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May 2005 Prayer Letter

News from Linda in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Greetings from a budding and blooming Spring in Holland, Recently I experienced a bike ride past beautiful flower fields between Amsterdam and the North Sea. It seemed as if every 5 minutes I wanted to dismount to snap another photo. The brilliant colors were breathtaking!

Personal News

Within the past month I’ve witnessed another round of “culture shock” at my doorstep. (This happens about every 6 months, according to the experts) Life just seems more difficult, my emotions are worn more on my sleeves, it’s difficult to get out of bed in the morning and there’s sort of a gloom hanging over me. I've been in Amsterdam now for 18 months .... the time has really gone by quickly and the Lord has been near every step of the way.

Many of you know my history of chronic pain. Last month marked the 6th year of this hip injury.... truly a "thorn in my side" but God is gracious and I sense His closeness when I get discouraged. However, I must admit it was quite frustrating when, after being overseas for 9 months, my pain began to increase. Some say all the stair climbing and walking may have caused the added irritation. Well, the worst bout came in March when I experienced more pain than I had in the past 3 years. I pursued medical treatment by an Ortho Manual doctor who I have seen 6 times now. Currently the level of discomfort is under control. I would appreciate your prayers in this area.

A few weeks ago I had a unique experience…

I found out that my cat, Bagheera, who I brought with me to the Netherlands, would need to have a vaccination for “sneezing disease” which I guess is very common here. So, I waited until the weather broke a little bit to take her to the vet clinic. After nearly 18 months of never being out of my apartment, I anticipated quite an adventure as I put her in the container used in the airplane, carried her outside (into the “big city”), and strapped the container onto the back of my bicycle. That’s right… my form of transportation became hers and she rode beautifully for nearly 15 minutes without making a single sound. I was so blessed with how well everything went including the ride there and back, and her treatment at the clinic. Next time I won’t be so nervous.

Zolder 50 News

Multiplication is happening… 3 months ago we began our second public worship gathering on Sundays, so approximately 40-60 have been attending at 4pm (this allows young families to be a part) and anywhere from 100-120 come at 7:30pm. The growth is a complete answer to prayer and a tribute to our loving God who is calling young Dutch and Europeans to Himself. In addition, my homegroup has multiplied, so now there are 7 young Dutch men and women and 1 other American, my roommate Jen, that meet weekly to discuss our lives and study the bible. The effect has been instantaneous and very positive.  The smaller groups are already allowing for greater intimacy and openness, and our times together simply feel more gezellig (comfortable). It’s definitely been a healthy development.  Over time we’ll be able to bring more and more people into the groups and continue the process of multiplying disciples in Amsterdam.

Our community is learning much about the power and significance of coordinated prayer.  Every Sunday evening at the Zolder, a small cluster of men and women representing languages and cultural backgrounds from around the world gather in the “Upper Room” of the Zolder (a room even higher than the rest of the attic, up five levels from the sidewalk and canal below).  And as we settle into the room and begin to pray together, we are able to truly experience the power and effectiveness of community prayer.

Each week, we pray for whatever situations the church or individuals from the church may be facing; thus, no two weeks look or sound exactly the same.  Still, we also consistently pray along four specific themes each week:

Unity between all of the Christians in Zolder 50 and throughout the city; Protection from spiritual attack on the church as a whole, and particularly the church leadership (the spiritual battle in Amsterdam is intense, to say the least); Influence for the Kingdom of God through a supernatural ability to be effective with our connections around the city … praying specifically for 100,000 people to be reached with the love of Jesus through the influence of Christian “light” being shed in greater Amsterdam; and Development of individuals growing into fully-devoted and mature followers of Jesus Christ, along with God developing effective leadership for the church – especially young, Dutch leadership.

I’ll close this section of news with an e-mail received by our team from some American parents who visited this Spring. Their perspective on what God is doing here is quite refreshing:

“Many of you are expressing personal setbacks, loneliness, and discouragement!  May you feel the Lord's loving embrace, especially today and this week, and may you be encouraged to continue in your efforts to spread His Kingdom!  You have created a church where there was none!  You have created a warm, welcoming atmosphere for people to gather and hear about the Lord, who never even knew they had a need!  And you have brought many into the fold of Christ, ……  There of course is much more work to be done, but be encouraged by your successes and all that the Lord has blessed you with, to allow you to continue in your work for Him!!!”

Europe News

Over the Easter week I attended the annual European staff retreat, again this year at Lake Balaton, Hungary. Living up to its name, the retreat was a week filled with reconnecting with fellow missionaries, rest and recreation, sprinkled with some teaching on “Strengthening Ourselves in God” and sightseeing (one afternoon I rode a bike around part of the lake and another day hiked up a hill for a picnic overlooking the lake).

Those attending were about 90 GCM staff, including missionary children, from Germany (Dortmund and Berlin), Holland (Amsterdam), Italy (Turin), Poland (Poznan) and Ukraine (Kiev). Fellowshipping and encouraging one another was a highlight for me. I was touched with all the stories that were shared by those in Ukraine about the Orange Revolution that occurred due to the re-election. It was amazing to hear how the people of that land stood up for righteousness and human dignity as they experienced a real birth of their nation. An older Ukrainian man shared with Robbie, one of GCM’s missionaries, “Just these few days of real freedom would be worth a lifetime in prison.”

Wow, how powerful! Having never lived under communist rule, I cannot even imagine what it must have felt like to be “freed” from that form of oppression. However, I do know the freedom I find in Christ, who forgave my sins, and chose to set me free from eternal separation from Him.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

I am so thankful for the glorious freedom I have as a child of God. (Rom 8:21)

Thank you for your support of this ministry. I couldn’t do what I do without people like you who are willing to give and pray to help me be a missionary to young people in Europe.

Blessed by you,