Live It and Give It! (Zug, Switzerland)- for July 2010
It is a beautiful day in Zug, Switzerland, 11:00 a.m. and I’m sitting in the Starbucks at Metalli with Jesus and you (via my keyboard) trying to put into words some stories of amazing people the Lord has allowed me to cross paths with. In continuation of “other people’s stories” as the theme in 2010 for me with these Live It and Give It (LIFT) updates. This time around it is a collection of 5 encounters with church planters/missionaries around Europe.
My work life at an International company takes me to all sorts of places and this year in particular I’ve been intentional to seek out and connect with Kingdom influencers whenever possible. Aside of the all too brief words about meeting with each of these men (although they all are blessed with wives, one of them getting married today!), for me there has been a back story behind each meeting of simply being amazed at watching God orchestrate these divine encounters. 12 months ago, I knew none of them and one by one, from one mutual friend or connection we were “introduced” via e-mail (or Facebook), then my work travel schedule sent me to their country, then my local schedule allowed an open night free from work commitments to meet, while at the same time their schedules aligned just the same…….yes, God scripted the steps along the way! Over the next weeks, I’ll share more about their stories as today, it’s Horace from Belgium who is highlighted.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Horace serves the Kingdom outside of Brussels in Flemish speaking Leuven, a university city. Overall, their ministry work there over the last few years has been mainly based on “serving others”. Their organization, Serve The City uses volunteer work forces to serve in countless ways across the city; from expected things like feeding and clothing the homeless, clean up projects, to other very personal and real things like spending time with elderly people in their homes who need tasks done or just need someone to talk and share stories with. Horace’s organization also sends out teams abroad for short term service/mission trips to various places. Interestingly, as they have a base of approx. 400 volunteers involved in serving others, the vast majority are NOT Christians, but care to serve others and give of their time, money and resources to make a difference, regardless of faith based or not. Currently, they are now transitioning in creating more of a “church plant” with regular gatherings/worship services on Sundays for those who desire to grow in faith. For a guy like me who studied countless church planting models and lived the LIFT experience over the last five years, the reality of what Horace has done is exceptional, especially since it’s somewhat “backwards” to the norm. They first created a large movement and cause with hundreds involved, then transitioned those who desire a deeper relationship and purpose in life with Jesus to come together for “church”. Some out there might think this is a “bait and switch”, but if you were to have the opportunity to meet Horace in person and hear his heart and story, then one will quickly get it that he’s for real and genuine with people, whether they go to “the church” or not, they are important to him and others and valued, regardless of their current faith beliefs. His story: Horace was raised in a home far from relationship and knowing Jesus, but full of religion and practices. Polo (yes, the sport on horses hitting the balls around large fields to score) was his early professional career, taking him from Belgium to South America and eventually Florida depending on which team he was contracted to play for. Although polo’s fan base is not as big as soccer’s current World Cup, nor American football or basketball, he had a cool life of pro sports, traveling, money, cars and a bit of fame within the sport…..but deep down searching for purpose. I pray someday, you can hear him share the full version of his powerful story directly from him, so I’ll just wind down the short version with him meeting Jesus personally nearing his mid-twenties as he was wrapping up his Polo career. Although having this new found relationship with Jesus, knowing God and having a purpose in life, it didn’t solve all of his life’s problems and issues at the time, in fact in some ways his circumstances even got more difficult. Needless to say, faith is normally strengthened by circumstance and through perseverance and within a couple of years he found himself in another city serving God at a church in the States where he met Tina. Another decade later, Horace, Tina and their kids are serving their city in Belgium and serving others, in a relevant and real way! Horace is a man of vision and action to creating a reality of those visions…..that’s a man of faith indeed!
