learn to give as God calls us to. As we learn to excel in the grace of giving we learn so much more about ourselves and God. We learn to trust God more and depend on his provision in our lives.

Value 5: How much you give is up to you.
There are no rules in the New Testament about how much we should give. In the Old Testament, the people of God would give (among other special offerings and gifts) a ‘tithe’ which represented 10% of their income.

The New Testament gives no rules about financial giving to the Church. It does, however, give some very clear principles including:

  1. Give regularly (eg. 1 Cor 16:2).
  2. Give joyfully (eg. 2 Cor 9:7).
  3. Give sacrificially (eg. 2 cor 9:6-12).

With everything taken into consideration, ‘tithing’, remains a great principle, and a very good place to start from in terms of choosing how much to give.

Introducing: Denise van Dorp

Hi everyone, I’m Denise and I’ve just come on board to help oversee kids work at Redeemer International Church.

I’d like to start by saying that I love Redeemer because it reflects the things I value most. It is a group of people who love God, love each other and have gathered from all over the world.

I was born in a tiny little village in central Thailand and have ended up living in The Hague. I grew up speaking Thai, English and Dutch, having elephants pop round the front yard for a banana snack, and preferring to be barefoot than to be constricted by shoes.
Now, I still speak Dutch, English and Thai (albeit less Thai than before), the most exotic animal that pops by is a fruit fly, and I have sensibly learned to wear any shoes that will keep my toes warm in the chilly Dutch weather.

I’ve been helping with kids work at Redeemer for about 5 years and it has been incredible to see the number of children grow from around 10 to over 100. It is amazing to work with kids and see them grow in their understanding of who God is. There is something so joyful and uninhibited about the way children ask questions about who God is and how their prayers are small and yet full of faith. And of course, nothing beats the fun and games that children enjoy together.

As part of the Redeemer staff, I will be overseeing the various teams that run kids work for children ages 0-12. This includes anything from supporting the team leaders to helping provide training and tooling, as we look to what God has planned for kids work at Redeemer in the coming seasons. In September, the children who have outgrown their age group will be heading into the next groups, our rather large toddler’s group will be splitting into two groups, and we are pleased to have new team members and leaders joining our kids teams.

With any of the next steps we take, we would love your help. Pray for the children and kids teams in our church, and if you are interested in joining a team, let us know!
I am looking forward to the day when children not only love taking part in their kids programs but also actively participate in the Sunday services, representing God’s family in full.

Newday 2015

If there’s a place where is a lot of laughter, where God is worshipped, where at least one water fight a day must be done, where there is given an incredible amount of money (£91.000 = €128.000 with 8.000 teenagers!), where waking up at half past 5 to get a shower seems to be normal, where talking to strangers is no problem and where loads of teens get to know Jesus…it is definitely NEW DAY!

Sunday morning the 2nd of august we loaded the van and headed to Hoek van Holland to get on the boat to the UK. After a long time on the boat and enjoying a sing-a-long-playlist with 6 teens singing (read: shouting) in the van for 2 hours, we arrived at Norwich, where for a whole week, Newday would be held.

Newday is a major youth camping event that takes place every summer for six days. In the mornings and evenings we had services with worship, teachings and seminars. In the afternoons we had time to relax and there where lots of sport games, boys and girls activities and concerts. We where teaming up with New Community Church from Sidcup which was great. To be in a group of about 50 teens was a great experience for all of us and gave us a longing for a youth group as big as that in The Hague.

For me personally it was encouraging to see that the teens where so enthusiastic about God and seeing them grow during the week. We also had the possibility to spend time with the teens personally, talking about life and God. Discipleship is one of the things I really like about being a teen leader and which is really important for them. Just to have someone, beside your mom or dad, who you can talk to about your relationship with God and the people around you, to pray with, to have a laugh or cry or just to see how they manage they’re life. This is also what Jesus did with His disciples.

It says in Timothy 2:2:”And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

To be used by God for this I think is one of the greatest privileges, especially with teenagers! Teens are full of life and dreams for the future and in that age decisions are made, which influences the rest of their life. To help them sort out tough questions, show them Jesus, help them in making decisions, and just be there for them, has always had my heart. That’s why I will start working for Redeemer from the 1st of September.

Interview with Pieter-Jan

Today we are interviewing Pieter-Jan who just came to be part of the staff of Redeemer to get to know him a little bit better!

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, I am Pieter-Jan!

I am excited to introduce myself in this blog.

For the last two years I have been part of Redeemer, first as a visitor, the last year doing a part-time leadership intern and now since the 1st of July I am working on staff full time!

Tell us something interesting about yourself!

