Tag Archives: God

Back To The Writer’s Blog

About 9 months ago we became the pastors of VOConn and around that time I wrote my latest blog “The Promises of God.” Taking over a church is a good reason to stop blogging for a season, but after a while you start feeling that urge to pick up your pen and bring an end to that writer’s block. During the last months a lot has changed and happened, and in the next blogs I will try to share some of the things we’ve learned and experienced.

People have said that starting a church is easier than taking over a church. I have to admit, I wouldn’t really know cause I never started a church and this is the first time taking one over. What I do know is, that when you are about to do something you never done before, it is helpful to ask people who did, and were successful doing it. After doing some personal research, listening to advice, and experiences, I applied 3 things that helped me a lot during the transition.

  • Get to know the church

The first thing to do is getting to know the people, and allowing the people to get to know you. You do this by intentionally take every opportunity to spend time together. During those moments you will not only make memories and so creating part of your history, but it will also have a great deal of influence in how people will see the future of the church. In aiming for the future, we can not neglect nor ignore the past of the church and it’s members. The church’s condition today is a result of the past, and in knowing the history of the church we will have a better understanding of the present.

If the new leadership neglects the past, they might repeat the same mistakes that caused the existing problems in the first place, or they will stop the momentum that the church has, by not using the earlier successes they had. I have also seen that new leadership would ignore the past; you might as well tell the people you don’t care, cause that’s how they will feel. It becomes personal when we make them think that we don’t care about; the sacrifices they made, the tears they shed, the memories they have. Acknowledge and value the past, learn from the good, the bad and the ugly. Become “We” and prepare the people to move on towards their future, according to he original plan and purpose that God had from the beginning for the church.

  • Get to know the culture

The second thing we need to do is understanding the church’s culture. Culture either good or bad, has to be confronted carefully and wisely. We define culture by people’s beliefs, values, the way they think, talk, and do things. If the church’s culture is contradicting the gospel then it has to change, no doubt about it, but sometimes it simply challenges our own culture.

The developed culture within the church, is new for those that come in for the first time. Key is not to reject the culture by isolating yourself, in doing this you become an outsider, and outsiders don’t change a thing. Another form of rejection is trying to destroy the culture, making it look like everything about it is bad. You will become a foe to the people instead of their friend. People have the tendency to take it personal when you question their culture. It does not matter, how genuine your intentions are. Adopting to the culture seems very nobel, but is also not commendable, you will become somebody you’re not, and unable to bring healthy changes, because now you are part of the problem. The best thing to do is adapting to the new-found culture, by making the necessary  adjustments to become an insider, without compromising nor losing your identity. Only as an insider you can make the needed changes within the culture, and you do this by teaching and bringing understanding about the changes that have to be made.

  • Get to know the city

Finally the church’s city has to become your city. Get to know the city by studying its history. Discover your city by driving through it and to talk with its residents. In doing this I met some interesting people who truly care about their city, and like to partner with others that share the same feeling. Enjoy your city by what it has to offer instead of what it does not have. Care for it, love it and commit to it, and do not compare it with another city in a coveting way. You will start to see the potential more than the problems the city has. You can not change the city by yourself, even with the help of others it is almost impossible to change it in a life-time, but you can be part of it.

It’s has only been 9 months now, and we have many more ahead of us. During this time I believe we made some mistakes that made the transition rough at times. However overall it was a good and smooth transition, and we have to thank God for that, and the members of VOConn, the Church of Champions. An amazing group of people who accepted, and embraced us, and I know that together we will have a great future, reaching our city with the message of Christ.

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Filed under "I will build My church"

The Promises of God

Victory Outreach Church in Bridgeport, CT

A few months ago we went through a rough time during which I wrote the blog ‘What To Do Now!?!’ It was a season where my wife and I didn’t know what to do nor what would come next. It was a period where everything became uncertain, at times we even felt like giving up. The few thing we could hold on to were our relationship with God, each other, and the promises He had given us throughout the years. It was during this season that I once again wrote down His promises and reminded myself that He is faithful to all His promises.

It was during the Summer of 1992 -the year I gave my life to Jesus- when I received my first promise through Jeremiah 35: 7;

Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.

At first I did not know what to do with it, but eventually I came to the realization that God had called me to live like a nomad.

nomad: a member of a people who have no fixed residence but move from place to place usually seasonally and within a well-defined territory.

