Category Archives: The Journey to Europe

Follow us on our journey in Europe.

Lessons learned…

A few months ago I wrote a blog (Journey 2 Berlin) in which I shared about my trip to Berlin with Evangelist Mando Gonzales, Sr. Lately I’ve been thinking about our trip, and some of the things I’ve learned from him. Reflecting on the conversations we had I have to agree with the words of the Roman historian Tacitus; “Experience teaches”. I am fully aware that we can learn from our personal experiences, but how much more from the experiences of others, if we pay attention?

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will. -Vernon Howard

Little did I know that our trip to Europe was not a coincidence, but a preparation for what is to come. I could not foresee that This Journey to Europe’ would cause me to think differently. Differently because in the Urban Training Center we visited churches for 1-4 weeks partnering with-, and helping them in various ways through; drama’s, worship, evangelism, children’s ministry, and follow-up are just a few to name. However after a certain time we would return to our campus continuing our program. Not to take anything away from the effectiveness of the Urban Training Center, but we did not have to think like the pastor of a church, we were more like a van-load full of evangelists; ‘blow-in, blow-up, and blow-out’.

I am convinced that during these months in Europe God put a new desire in my spirit, mind, and heart; “to pastor a church someday”. I believe when this will happen, these Lessons learned will be helpful in pastoring a church, along with the countless lessons I still have to learn through experience, and from others;

1. Building relationships, with influential people and organizations in the community. This so-called networking can become useful at certain times, providing the needed resources in order to accomplish a particular goal, but our ultimate ambition should be to change our community.

2. Evangelism; the presence of witnessing Christians in the neighborhoods will influence the community, and it is also crucial for a church to continue to preach the gospel to the unchurched. When the church stops evangelizing, the church stopped caring, and therefore it will stop growing. Never neglect the responsibility to be ‘a fisher of men’ (Matthew 4:19)

“He who rules the streets, rules the city” -Pastor Ed Morales

3. Change; God did not save us to stay the same, but He wants us to change. It sounds too easy to be true, but as we change our community will change.

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.  I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.  When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.  I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.  Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.  My family and I could have made an impact on our town.  Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world. -Author Unknown

4. Stewardship; when Christians are taught that the community they live in belongs to God, they begin to understand the responsebility of stewardship. Like the story in Matthew 25:14-25; the servants that became successful invested; energy, time, and money. God will give us the City and more, if we as the Church invest likewise into our community instead of keeping what we have hidden in the ground.

5. Servanthood; as the Church we are not only called to serve each other, but also our community. This is an act of love, and it will surely impact the city, and done consistently it will eventually change the city. For example the following blog  ‘I (HEART) SAN DIEGO’ by Al Valdez, senior pastor of Victory Outreach San Diego is a perfect example of a Church serving the community.

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EuroUTC (part 2)

You can have the desire to open a UTC, but besides students (which is not the hardest part) you also need a building. You probably understand our excitement when we heard about the building that Victory Outreach Rotterdam was planning to rent in Rhoon. The fact that the pastors of VO Rotterdam have a vision for a UTC in Europe, made it only easier.

We made our way to Rhoon, which is only a few minutes away from Rotterdam, to look at the property. The place was enormous; a building with 3 departments, room for about 80 residence, an industrial kitchen, chapel, and much more. As we walked through this place we talked about the Potential of it; a Christian Recovery Home for men and women, and off course a UTC. The facility would be rented for at least two years, maybe not a very long time, but for the UTC a good starting point. At least you have one foot in the door, and it gives you time to look for another building, especially when we see that the EuroUTC will draw many students from all around the world.

Pictures of the building in Rhoon

Whenever you do something that builds the kingdom of God, you will face Problems, or in other words Opposition. Jesus experienced this first handed as he was preaching the good news of the kingdom, and His disciples did too. We had the opportunity also, to get a little taste of it. After we made the plans in Rhoon official, the drama started. For the next few months we were featured in newspapers, the Internet, asked for a TV interview, mentioned in a TV Segment, and we had many meetings with city officials and neighborhood residence. Most of the time it wasn’t positive, and the sad thing was that the plans were not opposed, but we as people. The past lifestyle of many of our members was brought up, and that “this type of people will never change” or “they will cause for problems in our nice town”, and the list can go on and on. At one of the meetings a attendee said it nicely; Victory Outreach could’ve been the best group, but at the wrong time and in the wrong place.”

For now the plans for a UTC in Rhoon are on a hold, but the vision for a UTC in Europe is still there. The negotiations are not over yet about the property, so keep VO Rotterdam in you prayers. We need to  pray that God may open this door, or uses this situation to open another one, one that can not be shut. There is a big need, and for sure VO Rotterdam can use another place for their Christian Recovery Homes. And continue to pray with us for that window of opportunity, to see a EuroUTC becoming a reality in this part of the world.

NOTE! the links are mainly in Dutch, my apologies for this.