Some personal interesting and less interesting details about me are

  • that I just turned 30.
  • that I am time after time amazed by the beauty there is in nature.
  • that I still make movies in the plane even though I go on a plane once a month.
  • that I am madly in love with a certain woman…
  • that I think that it is so amazing to be part of such a group of diverse people we find in the church and that we actually are a family!
  • that I love to see how God works in the local church to equip us to walk closer with Him by giving us His Word and Spirit.
  • that I am exited how He uses us to invite and reach out to others who don’t know Him yet.

So what will you actually be doing?

As part of Redeemer’s Staff-team, my focus will primarily be in two areas.

The first one is overseeing pastoral care.

As part of the team I would love to help us as a church in taking good care for one another. It is fascinating that Jesus compares himself to a good Shepherd and everyone who wants to follow Him is compared to a sheep of his flock. And while we might not like the idea of being compared with a bunch of wooly sheep, I think everyone of us somehow loves the idea of being deeply known. Just like the shepherd knows every sheep, so are we as individuals fully known by God, He has shown us his love and mercy.  With His example we can start to shepherd one another in getting to know and taking good care of each other.

The second focus will be in overseeing different training-tracks.  A part of this is preparing two excellent courses, which we will start in September.

The first course coming up is the Freedom in Christ course. This is the first time this 10-weeks discipleships course is running in Redeemer!

It is designed to help us to take hold of the truth about our identity in Christ.  Jesus came to set us free from a life of fear and bondage and wants to give us life in fullness. So if you experience that something is holding you back from living a life out of the freedom we have in Christ, this course might be something for you to consider! It helps us to resolve personal and spiritual conflicts, to be set free from fear, anxiety and bondage of the past and step into a life of wholeness, assurance and purpose!

The second excited thing is the start with a new Alpha Course in September!

The Alpha Course is designed for anyone who is curious what Christianity really is about and who wants to debate and explore the foundations of the Christian faith in a honest and informal environment. Maybe this is for you if you are not a Christian yet, or when you just turned to become a Christian, but really want to learn more about the basics of the Christian faith. If you have friends, family or neighbors who you would love to introduce them to the Christian faith, this might be an excellent opportunity to invite them to.

What are your hopes and dreams for Redeemer in the next season?

My desire is that we as a church will fully step out in all that God has for us and I really look forward to what God is going to do in Redeemer in the next season.

What is Next?

Over the last weeks we have spoken about being a gospel-centred and multiplying church. In the years ahead we believe that it is God’s plan to multiply what is happening in Redeemer into other parts of The Hague, the surrounding cities and further afield. With that in mind, it might have come as a surprise that we think it is right to stop the evening meeting as we know it.

Why would we do that? First, we need to emphasise that we have not stopped the evening meeting because it was not good. We love what God has brought us during our evening meetings: new people, healings, baptisms, and freedom as well as intimacy in worship. It truly has been brilliant and we are thankful to God and those of you who have been part of the meetings. We could, however, not help but notice that building community and growing serving teams has not been easy.

At first we thought that some quick readjustments from a small team would be the way forward. Over the last months, however, some wise and inspiring church leaders have visited and one of them advised us “to multiply out of abundance and strength.” This advice stayed with us and helped shape our plan to regroup by bringing the relatively small evening community back into the morning crowd. From there, as one church community, in abundance and strength, we now get to ask God together: what is next?

In short, whether Redeemer’s next multiplication is into Delft, Rotterdam, Brussels or an evening service 2.0 in the city centre of The Hague, is still open. We don’t know, but let’s seek God! Prayer will be important especially in this multiplication season: we will be creating more opportunities for us a church to pray together. Stay tuned for dates and times!

The summer period is upon us and this means that life in Redeemer will slow down as many people take some time out to be with family, friends or travel the world. Life Groups will also have their breaks from half July to end of August. A great way to stay connected is to keep an eye on Redeemer’s new website and Facebook-page which will show you the summery events and parties organised by other Redeemerites. Let’s invite one another for as many drinks, barbecues, beach trips we can squeeze into one summer and keep an eye out for new faces visiting our great church!

Parting Shots

I am only ‘parting’ for a 3 month sabbatical, and I don’t intend to shoot anyone; but I like the title anyway.

This is the first time that I have taken a sabbatical and I must say that I am pretty excited! It is an amazing opportunity to take extra time to enjoy God, family and friends. I cannot wait for the amazing new season for Redeemer, and feel that this time out is a vital part of God working in me (and in Redeemer) as he prepares us for the future.

You may be wondering what I/we will actually be doing for the sabbatical. Six weeks of the break will be during the school holidays of our kids. During this time we will have a family holiday in Guernsey, and Karin and I will have a few days in Cape Town together. We have some family visiting us from Botswana, and we will be going to Ashburnham as a family.

For the remaining weeks of the sabbatical I will be spending extended time praying, reading, thinking, and generally enjoying time with God, Karin and friends. Karin and I will also take some extra time to build on our marriage, pray together, and work on family relationships.

