Do You Know Your Neighborhood?

27 07 2013

By Johannes Egbert Gjaltema, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Providing meals is just one way a congregation in Rotterdam, Netherlands,  is helping the underprivileged of its community.

Providing meals is just one way a congregation in Rotterdam, Netherlands, is helping the underprivileged of its community.

Five years ago, I moved from a small village named Zwaagwesteinde, where everybody knows everybody, to the big city, Rotterdam. My job as a youth minister in the Western Europe Mission Center made me travel a lot, and for a long time I did not get to know the people near my apartment.

When I looked at problems in the world, it was as if I were using binoculars. But the problem with using binoculars is that you can miss things happening close by.

At that time the congregation in Rotterdam was meeting every week. People received ministry through music, preaching, and fellowship in church and elsewhere. Some members also helped with neighborhood activities. Two members who still play that key role are Aad and Truus Heijdenrijk. They have built relationships that benefit children now meeting in our church.

The local government has youth workers who organize activities on the playground next to the church. They set up sports, movies, dancing, karaoke, and they provide drinks and snacks. These hard-working youth workers know the children and their needs well.

They saw that some children wore the same clothes—even with torn fabric—every day. The youth workers would visit the families and help them to get clothes.

They also noticed that some children would take a sandwich to school. Because nobody was home after school, they would go to the playground and stay until 9:00 p.m.—without going home for a meal.

Now the youth workers are working with the church to provide meals. This is done in an educational way, teaching kids about hygiene, cooking, and measuring. We hope to expand the ministry from the current two times a week.

On average 10–15 children now have a healthy dinner in the church. We invite their parents, too, so families can have a meal together.

Our building is not up to date, but we offer a safe and caring place for people. We pursue Christ, through the Mission Initiatives. The cooking class is a direct result of Experience Congregations in Mission. Our efforts seek to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering. We Invite People to Christ when we reach out to others to join us.

Now I can see the world without binoculars.




One response

27 07 2013
Crystal Hazelwood

Thank you for sharing in detail this up to date humbling testimony of “sharing the love and peace of Christ” with our most precious commodity.

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