‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”’ James 4, 13-15
We hope this finds you well in heart. Greetings from the town of Louvain-la-Neuve (LLN) in Belgium. The past few weeks have been a timely lesson for us the Clark family in our fragility and boasting (as in the verses above) and that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. What a time this has been for us all to remember that we are but mist, but the Lord Jesus is in complete control and is the only one who graciously gives hope beyond the grave.
For months we had been planning our first ever student mission week here in LLN. We are only a small group and the 20 or so students we’re in touch with were both nervous and excited about it. We had organised three evenings on common misconceptions about God: ‘Isn’t God… just for good people? … a crutch in life? … someone optional?’ We had thousands of flyers printed and spent 10 days giving them out. We’d had a launch evening and prayer meetings. The cooks had done their shopping and had started preparing. All was set to begin and then on the first morning of the mission week James went to pick up the keys and we were told the news: within the previous 24 hours two students had contracted coronavirus and the university dean had banned all student gatherings. It came as a huge blow.
However, through it all, God has been teaching us a great many lessons about our lack of control and our need to depend on him and trust his wisdom. We know that God longs to see all people come to the knowledge of the truth of Jesus, the only ransom and mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:4-5). But we trust that he will do this in his perfect timing.
Although the mission week did not take place, God was graciously encouraging and equipping us and the students by his word. It was the first time we’d seen the believers come together with such a common goal and drive. The students had never been more fervent in prayer to see Christ crucified proclaimed and see their lost friends saved. So we thank God for these encouragements and lessons learnt.
Despite the lockdown here in Belgium (since 13 March), we continue to get ready to launch the church plant, God-willing, in September 2020. Prior to the quarantine we had been holding ‘open Sundays’ each month in the hope of making the project and core values known. And we praise God for the continued interest of a number of families and individuals who work, study or live in LLN. During this quarantine period we’re continuing to meet online on Wednesday evenings to look at the book of Genesis and to pray together.
For Easter celebrations this weekend, we will be preparing two videos explaining the death and resurrection of Christ for the plant members to share. The Clark and Bellis families are hoping also to explain the gospel to our school friends through means of an Easter craft video. Please pray on for boldness and creativity in this time in how to get the gospel out and encourage God’s people.
Praise God that Lou has now recovered from mild symptoms of the virus. The Clark and Bellis family children are enjoying home-schooling, with its various joys and challenges. Max has recently celebrated his fifth birthday too (see photo).
Jonny Tilford, our ministry trainee, continues to be a great spur to us, with his zeal to share the gospel with his housemates. The lockdown has meant that others have been able to join him in our ministry training mornings online via Zoom, which has been a joy. Pray for wisdom also for James and others on the exec for InterAction summer bible camps in how to proceed with planning and training for those camps in July and August.
We remain very thankful to our good and sovereign God for your partnership. Sending love from Belgium,
James, Lou, Max, Julia and Samuel Clark
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