October 2019

Wow. I can’t believe that I’ve already been in Belgium a month; time has truly flown by. Thank you so much for all of your prayers!

The first couple of weeks were quite relaxed, as it was the tail end of the summer break so the usual weekly groups had not yet commenced. This was a real blessing as I found my feet in Brussels.

Then things began in earnest. In addition to all of the regular activities, there have been loads of things happening at the weekends. Firstly it was ‘La Rébellution’, a weekend conference for young people on how to live life to the full, for which I was drumming. On Friday we had a full-day practice, then Saturday was the conference. A couple of weekends ago was the 100th anniversary for the Brussels Bible Institute (or IBB, Institute Biblique de Bruxelles). There was a concert by a Christian band called Yatel, which we took the youth of Woluwe Church along to. Then on Saturday there was a full-day conference, which was absolutely brilliant. Finally on Sunday was the diploma ceremony, for which I was playing the Cajon. 

Last weekend was the Belgium Bible Conference, run by the Proclamation Trust. The next weekend is a weekend away with about 50 young people full of bible teaching, for which I will be doing practical tasks. Pretty full on!

Aside from these one-off events, I have started classes at IBB, studying Romans and Exegesis. Romans is essentially a summary of the Gospel. It’s been a very timely reminder that no one is just, not even one, and all alike are facing the reality of God’s righteous anger. And then the two brilliant words in 3v20: ‘But now…’. The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the Law, through the foolishness of the cross, through which God shows his justice *at the same time* as justifying sinners. What a truly wise God we have!

I’ve found that French hasn’t prevented me from engaging fully with these classes, which is an amazing answer to prayer. I’m also involved with a variety of groups at Woluwe Church - attending some, and helping with some e.g., prayer meetings, bible studies, young adults, youth and Sunday school. I have to confess, leading six kids in a discussion group and prayer time in French was pretty terrifying!

I’m finding that I’m understanding most of what goes on in sermons, partly because they are tightly structured around a passage. They also often repeat the same point in slightly different ways for emphasis, so I can try and understand the second or third time which helps! Group conversations however still go completely over my head; lots of people speaking at the same time, background noise, a fast pace of conversation, and topics for which I don’t know any of the vocab all make them quite tricky to understand! I have also not managed to find French lessons which fit with my timetable; I will try to do some self-study when I have the time.

The people here are really lovely and hospitable: I’m sharing a flat with two students of IBB who are really kind and speak slowly to me so I can understand; the Oranges are so hospitable, and there’s a whole bunch of lovely people in their 20s at Woluwe Church. All of this has made adjustment surprisingly easy, so praise the Lord for that. However, conversations have inevitably mostly been quite shallow, because I lack the French to understand and express deeper and more meaningful things.

Give thanks for:

  • Understanding most of the French in the theology lessons at IBB
  • The incredible joy and privilege of studying theology
  • Really welcoming and friendly locals
  • Many opportunities to get stuck in both at church and also other conferences

Please pray:

  • My French would improve quickly so I can have more meaningful conversations with people
  • All of the theology and bible studies would change my thoughts and attitudes, and not just be an intellectual pursuit
  • I wouldn’t base my self-worth on how well I’m doing at French, or how useful I feel I’m being, but in my identity in Christ.