We love our town and want to do all we can to bring God’s blessing here!
There are a number of key things we are doing in our community to show God’s love here…
- Life Groups – relational gatherings in the community that live out the good news of Jesus in our town
- #WellingtonChurch – the wonderful partnership and love across the churches of the town working together.
- Schools – on many levels working with and in the schools to share God’s love to the children of the town.
- Special events – often working with other churches, to bless the town.
- Prayer – Tuesday morning and Thursday evening set aside to pray and focus on God’s heart for the town
Belgium is a complex country. So to be over simplistic, you could say this is because over the centuries it has undergone so many radical changes of culture and leadership. For a concise summary of the political history Click Here. This is in significant contrast to the UK where there has been nearly 1000 years without invasion. The mindset is therefore quite different.
The current political view from the outside appears to be one of division. One country with 3 very different federal regions: Flanders, the Flemish speaking north/west and Wallonia, the French speaking south/east (with a bit of German thrown in too). Lastly Bruxsels, the cosmopolitan capital and central seat of European government. The Flemish & French speaking sides of the country have regular political differences with a significant minority often shouting for independence from the other. The resulting attitude is a paradox – one of compromise yet still wanting to remain very committed to personal values.
Relationally the Belgian is more likely to hold very deep, committed friendships with a few trusted people rather than be open to everyone. This aspect of their character means that evangelism has become both culturally and personally uncomfortable for a lot of people. Along side this is the nominal Roman Catholicism across the nation makes for quite an interesting mix!
You will also find the Belgian State to be paradoxical in that it is completely secular in it’s political stances with education and relational values. Yet it is the government that traditionally maintains and pays for much of the work in the Roman Catholic church. In recent years a few radical Cardinals have made headlines by standing against the states’ “political correctness”.
The Bible is not a common book in Belgium. In contrast to the UK where many households have at least one copy, it was illegal to have a copy of the bible until the mid 1950’s. Then there was more struggle with ‘second vatican’ which was not adopted in Belgium (1966) . So unlike the rest of europe, only priests had the privilege for reading the bible, and then only in Latin. So the word of God had never been heard or read in their mother tongue . To this day this is still a significant hurdle to jump.
Whilst the Roman Catholic church is still the states ‘official’ church, it is now very poorly attended.
As far as ‘evangelical’ Christian witness goes – the ‘reformed’ churches (Baptist / Methodist / Penticostal / Lutheran etc.) were considered sects until fairly recently. They currently gain recognition under a combined ‘synod’ that allows them to be called church, but they are still quite few in number. To be an independent congregation like our own Life Central Church or even Vineyard / New Frontiers and the like, would be to be seen as a sect. As such, offerings would be heavily taxed and no freedom to witness legally today.
In our short time in Belgium that we saw real change. The body grew – with new believers, not transfers. We found a heart in people to see Belgium minister among the rest of Europe. We have a hope that the vision that was imparted will continue to see new life develop as people continue to search & hear God’s Word and move with the Holy Spirit – faith will grow ! (Romans 10v14-17)
At Life Central we are re-connecting with the believers in the Oostende area with a view to growing in relationship and supporting each other with the gifts and ministries that we have available.
In 2010 our pastor, Steve Jenkins, ventured to Burundi for the first time. A beautiful landlocked country in the heart of Africa, with wonderful people – yet they have been brutally scarred by civil war and bloodshed. It was relatively stable at that time, but neighbouring Congo was showing us that things can change in a moment. The trip made was really to see what the needs are first hand… and there are many needs. But having connected with some trusted leaders there, he was certain that it was right to take this relationship deeper in the years to come…
Feb 2015 brought a second visit where some great plans were in motion. Larisa, Steve’s wife, joined him and together they took every opportunity to share all the good news they could
Steve has a quick story to share with you….
“On my first trip to Burundi we were in a 4×4 and ‘up country’ in quite a remote place… they don’t see many cars around there. We turned a corner and clipped a plate that was on the floor. It belonged to an old woman and she was trying to sell the contents of the plate to survive… there was just a little corn on it, but that had now been scattered across the road due to our accident. The local villagers immediately cried out and we stopped to see what had happened. I talked with my guide and offered her a 200 Burundian Franc note as compensation for her loss… I know that was more than she would have got for the grain, so I hoped she would be happy with that. I was surprised at her response… this old lady began to cry, saying she had never held a real note of this value in her life!
How much was the note worth in GBP £’s ? ….about 15p That’s right. Just fifteen pence was a life changing moment.”
We don’t understand hunger or poverty until we live it, but what we can do is give what we think is a small amount in our culture, that will make a huge difference to those that REALLY need it!
If you want to make a donation where you know 100% will go direct to the needs… you can give by clicking the Donate button below.
Here is a 6 minute video put together by Steve shortly before he became pastor at Life Central Church