November 2019

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for your continued support these last couple of months, it’s been great to hear from many of you! This week has been a bit of a holiday for me with family and friends coming to stay - good to spend time with them and relax! I’ve written a brief update here, feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about what I’ve been up to. 

Settling in

I lived with the Bellis family for a month when I was looking for longer-term accommodation. They were very kind in welcoming me into their home which really helped me to settle. At the end of September I moved into a house-share with five other housemates. They are all French speaking, young professionals and none of them are Christian. They are all really kind; we cook for one another and share things in the house. They’re always up for a chat; it’s such a great opportunity for me to spend time with Belgians and speak more French as I get to know them. Now that I’ve found a house to live in, I feel like I’m ready to get more stuck in with life in Louvain-la-Neuve (LLN) and see where I can get to know people.

I was concerned about my French ability before coming. However I’ve been really encouraged that I had managed to learn a lot over the last year which has made a big difference. Now I’m able to be active in church and look out for people, ask how they’re doing and get to know people well, and lead bible studies. I’m so grateful to God for giving me the ability to learn so that I can tell people about him! 

Church plant in Louvain-la-Neuve

Taster Sunday at Louvain-la-Neuve

When I arrived in LLN with the Bellis and Clark families, we planned on starting as a church in September with weekly Sunday afternoon services. After a rethink we are now operating as a church planting team with weekly bible studies and monthly ‘Taster Sundays’ - our next one is on 10 November! 

We have three main goals for the next few months before we start properly as a church in early/mid 2020:

  1. We want to increase the number of people in the core church planting team. Each Taster Sunday gives people an idea of what a church at LLN could be like and why a bible teaching church is necessary. 
  2. We want to grow the maturity of the core team, helping us as a team to lead the church as it starts up. 
  3. Fundamentally we want to be spreading the gospel and teaching the Bible to people who need to know the good news!

So lots has happened already in my first two months living in Belgium, and my weekly routine is starting to take shape:

  • Each Sunday I attend Woluwe Church (pronounced Wull-oh-way) - it’s great to have a ‘temporary’ church family and get to know people before we start at LLN. 
  • I have recently started French lessons on Mondays which give me good opportunities to tell others about the church in LLN. 
  • I’m really enjoying my studies at IBB (Brussels Bible Institute) on Tuesdays. In the mornings, I am learning about doctrine - what Christians believe and why. This includes a class debate where we’re challenged to think about why we believe the things we do. In the afternoons, we’re taught the book of Romans. It’s such a great book, I highly recommend reading it all the way through if you haven’t already!
  • I am being trained by Robbie Bellis and James Clark one morning a week. We look at practical aspects of ministry, e.g. how to lead bible studies and Sunday school. 
  • Wednesday evening is a bible study aimed at local inhabitants. We are looking through Philippians together, thinking about being united in sharing the gospel despite hardships.
  • We have recently started bible studies aimed at students on Thursday lunchtimes. We have had two studies so far and seven or eight students have been coming which is so encouraging since we’ve just started! James and I lead a group each through Romans. Some students don’t go to church regularly, some are new to the Christian faith and have no Christian friends at university to support them. It’s a brilliant opportunity to teach the Bible to students who are keen to learn more.

Prayer points

  • I’m aware that I have a long way to go with French; I still make lots of mistakes even if I can be understood. It would be so good if one day I was able to lead services or give talks without relying heavily on notes and able to have more in-depth chats with people. My next step will likely be leading a prayer meeting in December. 
  • Living with five non-Christians is already providing loads of gospel opportunities. I need to think carefully about how I talk to them about the Christian faith since many of them have some notion of Catholic beliefs but nothing more. 
  • Building non-Christian friendships – I’m spending a lot of time with Christians. I would like to become better friends with housemates who are into rock climbing and swimming (sports that I have done in the past); I will hopefully be joining one of them to go rock climbing this week. I’d love to have a group of mates who I can hang out with in LLN and tell them about the gospel of grace.
  • Please pray for me generally - for my growth as a Christian, for patience as I get to know people and try to avoid making cultural faux pas. Pray for me as I read the Bible – to be reminded of God’s goodness, his lordship, my own sin and inadequacy, Jesus’ death on the cross and our reconciled relationship with God. What important and great truths! 

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

Jonny

Reply to this letter