As I look ahead to an extended time out of the life of Redeemer, there are some things that I would love to say to you, the community of Redeemer International Church:

1. I love you! I count it such a privilege to be a part of this community of people. You mean so much to me and I love seeing God’s love taking root in your lives’.

2. I am very grateful for you. I am so humbled by the sacrifice, hard work, generosity, commitment, trust, honesty, example, and grace of so many of you. I am also very grateful for the amazing men and women who I get to work with in a leadership capacity. I am confident in the God’s hand on the team that leads Redeemer to continue to lead well even with me not around for this period.

3. I will be praying for you. I know a number of the individual challenges that some of you face and will be praying for those, but I will also be praying for God to continue to grow and shape us as a body made up of many different parts.

4. Can I encourage you to put God first over summer time (and every other time!). You and Redeemer will be blessed as you seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matt 6:33). What does this look like? Love God, love people, and be courageous as you seek to follow God in his will for your life, and for us as a Church.

5. Lastly, please arrive at church on time!

Much love!
Chris

What are the implications on our finances for pursuing what we believe God has called us to?

God has been so good to us in terms of financial provision and answered prayer. Currently we are more or less meeting our monthly budget of 30 000 Euros. We have just over 2 months of ‘reserve’ in the bank.

As we look forward to increased costs (particularly in monthly staff costs but also in necessary equipment purchase, venue hire, etc.) we are looking at a monthly budget of about 40 000 Euros by the beginning of 2016.

Fundamentally we trust God to provide all our needs. He has been faithful in the past, and he will be faithful in the future.

To cover the deficit between what we are currently getting and what we need until monthly giving increases to cover outgoing, we need to:

  • Pray like crazy! Praying not only works(!) but it also does something in our own hearts, helping to underline that it is God and not people who ultimately provides for Redeemer.
  • As leaders, faithfully lead people into a healthy vision for giving regularly, sacrificially, and joyfully into the local church.

On the 7th of June we celebrated 5 years of being a church and we had a Gift Day giving into the next season. So far  approx. 38 000 Euros has been given which is amazing!

What is the Gift Day money going to be used for?

85% of the money that comes in will be focused on helping us build capacity to fulfil what God has called us to in this next season.

Practically, we see the money being used for the following things:

  • Extra costs from new staff and interns.
  • Extra costs for new sound and visual equipment (so that the people who are sitting ‘behind’ the Perspex ‘curtains’ can see and hear properly).
  • Extra costs on venue hire for church events that no longer fit into our office (larger prayer meetings, leaders meetings, special events, etc.).

Of the 15% that we are giving away, we are giving money into the following things:

  • 50% set aside for blessing The Hague
    • Half of this we have allocated to give to Stichting de Haven. In September we plan to do a specific outreach with them to the women working in the red light district of which you will here more closer to that date
    • The other half we have decided to give to the Stichting Straatpastoraat. This is a great organisation that provides care both physical and emotional to the poor and needy in the Hague.
  • 50% to support some amazing work coming out of a family of churches we are connected to in Zimbabwe led by Scott Marques. Scott has sent a video message about the gift (see below).

What are the implications on the Redeemer Staff Team of pursuing our vision?

As leaders in Redeemer we want to make sure that not only do we have clarity about the direction we are going, but we want to make sure that we see the right people in the right place, doing the right thing in terms of our Staff Team. Some of our staff positions are paid positions and some are staffed by volunteers or interns.

Our staff team serves two main functions:

  1. Help Redeemer run as smooth as possible so that we can fulfill the mission that God has called us to. We do not have a staff team so that they can do everything, but rather that they can do the right things to release many other volunteers in the life of the church.
  2. Create a Staff Team context that is the best possible place to help people grow into all that God has called them to be. We are convinced that God has called us to be a church where people come in and are well trained up with us as they spend time serving on Staff, whether in paid or unpaid positions. (We are in contact with a family who may well relocate to The Hague in the beginning of 2016 where would join the Staff Team with the aim of learning and growing in order to prepare for church planting at some stage).

Although interns are not paid a salary, they are paid a small allowance, and we invest in their training through attending the New Ground Academy, and some New Ground events in and out of the Netherlands.

As we have looked forward into the future that God has called us to, we have been looking at key areas that we need to invest in immediately. We have identified pastoral care, kids, youth and administration as key areas where we need to grow our leadership capacity.

Over the last few weeks we have had a number of very encouraging conversations with some great people and we are so pleased to make the following announcements about people who will either be joining us partially, or fully on staff:

Denise van Dorp

Overseeing kids work in Redeemer as an intern (next to her job) as we invest in her doing the New Ground Academy.

Pieter-Jan Boot

Full time staff member overseeing pastoral care, and picking up a number of other key leadership responsibilities in the church

Rhode Meijers

Intern working with youth work as we invest in her doing the New Ground Academy.