February Ministry Update

Greetings from Amsterdam,

We’ve experienced some “real” winter in the past few weeks here in Holland. As a matter of fact, for the first time in 15 years - since 1997 - the Amsterdam canals were frozen enough for people to enjoy many days of skating and for a 150 meter night race (Keizers Race) to take place, where I was one of 10,000 gathered to watch the event. Much fun was had by all in what was a truly picturesque environment. Too bad it only last about 2 weeks.

Photos left and middle I took in Amsterdam’s city center. Above right photo taken by a Telegraaf newspaper photographer: women’s race heat.

In this update you’ll find some stories about transitions that have taken place or are happening here in Amsterdam. Actually, not much is different with me in particular, however, due to some major changes going on in our ministry both my life and Amsterdam50 will be impacted in some ways in the near future.

Transitional Life Change

I’m excited to share about the life change of my friend, Franziska. I met her in the fall of 2011 at Amsterdam50. We talked every now and then about her spiritual search and what the bible says about Jesus and Christianity. Here is her story:

In 1991 I was born into a normal catholic family in Germany. In April 1998, however, my life changed dramatically. Religion was never a big part of my life, but a God existed for me somehow until the day my father was killed. I was a happy girl up to that point, but from then on I was sad, did badly in school, and felt unloved and that no one understood what I was going through. This state lasted for thirteen years. I remember during that first year I talked to God asking why my father got shot and I asked him to help me understand and recover from that loss. But nothing changed. Life was horrible I started to hate God and myself. There were many moments when I did not want to live anymore, and felt there was no sense to keep going. The truth is, God was there. Looking back I can see his footprints in every detail and see a reason for all the bad things that happened.

Amsterdam50 friends (l to r): Jamie, Franziska, Claire and Marjan

In 2011, I moved to Amsterdam, and looking back can see that God provided all that I needed. My first housemate, David, was going to Amsterdam50 church. Through getting to know him, I came back into contact with faith. He seemed so happy, and I desired to experience this.

In the coming months, God sent me many others to teach, love and bring me closer to Him. On Dec. 12th 2011 I went to receive prayer at a healing prayer room and gave my life to Christ. I experienced the love I was looking for my whole life, God’s unfailing love. It doesn’t mean that everything is easy from one day to the next, but it is definitely so much better to have God and to never be alone again.

Franziska has joined my small group Community. It’s been a joy seeing God’s love growing in her heart. Please pray for Franzi’s spiritual protection, the Lord’s guidance in her life and for continued understanding of who she is in Christ.

Transitional Ministry Change

After nine and a half years of working to establish the ministry here in Amsterdam, our Pastor Eric Asp and his family will be moving back to Ohio in early July 2012. They feel that God is directing them to make a change, although the decision to move from Amsterdam to Ohio wasn't an easy one. There are no immediate crises or concerns, causing them to leave Amsterdam. As a matter of fact, they are deeply saddened when they think about leaving their home, neighborhood, kids' school, current ministry position with Amsterdam50, and most of all the church community.

Eric and his wife Marci along with Elliot (9), Olivia (7) and Cor (4)

Back in 2002, when they were first preparing to move to the Netherlands, they viewed 2012 as a potentially decisive year for their family because of the age of their children (specifically considering transitions related to adolescence and the beginning of secondary education).

They’ve always really considered immigration to the Netherlands to be temporary. Like the rest of us, they didn't come to establish an American church in the Netherlands; but to help establish an Amsterdam church that would ultimately be maintained and multiplied by Amsterdammers.

Together with the developing team of European leaders in the church, there was much prayer and many discussions over the issues of sustainability, spiritual oversight, pastoral care, and support. Counsel was also sought from trusted advisors and Eric and Marci earnestly sought God's guidance. Throughout the whole process, we’ve been reassured that God is in control. Amsterdam50 has been through a lot of challenges in its nine years of existence, but through it all we have forged our identity on being a Church of New Beginnings. As long as everyone can depend on God and band together as a team, Eric has great confidence that their departure will be God's vehicle for another New Beginning.

Pray for the Asp family that they finish well here in Amsterdam, sell their home, and have a smooth transition back to America.

L to R: Naomi, Eric, Linda, Patricia, Eva and Leslie

So, what does this mean for me, my fellow GCM colleagues and the rest of Amsterdam50 church? In many ways, you could say that this New Beginning is exactly what we've been working towards all these years: a New Beginning with European leadership for this European church! Currently there are two Dutch pastors-in-training: Michaël Belgraver and Marc La Porte. They're still growing and developing, but God's Spirit is at work in their lives. Please pray for Michaël and Marc and the rest of the church’s leadership team that we pursue and seek God, depend on Him and put our faith in what the Lord is doing in our midst, regardless of all the future unknowns.

In addition to Eric leaving, another colleague, Eva Ellingsworth is getting married next month and has moved on from ministry with GCM NL. Please pray for a blessing over Eva’s marriage and new career path. Also, pray for me as I take on a new role of Staff Manager for our remaining staff team. Finally, we would appreciate your prayers for Patricia Flynn, Leslie Phillips, Naomi Triggs and me that we’ll function well as we serve together as missionaries, full of purpose and power in shining God’s light and love to many.

Thanks for being in this journey of transitions with me. Your prayers and financial giving are a blessing.

God bless you,