Greetings once again from the eastern side of the Atlantic…read on for a recap of the past 7 weeks since my
return to Amsterdam following my summer-long furlough on the western side of the Atlantic: (throughout this update you will find links to additional stories and photos that my colleagues have given me permission to use)

- Life has been one big transition since late April when I came back from Hungary (our Annual Euro Staff Retreat) and finalized my trip plans for being in the U.S. all summer. Upon returning on Amsterdam in late August instead of unpacking and getting settled in to life here again, I was faced with boxing up my
belongings in preparation for vacating the building (our church included) by the end of September.
Needless to say, I’m still not settled… more on that later.

- It was a blessing to reconnect with my Amsterdam church family and arrive just in time to celebrate the end of the summer annual Zolder 50 “sabbatical” month (Sundays of meeting in the park, home group scavenger hunt, home group dinners) with a Saturday night party (complete with funny face competition— see below, live band, chocolate fondue, 80’s music DJ, etc).

- In mid-September our church hosted a fundraising dinner to provide an opportunity for the Zolder 50 community to join with others to give to those in need in Kenya. We raised $3000 for the cause. (www.solisfoundation.blogspot.com)

- The month of September we had our annual Freestyle event where the church gathered during our standard service times on Sunday beginning with extended worship and prayer. Then for the “teaching” times people chose between one of three different topics, which included 1. biblical relationships, dating, sex, and marriage; 2. Bringing God into the workplace, being Christian businessmen; 3. an Old Testament study on the Book
of Malachi.

- In addition, our church focused on prayer and fasting last month specifically seeking God‘s direction for the future of our church and new meeting location, our new neighbors, deeper growth and commitment of existing church members– moving them from self-centered “consumers” to mission-minded “producers”, and having deeper courage, faith, love, devotion, loyalty, unity, healing and calling. We fasted every Monday and ended the fast with corporate prayer on Tuesday mornings after a 6:00 prayer meeting. Zolder 50 has a history of God taking us through change, so we sought the Lord freshly for what this time of change should be remembered for.

Jesus said: "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Luke 11:9-10)

The Father said: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD," (Jeremiah 29:13-14)

- Saying “good-bye” to the Zolder occurred in a number of different ways, one being our final “Soul Gathering” where the core of the church —people who are dedicated to and consider Zolder 50 their community of faith — met on the Friday before we moved out. Needless to say, we shared memories and stories in celebration of what God had done the previous 4 years in our young church’s history. Todd shared a beautiful “by faith” story that you can read on his blog (http://givenew.blogspot.com/2006/09/by-faith.html). People reminisced about tearing down walls, scraping ceiling beams, painting, decorating, moving in the furniture via a crane on the street level, etc. In addition, there were numbers of folks who have only known the Zolder as an already renovated, beautiful space who talked about how Jesus became real to them in this place or how their understanding of “church” took on a new form and their spiritual interest heightened when they came in contact with our community in the Zolder. The evening was capped off with taking communion and worshipping our Amazing Lord, Savior and Provider, at which time I found myself weeping as we sang “Surrender” -- I thought of leaving the “home” where Bagheera and I moved in to in November 2003, a place which holds such special memories of my life with her — I have struggled emotionally with moving out of “our” space. God has been close in the process, thankfully.

- The final Sunday of September I also experienced an emotional moment when joining with my brothers and sisters in a packed out zolder singing “Amazing Grace” in Dutch with the windows in the attic wide open (it was a warm night)!!! It was quite moving to see in front of me over 130 young men and women who God has drawn to Himself through this ministry. At the same time knowing there was a “Kade Feest” (neighborhood/street party) going on below us at the street level, where all our neighbors living on the Leidsekade heard young Dutch hearts expressing the love of God through beautiful song, was a very special way to say “good-bye” to our neighbors.

- October is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of our church. After four years of ministry in “De Zolder” (“The Attic”), we have said good-bye to our beloved home overlooking the waters of the Singelgracht and have entered a period of transition in the relocation for our church. Moving out of the attic space was quite a smooth process (http://amsterdamasp.blogspot.com/2006/09/moving-out.html) where the community displayed beautiful teamwork. We began meeting at a new (temporary) location where over 150 people found their way to meet with us the first Sunday this month. The message that day was a call to embrace the inherently nomadic nature of the people of God (following in the footsteps of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus). And embrace it we have! Truly, we are thankful for the way things have gone so far–and it seems we have every reason to be encouraged through this season of transition. Rejoice with me -

- Upon arriving back in the Netherlands I was able to finalize the legalized documents for residency and work until Spring 2009. I have my permits, visas and sofi-nummer (similar to a social security number), have registered for Dutch classes (had to wait for the other items to come through first) and I also became an official employee of Stichting GCM Netherlands on September 1, 2006. (I still work for the same mission organization, Great Commission Ministries, but now it’s legally through the Dutch recognized non-profit).

- On October 16 it became official -- we signed a contract on a new church meeting space on the Herengracht in the center of Amsterdam!!! Thank you for all of your prayers regarding this issue. You can read more on our website (www.amsterdam50.nl) in the middle white section half-way down the home page under “news”.

Prayer request —

  • Personal housing situation - my initial search for a new place to live resulted in the realization that to rent a one bedroom apartment would be twice as expensive as paying a monthly mortgage on the same apartment. Therefore I began pursuing whether or not I would qualify to buy an apartment (kind of unheard of in the U.S., but that’s how it works here). At this point one mortgage advisor has said it would be impossible since I don’t have a permanent residence permit (green card), so I will be pursuing other banks and advisors before ruling out that possibility completely. In the meantime, I had to move out of my apartment at the end of September and the Lord provided a room which I am renting month-by-month until the end of December while the search continues. Praise God for His Provision!!! Please pray for the perfect, affordable housing situation to open up within a 15-minute bike ride from our new ministry location. Thank you for your partnership through prayer and financial support of GCM!
    In His Grace,

    current/temporary mailing address:
    Leidsekade 49
    1016 CW Amsterdam