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EuroUTC (part 1)

The Urban Training Centers is a powerful ministry where young people are being discipled and trained for the ministry. We’ve been privileged to be involved in this ministry since 2000, and during that time we had the opportunity to be directors of both the East Coast UTC and the West Coast UTC. The UTC’s are close to our heart, because it is there were we fell deeper in love with Jesus, and here we also realized the plan and purpose God had for our lives. So, when we had to return to Europe for a season, and we were asked to look for the possibility for a UTC in Europe, we could only say; “Yes!”

The Purpose of the UTC’s is, like I mentioned earlier, to disciple and train young people for the ministry, but also to serve the many churches in their region(s). Off course there is more to it than just that, and I promise you will get a bigger picture by visiting their website and taking the time to read the UTC blogs.

We have traveled to various cities within Europe the last few months, and one thing comes to mind when you visit the churches and meet the people; Potential!

The people in the churches are hungry for more, and all though the opportunity is there to go to a UTC elsewhere, not everybody has the means or possibility to go to US, Mexico or South Africa. When you stand among these young people -in Victory Outreach we call them The GANG – listening to their testimonies, the desires they have, and their love for God, you just want them all to be able to go to the UTC. During this time of separation they can experiencing the Process, as God prepares the individual for the calling that is upon their life. It is in the UTC where they allow God to get a hold of their life, and they get a hold of God. With the program and all the training that the UTC offers, these young people will be able to make an impact in their cities, country and also this continent. Can you imagine a group of on fire young people visiting your church for a few weeks; evangelizing in the streets, ministering at the church services with music, drama, even preaching His Word? I am sure that they, you and your city will never be the same again.

We are in Europe now for 8 months, and this blog series is for all those that have a desire to enroll the UTC, those that want to send students to the UTC, and everybody else that -just like us- wants to see this vision come to pass; a EuroUTC.

If by reading this blog, you like more information concerning the UTC please visit their website, and don’t forget to leave a ‘Shout Out’.

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Journey 2 Berlin

IMG_3098Evangelist Mando Gonzales, Sr.

Sometimes it happens that you are in the position to seize an opportunity of a life time, and  when those rare moments happen; Seize them! That’s what I did this October, when I was able to join Evangelist Mando Gonzales, Sr. on his trip to Berlin, Germany. Mando was scheduled to minister the weekend at Victory Outreach Berlin, a pioneering church that was launched out by Victory Outreach Rotterdam in 2007, and I was privileged to travel with him.

Our transportation would be the I.C.E. International, a high-speed train that would take us from Rotterdam to Berlin in less than 8 hours. Time to see a little bit of the nice scenery of this part of Europe, and to spend quality time with a great man of God. During this weekend I was able to apply the early lessons, imparted in me by my leaders of the Urban Training Center; “Listen and learn!”

“You don’t learn anything from what comes out of your own mouth.”

In moments like these, it is better to be quiet and to let your ears do the work. Listening to the stories about the early years of Victory Outreach, how a small ministry became a world wide movement. To learn and draw wisdom from a man with over 30 years of experience, and to see ‘Lifestyle Evangelism’ in full effect. I have noticed that men like Evangelist Mando don’t do things just to do them, but they are intentional in everything they do.

“Look at the faces, of the people and see”, would Mando say repeatedly, to make me aware of the story their facial expression may tell me about there lives. When people would pass us by and look toward him, Mando would give them a friendly smile and at times say a few words. “We are showing Jesus to them, by doing so”, would he explain to me. Mando was looking for any opportunity to introduce Christ to anybody who would cross his path. It reminded me of the words of St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words”.

As we arrived in Berlin and exited the ‘Haupt Bahnhof’ we walked into a young man, a drug addict for 10 years. No longer shooting heroin as he told us, but now it was methadone. There Mando witnessed and prayed for him, we were finally in Berlin and God reminded us immediately that these are the people we are called to reach, with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

IMG_3106Mando & Ruud witnessing to a drug addict

We would have many more of these encounters during our stay in Berlin. On the ‘Leopoldplatz’ for example we went out to evangelize among the drug addicts and alcoholics. This square is full with lost souls, hurting men and women without hope. We were able to witness to many of them who were in despair. Some of them acknowledged their situation, but their fear was the pain that comes with ‘kicking the habit’. They were amazed by the testimonies of the men and women from our Christian Recovery Homes, whom God delivered miraculously from their addiction. With unbelief in their eyes they listened to the many examples of God’s healing and delivering power, and with hope in their voices they would ask us to tell them more. We told them how it all started with Pastor Sonny Arguinzoni, Sr, and that it is still happening all over the world. We believe God, as the team in Berlin continues to witness to this group on the ‘Leopoldplatz’ and others, that many of them will experience the same power within their lives.

IMG_3135‘Leopoldplatz’

Berlin is a city with the potential for more than one Victory Outreach Church in the future. The Church in Berlin is still young and the task ahead might even seem to be overwhelming, but with God the impossible becomes possible. The congregation might be small, but is already International: Poland, Philippines, Holland, Pakistan, Suriname and more countries are represented here and with the right strategy Berlin can be the home of a base, a launching path for the rest of Europe to dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.

“The reason so many people never get anywhere in life is because when opportunity knocks, they are out in the backyard looking for four-leaf clovers” -Walter P. Chrysler

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