It would take 7 years before this scripture would start to make any sense, when in 1999 we were invited to the Urban Training Center , and the confirmation came through Genesis 12: 1;

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

In 2000 we left The Netherlands and for 10 years we were living as nomads in Los Angeles, CA and Bridgeport, CT we would travel through the US, visiting many cities and working with students from around the world. We loved living and serving God like this, but after a while the desire to settle grew within us. Our children became older and we understood that they needed more stability, and off course to have your own place to live was a nice idea too. It was during this time that we received another scripture found in Deuteronomy 6:10, 11;

When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant –

It would still take a couple of years before we saw this promise become a reality, and during the season of uncertainty we received a phone call out of the blue in which were asked to take the role of pastors of the Victory Outreach Church in the city of Bridgeport, CT. We see the faithfulness of God as we are now officially the pastors of this great Church that was founded in 1992 with an incredible congregation, who embraced us from day one. After 10 years of living in tent’s we received a ministry we did not  build, provide, dig, nor plant, but we can finally say we are home! We can’t wait to see what God wants to do through this church, but one thing we are certain of that He will give us promises… and they will come to pass.

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Spoken Word

Francisco ‘ENUF’ Garcia

Here is the Spoken Word by a young man from Phoenix, AZ currently enrolled in the West Coast UTC which he dedicated to us as we left Los Angeles to pastor the Victory Outreach Church in Bridgeport, CT.

The Call of Abram

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” – Genesis 12: 1

Da Cross Cultural Pastor— dutch and indonesian— migrated to a foreign country and region—

Prepared in and out of season,… many years of directing UTC —discipling and teaching.

You’ve traveled far like the 7 seas man…

No matter the cost or famine/ God provided you with heavenly manna.

God held you close in His hands/ The Word you examined scribed in your heart—  like the 10 commandments.//.

God called you, and you were ready// to do Gods will and be a missionary//

In America! Man, that’s scary//… He was your strength when the Cross was heavy.

Answering the call to the East Coast, is better than honey and sweet toast.

A Rotterdam immigrant bringing the flavor like cinammon.

An X-militant, now a soldier for Christ the most infinite.

Discipling all nations the great commission.

He’ not Tom Cruise, but he’s down for the mission.

It had to take many sacrifices/

You sold out to Christ, and that my friend was priceless./

We are young people lost in a dessert and you an ice chest//

Your children will be blessed in this land.

Cindy joined this godly man… to follow His will and all the plans.

9 years of raising UTC, and Victory Outreach leaders. To impact the ball game like Derek Jeter.

If you don’t like the Yankees well pray in the name of Jesus.

Now is the time to hit Bridgeport, Connecticut streetses. God bless you and your family, keep on preaching…

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Where will you be 5 years from today?

I love coffee, and every time I walk into a Starbucks (SB) to get a Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte, I have to take a look at their non-coffee merchandize. You never know what kind of deals you find, like those nice coffee mugs for half the price. I guess those are the Dutch genes in me; we like to hunt for cheap deals, and we have the unexplainable habit to collect. This particular time I visited my local SB at the University Village in Los Angeles, opposite of the USC campus, and I noticed a certain book. Actually it was the question on the cover of the book; “Where will you be five years from today?” that caught my attention.

While waiting in line I opened the book to get a better look at it. The first question on the cover had me already thinking, but on the following page I read challenging words. Right there and then, it seemed like those words were spoken to me personally.

This is your life, your one-and-only life. Over the next five years, what do you really want to do? What do you really want to have? What do you really want to be? Where do you really want to go? There are no rules here. This is not a work book, it’s a play book. This is not a “here’s how” book, it’s a “why not?” book. So be daring, be bold and true to yourself!

“This is a perfect book for Robert”, was my second thought (Robert is a young man that I have known now for over 6 years, he is on fire for Jesus, and intentional in serving God for the rest of his life). With my regular order of TSVL, I bought a book for him, and of course one copy for myself. The next few weeks I drove to several SB locations to pick up an additional 5 copies to give away to men that play a very instrumental role in my personal life. If you find something good, make sure you share it.

This book has become my ‘play book’, I read it together with the Bible as a devotional ‘side kick’. I put notes, quotes, thoughts, pictures, dreams, and promises in it. But the most important thing I put on the first pages was Matthew 6:33; “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” and Proverbs 16:3; “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

I want my life to be a journey, that turns into an adventure, which will become a mission; I desire to reach my full potential, to live a life of significance, to reach my destiny, to become all God wants me to be.

I hope you find yourself a copy and get one or more for those special people within your live, God Bless and Bon Voyage for the next 5 years of the rest of your life…

Note! This is a revised version from my blog ‘Where will you be 5 years from today?’ (December 30, 2008)

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“…this happens to be my seat!”

A few centuries ago when Christians came together to worship, people would stand during the service. The pews came later, and were either rented or purchased by church members. Pews were considered private property, and some people enclosed them in so-called pew boxes, or they created pews that looked different from the other pew sections in the church building. The purchase or rental of pews created an atmosphere of exclusiveness, even causing a conflict within the Methodist Episcopal Church, as in the case of B. T. Roberts.

It is funny to see how territorial we still can get when it comes to the seating in our local churches. Some people claim ownership by putting their Bible, jacket, purse, pamphlet, or any other available item on a seat, whereby others actually think that an invisible sign marks the chair to show that this is their ‘place of honor’. We get requests from the habitual latecomer to save them a seat, or we are sitting comfortable in a pew, and someone tells us nicely, but firm; “…this happens to be my seat!”