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: David serves the Kingdom in Stockholm. We met in May and not only did we both have a passion in serving the Lord, we’ve both been blessed with God enhancing our family via adoption. As much as my family saw God “work out” countless details, paperwork and bureaucracy with our Sarah, David’s story of his two adopted boys who are about Silas’ age (one a year older and the other a year younger) touched me more than his also amazing story of Kingdom work and ministry in both Sweden and the UK. Sweden, like Switzerland, is very complicated and a long process when it comes to adoption, often 5 years or more are necessary, and yet David’s cases a decade ago were miraculous with both their infant sons coming into their family in less than two months (although two years apart) from starting the adoption process. The connections of how David and I “met” (via another friend, Derek Webster, who’s never “met” David face 2 face either) is also beyond the realm of simple coincidence.
DUSSELDORF, GERMANY: Adaumir serves the Kingdom in Dusseldorf with Mosaic Dusseldorf. A Brazilian national, who’s also a German citizen via his German wife, church planting there for approx. 5 years, but also has a “day job” to provide for his family. A father of 3 (two sons about Silas and Livia’s ages and a beautiful lil’ girl about 2 years old) and we’ve realized we’ve got a lot in common actually! I first met Adaumir on the phone last October, then in person a few weeks later as I fly to Dusseldorf frequently since my company’s headquarters is nearby. We last met two weeks ago and shared a meal at a Brazilian restaurant while watching a world cup game together and sharing what the Lord is doing in our lives and ministries. More to come in the future, but Adaumir has been a huge encouragement for me personally as we really do have a lot in common although our ministry contexts are different…..we’ve connected well in mutual friendship and encouragement, as he says “we are of the same tribe!”
DUSSELDORF, GERMANY: Alan serves the Kingdom in Dusseldorf with Mosaic Dusseldorf as well. I’ve shared a bit of his story before as he’s “the dancer” and choreographer that came to Germany last year from Los Angeles on faith and calling and not much else (financially, etc). I love crazy adventurers who GO in faith…and not much more, so God can get the glory as He blesses faith with His faithfulness. Alan not only had a place to live, enough food to survive and been able to connect and serve others, Alan found his life’s greatest blessing in Germany and is getting married, TODAY (actually even as I write, Veronica will be walking the aisle very soon!) Last Monday while there on business, I had the opportunity to met Veronica and they took me to Mosaic’s new facility that the Lord has provided after years of meeting in Adaumir’s living room, then another weekly rented place, and now a full time place to encounter and grow faith every day of the week!
MILAN, ITALY: Jason serves the Kingdom in Milan, a city in a country full of Christian religion and history, but “somewhat empty” on relationship in knowing God personally through Jesus Christ! Every time I talk with Jason, I smile as he’s got a bit of a Southern USA accent, but isn’t really from Arkansas because he was raised most of his live in Brazil on mission with his family. Over the past 5 years he’s transitioned his Portuguese into Italian and connected especially since his passion is football (known as soccer to some). In fact, a side mission/opportunity for Jason has been coordinating the Atleti di Cristo (similar to Fellowship of Christian Athletes) in Italy in connecting pro players and community projects which often allow these famous athletes to share their faith as well. After meeting last year while there on work, and some continued correspondence, Jason and I shared lunch and a couple hours together in downtown Milan last Saturday. It was great to hear that their church plant is continuing to grow and they are now having Sunday gatherings at a rented venue alongside their meeting in their home where they’ve outgrown over the years.
So there you have it…..just a glimpse into some areas around Europe where God has put His Kingdom influencers into these cities. “Other people’s stories” for me has been an incredible experience in not just hearing, but seeing what the Lord is doing in the lives of these men and their families. Hard to believe that in just the last three months I met with each of these men in their cities and their stories of life, faith and seeing God work through their ministries are inspiring. These brief words about Horace and the others in the weeks ahead, truly don’t even begin to share their full stories………their journey and journeys continue! Take a moment and pray for them, their families, their ministries and their cities and may the Lord continue to bless His Kingdom in these places and across all the nations as we, the Followers of Jesus, continue to Live our Faith and Give it away….near and far!
In His grip and grace,
PS- For those of you that are part of LIFT, interesting to note is part of our missions giving the past three years has been in part to the Mosaic Alliance, and the Serve the City in Brussels and Mosaic Dusseldorf have been two of the ministries that Mosiac had forwarded some of our missions giving to….another part of the back stories of God scripting these mutual serving the Kingdom encounters!