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February

Oud en Nieuw

Greetings in the love of Christ!

It’s hard to believe we are in the middle of the second month of 2009 ALREADY! Wow, how time flies! In this update I would like to share what we are giving God thanks for in 2008 (the “Oud” or old) as well as take a look ahead to what 2009 holds for ministry here in Amsterdam (the “Nieuw” or new).

Some of the Zolder50 highlights of 2008:

We celebrated the 5-year anniversary of our church, Zolder50. (If you are interested, you could watch a picture slideshow from our anniversary weekend celebration on Pastor Eric’s website).

We multiplied into two church communities at the end of 2007.  In 2008, each community grew and established itself.  The transition has been smooth and encouraging, and it accomplished what we hoped for — deeper relationships and room for growth in each of the church communities as well as more focus on home groups, life groups and outreach.

We had more Europeans step-up as Home Group Leaders and members of our Servant-Leadership Council, which is the decision-making team that supports our pastors in leading the church. There are now 9 Home Groups in Zolder50, consisting of small groups of people (8-18) who meet together during the week for bible study, worship and community, 4 of which are Dutch led and Dutch spoken.

The church grew in enthusiasm and ability to share our faith in Christ with our friends and neighbors.  We celebrated seven baptisms.

We offered six seminars focused on developing greater health and wholeness through relationships.  Topics covered included Listening, Speaking the Truth in Love, Renewing the Mind (in God’s Truth), Embracing God’s Grace (Healing Prayer), Outflow (Evangelism), and Finding Your Gift Path.

Our network of Life Groups has grown to 23 groups.  These are small groups of 2-4 people who meet weekly to encourage Christian growth in one another through discussing the Bible, confess sin, and pray together for their friends & neighbors.

We hosted a Church Planting Movement Conference in November that further equipped and inspired many in our local body to commit their lives to following Christ and making disciples.

The home group that I have been co-leading has grown in depth of relationship with one another through learning to “listen” and reflect to one another. In addition, it has been encouraging to see others both step into leadership and become more involved with the group.

January

2009 church-wide goal - At our first Soul Gathering of the year we discussed a variety of goals for 2009. Bottom line, though, was to focus on multiplication through discipleship, which means to heed the call for following Jesus – being a part of growing His Kingdom through living out chapters 13-20 in the book of John, as well as 2Timothy 2:2 - “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” And, 1 Corinthians 11:1- “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Please pray for our church as we strive to live out our faith in Christ’s love and example in Amsterdam.

Our church offered a 24-7 Prayer week, which meant that someone was praying in a special room at the church building every hour of the day all week. It was a powerful time of seeing the church come together to pray for one another, reaching the city with God’s love, for other ministries in Amsterdam, for people to come to know Jesus personally and many other things. I believe we, as a community, grew in our understanding of what it means to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:20)

To see some photos of the 24-7 Prayer room, visit Eric’s blog.

Our Servant-Leadership Council, of which I am a part, had a day and a half planning retreat. We began addressing the following questions: where have we been as a church?, are there things we need to change?, where are we now?, and where are we going?  We sought God on issues of our church structure and leadership ... how to best position the church to multiply disciples of Christ.  These discussions raised even more good questions and our dialogue continued into this month’s meeting. Please pray for wisdom and unity in leadership as we move forward!

February

Home Group Leaders Semi-Annual Retreat – 24 of us traveled to a beautiful location on the edge of the National Forest in Holland where we stayed at one of the Natuurvriendhuizen (Friends of Nature House).

Our home group leaders have used two of these spaces (originally developed by Jewish Socialists in the early part of the 20th Century) now, and they've proved to be wonderful facilities for hosting small gatherings like this:  cheap, comfortable, equipped with fabulous industrial-strength kitchens (where we prepare our own meals) and airy meeting spaces -- and out of the city. Most everyone looks forward to getting out of the city. Therefore, one of the best parts about staying at a Natuurvriendenhuis is the ability to go for an afternoon walk at the end of the retreat (this has become something of a tradition for our home group leaders retreats).

Even at a time of the year when the weather is oftentimes inclement, these walks are always a great time for stretching our legs, connecting with each other in deeper, more personal conversation, and enjoying nature together.

During the retreat we had a great time to connecting with each other and learning together. Eva and Patricia organized and executed a wonderful seminar on conflict management, which proved to be very intellectually-stimulating as well as instantly-applicable to our personal lives and our various home groups.  To have a seminar where we could carefully and deliberately learn about the causes, effects, and practical ways to deal with conflict was extremely valuable.

Cycle of Life

On Friday, February 13th I attended my first Dutch funeral since living here in Holland. In some ways it’s a bit surreal to witness the full cycle of life in a 5 year period of time, from the blessings of seeing friend’s newborns at home literally hours after they’ve entered the world, to observing Dutch weddings within our church and now in support of a friend with the loss of her husband. My friend Janja, who I met through Dutch class, was widowed once before when her first husband died of Leukemia only 8 years ago. She moved to Holland when she married Jan, a Dutch man, in the summer of 2006. It’s been difficult to observe Janja over the past year and a ½ having to bear the burden of supporting Jan through his battle with cancer. She is an extremely strong woman. I have been blessed to be a support to her. Please pray for Janja during this difficult time.

Personal Thoughts

I would appreciate your prayers as I travel to America in late February and early-mid March. I’ll be vacationing by driving my vehicle from Indiana to Arizona for my parents to use. They moved to Arizona from Indiana in mid-January. I look forward to visiting with some friends along the way and I hope to avoid any winter storms! Being in the warm and sunny southwest for almost a week will be a joy! Then I will spend a long weekend with my sisters, sister-in-law and oldest niece in Chicago before returning to Amsterdam.

Later in March (23rd and 24th) I’ll be taking the Dutch language exam, made up of 4 parts: reading, speaking, listening and writing. I originally was planning on completing the exam in late January, but due to an error (on my part) I ended up not being properly registered so I was required to reapply. I would appreciate your continued prayers for me to learn more of the language and be proficient enough to pass the exam.

I am grateful for your love, prayers and support.

God bless you,

Linda
linda.kitchen@gcmweb.org