I understand that going back to seat less services is not an option, and that most of us are not familiar with the pew deeds as they were in the 1800’s. However at times it’s good to hear that the P.E.W.S. are not just there so we can sit as comfortable as possible, but that they are a reminder of the true reasons we meet as the Church.

  • Prayer; We come together to pray for others, each other, ourself, and to pursue our relationship with God (Matthew 6:9-13).
  • Evangelism; We come together to hear The Great Commission, and our responsibility as the Church towards this world (Matthew 28:19, 20).
  • Sacrificial Love; We come together be reminded that we are called to love each other as He commanded us, and to put it into practice (1 John 3:11-24).

Let’s say more often“…this happens to be your seat.”

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Momentum (part 3)

momentum3

When a person is completely saturated and over-full with a vision, others will surely notice it. Unfortunately some people with a vision are like the open valve of a fire hydrant on a hot summer day in New York City. Their vision comes out uncontrolled, sharing the refreshing and energizing substance with whomever gets close enough, but will receive it with their own agenda. Leaders however are different, they want to make sure the vision is intentional shared with those that can help them attain it; with people that stick around.

One of my best moves is to surround myself with friends who, instead of asking, “Why?” are quick to say, “Why not?” That attitude is contagious. – Oprah Winfrey

We obtain momentum (Momentum part 1) by receiving a vision from God, momentum (Momentum part 2) is gained whenever an individual steps out to make the vision a reality, and lastly momentum is maintained when others are included in the vision and the vision is caught.

  • A Leader Transmits the Vision

Nehemiah 2:17 ‘Then I said to them:”

Nehemiah approached the key influencers, and shared four ingredients of vision;

  1. the Purpose (vs. 17a): Whenever a God given vision is shared it always comes with a clear purpose and a picture that is bigger than self, plus one. Momentum will slow down, when the purpose becomes unclear or the vision gets as small as one individual.
  2. with Passion (vs. 17b): Passionate people are contagious, but especially when it is a combination of compassion and an inward drive to do something about a situation or problem personally. Why would people move, if the leader is not moved?
  3. with Power (vs. 18): Nehemiah shared with the people that he received permission from God and the king, which represents authority. You can never be an authority if you are not under authority.
  4. having a Plan (Neh. 3): In order to be successful it is crucial to have a strategy to fulfill the vision. With a plan everybody knows the hard work that needs to be done, without a plan everybody just works hard.  The last will demotivate the workers eventually, and if no action is taken it will cause the momentum to slow down even to the point of coming to a final stop.

And last but not least, momentum ends were it started; with God.

  • Continue to Rely on God

Nehemiah 2:20 “The God of heaven will give us success.”

The beginning of failure is the moment when the momentum leaves a trail of success, and we start relying on self. Ego will become the only thing we have eyes for, when we loose sight of God.

Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren. Deut. 6: 9

make sure you don’t forget how you got there. – Deut. 6:12a

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A Weekend in Heerlen

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Pastor Devid and Ruth Fecunda

This month Cindy and myself had the privilege to minister a weekend in Heerlen at the Victory Outreach Church. The pastors of VO Heerlen Devid and Ruth Fecunda are a visionary couple with 3 beautiful and energetic daughters. The church has great potential, it is a young adult church with very talented and anointed members. The congregation is a unique mixture of many nations and different languages. While we ministered translation was simultaneous taken place in Dutch and Spanish, and we met people from Belgium, Indonesia, Korea, Curaçao, Poland, Rwanda, Burundi and the US.

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The VO Heerlen Team

In 2001 the city Heerlen came in the news because of ‘Operation Hartslag’ (Operation Heartbeat). A campaign the city started because of the many problems they faced; prostitution, dealers, runners, drug tourists and addicts. The city received many rewards for her approach, but I believe that in the mean while God was preparing this great couple to catch His Heartbeat for the city. Where the city re-located, regulated and even tolerated the problems, God sent His son Jesus Christ to solve the problems, and bring hope and salvation to hurting people.

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A ‘crack house’ in Heerlen

Pastor Devid understands that Heerlen is a strategic city. Recently they started a church in Maastricht, a mayor city 21 minutes from Heerlen. There is not only vision for Holland but also for Aachen, Germany which is only 21 minutes, and Liège, Belgium 41 minutes away by car. By building a base in Heerlen he believes that they can become a launching pad for churches throughout Europe.

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Aachen, Germany

During our stay in Heerlen we had a great time, we enjoyed the fellowship we had, the friendships we made and were truly blessed by the hospitality of the people. Victory Outreach Heerlen has captured a place in our heart and we can’t wait to see what God will do in the future in and through the people of VO Heerlen.

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