Name: Franz Tapia Chaca
Nationality: Born in Peru, naturalised as Dutch in Sint Maarten
Favourite hobby: Getting to know and spending time with church family. Second favourite: studying the Bible with church family. Third favourite: cooking new dishes (for others) 😉
- What does your day-to-day look like, particularly during the past year since the COVID pandemic?
My current day-to-day is taking each day as it comes, striving to be faithful in all things!
I began a job at a warehouse in October. I work here 4 days a week. Specifically, we receive the Albert Heijn shop returns, i.e. paper, plastic, and beer bottle recycling, as well as food waste and lots of unique things used in the AH shops. Depending on the item, we work with machines to stack or clean them accordingly. I’ve gotten used to the manual nature by now, but still very few days I can go to sleep sore! Interesting estimate: each day, 30-60 years worth of daily food (nutritional value) for one person is thrown away at this one centre. Crazy!
When I’m not working, I’m filling out applications for further study or another job. I’ve mostly focused on MSc applications to study Bioinformatics and Systems Biology. Since protein folding structures were predicted with amazing accuracy simply from their amino acid sequences last November, I’ve been fascinated by the potential of artificial intelligence in solving problems using the big data in biology. I have a Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering. I want to use my God-given talents to serve others, and in this new technology I see a growing opportunity to really change people’s lives with respect to their healthcare! So it would be a pleasure to study this through an MSc, or work further in biomedical research again! Each day I strive to lift my eyes to God in trust for my next step, and I’m learning to trust him more.
Besides these things, I cook, meet and read the Bible with my beloved life group (Students & Young Adults <3), and I’ve been learning to play the guitar just a bit! On Friday lunchtimes, I join the Student Life Mission Possible evangelism group, and we mainly meet outside De Haagse Hogeschool. On Saturdays, I co-lead a Bible study group of three through Romans. We’re now on chapter 11! On Sundays, I get to join the evening prayer meeting – prayer with church family has lifted my soul many times!
About a year ago, I was coming to the end of a 1-year ministry traineeship at Christ Church Mayfair in London. I began following Jesus there four years ago (30 April 2017)! I ended my internship last August. I then moved to the Netherlands in September to grow closer to my two brothers. With the pandemic, we also had to adjust to ministry in distancing and online! Back then, my day-to-day involved weekly bible studies, organising zoom logistics, attending staff meetings and going to Cornhill Bible college one day a week. Cornhill was the weekly highlight (besides in-person Sunday services…)!
- What have you learned about God and who He is in this season?
– Colossians 3:23-24: My job has many times felt totally insignificant! But according to God, it isn’t. I have learned to view it in perspective of things above (3:2). God has been teaching me that I ultimately work for him, and that I am to do it with all my heart! So I can rejoice that God promises me an eternal reward for my wholehearted faithfulness at my job. Since starting to recall these verses, I have put better effort, and I’m thankful to have consequently received the respect of my colleagues and supervisors and their appreciation of my work!
– 1 Chronicles 16:27: I was recently reminded that in Christ, I have complete, uninterrupted access to joy. Joy is found in the presence of the God, and he is ever with us in each of his persons (Is. 41:10, Mat. 28:20, 1 Cor. 6:19). So, I wish to keep coming back to him at every moment!
– 1 Timothy 1:15: I have learned more of the grace of God. Many times I feel like David (Ps. 51:3), when I am reminded of all my sin. But I have learned to remind myself each day of God’s sweet grace like Paul did. In his letters, Paul expresses his undeserving of every blessing he has in Christ, because he persecuted God’s church (1 Cor. 15:9, 1 Tim. 1:13). But he continually dwelt upon the grace of God, and this grace strengthened him to work harder than the apostles around him (1 Cor. 15:10) and to struggle, even through imprisonment, for the sake of the church (Col 1:29).
- How has it been for you to connect with others (friends, family) during this time of distancing?
Family: I’m staying at my older brother’s place. Before September, we hadn’t lived together for 5 years, besides the occasional visit home while I was studying in London. It was very nice to celebrate Christmas 2020 together with him and my little brother with lots of food. I was in charge of catering 🙂 We also have occasionally watched movies together. I’m thankful for all the time we’ve gotten to spend so far, because our relationship has developed a lot since I first arrived. He’s recently returned from Sint Maarten after 2 months. I gave his place a thorough clean, and he appreciated it! My little brother lives in Tilburg. I don’t get to see him much, but once I spent a few days at his place. It was fun! In February, I got a chance to visit my family in Sint Maarten after 1.5 years – they threw me a birthday party with lots of foooooood. It was also nice to go out with them for dinner from time to time. See my collage for pictures 🙂
Friends: I’ve been fortunate to have made lots of new friends since moving to the Netherlands! I didn’t know anyone well except for one person at first (Ronald), but I was warmly welcomed to Redeemer and my life group. Since joining the Students & Young Adults life group, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with them mostly every week, for which I have been very thankful. I’ve also gotten to know and meet other Redeemer members during the week or online! See my collage for highlights with Redeemer members this past year! 🙂
Colleagues: I have gotten to develop beautiful friendships with some colleagues over tram rides, lunch breaks and complements/encouragements. I’m very thankful for the Christian brothers I have here, whose presence has encouraged me. Also, I’m thankful that I get along very well with one Christian brother, and that I get to talk with him about spiritual matters on train rides, such as marriage. He’s preparing to propose to his girlfriend!
- Do you have any stories of God answering prayer or breaking through in situations that you’d like to share?
Since Feb 2020, while I was in London, I have been reading the Bible (first John’s Gospel, now Romans) with Lucian. He is now in Romania. My co-leader, Brian, is in Hong Kong. We believe that Lucian has come to put his faith in Jesus! It’s been our prayer since we began reading the Bible with him, and God has been gracious. Now, he’s displaying submission to God’s word (Rom. 8:7), and he prays with a childlikeness and humility that refreshes and lifts up my soul every time! We now wish to help him settle at a church to be fed more locally, and for him to exercise his God-given gifts for the upbuilding of the church.
On a different note, God’s grace has kept me persevering in him. In December, I watched a scientific documentary that completely shocked the foundations of my faith. I felt that I could no longer believe in God, that I could do whatever I wanted, and that I could no longer trust anyone in the church. I was beginning to think about walking out from all the relationships I have developed over the past four years. I questioned the foundations of everything, including the purpose of continuing to live. Fortunately for me, I had strong feelings and anxieties that I couldn’t shake. I was trying to come back to Jesus. In desperation to find comfort in a Bible verse, my eyes fell upon Jesus’ words to Thomas instead: “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). I kept doubting, however. Each day, I was trying hard to hold on to Jesus’ words “I am the way, the truth and the life”. One day, as I was struggling inside and working, I finally decided to message, and not avoid, a very close friend in whom I fully trust. About a year ago, I was being discipled one-to-one by him, and we became very close. Somehow afterwards I remembered an objective event that God worked through his life. Together with all the science I had been presented with, I had to take into consideration this individual, objective event. This gave me the footing to cry out to God to help me believe in him again, and he helped me. Just over an hour after sending the message, I was fine and confident that God lives, because he is active according to his will in people’s lives.
- What are you thankful for?
I am most thankful for God’s grace. I am also thankful for my work, which has allowed me to remain in the Netherlands when it looked like I couldn’t, and to build relationships at Redeemer. I am thankful that my family relationships are growing.