Greetings from Siliguri! We are almost halfway our three month journey through Asia and Africa, and it has been going really
well! God continues to amaze us with how well He has prepared everything ahead of us! We feel incredibly privileged to get to be a part of what God is doing in different places, and to get more and more revelation about Him, His Kingdom and on how He is preparing the nations for His return and coming Kingdom.
To our great joy, traveling together as a couple through Asia and Africa is going far beyond expectations. We travel and minister together in a very natural way, adding to each other, sometimes flowing together with other friends in the places we visit. The messages God puts in our hearts is like finishing each other’s sentences. Physically we are doing amazing. Alette hasn’t been carsick, which is nothing short of a miracle! Until last week we didn’t get sick, and here it seems to be related more to the spiritual atmosphere than anything else. At the same time, we both experience the longing to be home and have our own place, but it is so worth it! Below we will share some more about each part of the trip so far, and give a little look into the road that’s still ahead the coming seven weeks.
Shalom, Johan & Alette
We spent these two weeks with our friends David and Cornelia and those around them. David is a visionary who does a lot of different things in partnering with Jesus for the advancement the gospel of the kingdom, including taking care of orphans and widows, preaching and ministering, and sending out missionaries to unreached parts of Myanmar.
We spent a lot of time in one on one interaction, praying for and encouraging the missionaries who are under David’s leadership. We had most time with David, who is such a humble, prayerful, and wise leader. There have been lots of questions about what a house of prayer is, how to have one (or a sustained praying community,) and how to do partnership development. We foresee that in the future we might spend extended time in equipping the leaders and missionaries we are connected with in these two areas.
David mentioned that he felt so encouraged and built up with our visit because he doesn’t have anyone around who can really speak into his life. We were also able to strategize and pray together about different obstacles in both ministry and personal affairs in his life, as well as explore/process plans for the future.
We have also been able to spend time with the kids that Forerunner supports, and work out a number of practical things to continue this work in the future. They’re doing so well, it’s such a joy to sow into their little lives. Many of them are not from Christian families, but now they have the opportunity to hear about Jesus regularly.
The first week we spent with friends in Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and Kavali/Nellore, where we go to preach in two churches. Several times we sung ‘special songs’ together, which was a neat experience for us as a couple.
Since arriving in India, things picked up in pace quite a bit. We’ve been on the go a lot to preach in churches, communities, and tribal villages. It is truly, a unique, restful experience to be in remote places where plastics are mostly absent, along with the sound of cars and machines. Oh the freshness of the mountains, clean air, the trickling creek in the background, and the smoky natural scent in the air.
It’s incredible to see the impact and encouragement for the believers here, some walking far and long to neighboring tribal villages to hear us speak, simply hungry for the word and thankful for any measure of encouragement. Even more amazing is that they remember what Johan shared 10 years ago. They kill their precious chicken to feed us (with meat so tough you sometimes think you’re eating rubber) and dance ahead of us to guide us to the meeting place. I (Alette) was particularly struck when we visited certain tribal villages that had met Johan 10 years before, and how they had been praying for his wife and were so happy to see the answer to their prayers. Wow!
More than once we have been asked to preach at the last minute, and it’s remarkable how full messages are just flowing out of us like water, as though we prepared them for months. Often we would take turns preaching and without talking about our message beforehand we happened to have two complementary parts, as if it were one message. This is consistent with many of the words received before we left, that God would not give us the message beforehand, but in the moment. What a restful way to do ministry! We’ve been sharing on topics like: Faith in the Context of our Eternal Story, Restoring the Family Altar, the First Commandment, Transformation in our Communities, the Humility of Jesus, the Joy of the Lord as our Strength (in the context of repentance (Nehemiah 8:10), and How to Stand Against the Accuser.
It was wonderful to have time with the children in the children’s home. They are so joyful and full of love. Over the years they have grown close together and their behavior and interaction with one another has notably matured. We spent time with each child to get to know them a little and pray over them. With the Jena family we had a good meeting about how to continue the partnership in the future. We ended the last days with a fun program, lots of laughter, fireworks (if you want to see excitement, watch the video on our Facebook!) and a good meal.
The road ahead
Currently we are in Siliguri, North India. We have some exciting stories to tell about our time here, but due to the length of this (delayed) newsletter we have to save it for next time!
We have been traveling for 43 days and have 53 days left. (see the itinerary here). Next weekend we expect to be in Kolkata with our friend’s children’s home, but sadly they could not be there due to a medical situation. Then we have some days in Goa to rest, pray and meet with some friends that we ran into in Kansas City and who will be there exactly those same days! Next is a visit to Mumbai, and then we jump to Africa!
Traveling together has given us increased insight in how we function together as a couple. We are excited about how we each can preach, teach, lead worship together, have meaningful one on one interactions that build people up. It is such a joy to flow together! For Johan this trip is completely different from the (often lonely) journeys he has had before, where he also was often praying for someone to accompany him who could lead worship and teach as well.
We are praying and believing for our own home in Amersfoort near to the house of prayer, which will serve as a home base from where we believe the Lord will continue to send us to the nations. We expect that though Alette may join on a number of assignments, it will probably be Johan who will go on longer trips to certain areas, while she primarily serves in the House of Prayer and on assignments in Northern Europe. The next two months we expect to see the Lord lay out His plans even more as we are with befriended ministries in Africa, and praying about whether or not we are to join in long-term in ministry partnership.
Financially this trip has been another beautiful journey of faith. Even though hardly any donations came in, God has surprised us with extras from our home church, delayed payments, donations from Indian church members etc that have covered all of our ministry expenses up until now. He is so faithful. We are expectant of his continued faithfulness for the latter part of this amazing journey the Lord has called us to be on.