Belgium church plant making impression in secularized community

Belgium church plant making impression in secularized community

by
Sarah Norris for Eurasia Region Church of the Nazarene
| 08 May 2024
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Belgium Holy Club story

It’s Sunday evening at a community center in Mechelen, Belgium, and volunteers are laying out tea, juice, and cherry pie. Visitors trickle in, grabbing a chair and a cup of coffee.

As everyone settles, Nici Overduin opens her Bible and reads from the Gospel of John, asking the room a question: “Who are you in this passage?”

While visitors reflect silently, Overduin sings a song and then says a prayer. Next, Pastor Stephan Overduin begins a conversation about the passage. Questions are encouraged as the group digs into the foundational scripture.

Welcome to Holy Club. Volunteers travel 80 kilometers from the Netherlands to the Church of the Nazarene in Breda twice a month — once for a traditional Sunday service in the city center and once to connect on a deeper level through Holy Club.

These are the beginnings of something new for the Church of the Nazarene in Belgium, which became an official world area of the denomination in February.

In 2022, while pastoring the church in Breda, Stephan began asking questions about entering Belgium, a place that had been on his heart and in his prayers. He knew it would require persistence, een lange adem in Dutch, meaning a long breath.

“Reaching the unreached is a very difficult task in Belgium,” Stephan says. “People say it’s like plowing through syrup. You look behind, and nothing happened. You’re in a deeply secular culture.”

Stephan met with district leadership and a Nazarene living in Mechelen to explore the potential of a church plant. With approval from leadership, Stephan next approached the Breda congregation. Immediately, a handful of people stepped forward and committed to join in.

“There was no hesitation,” Stephan recalls of the response. “‘If you’re going to do this, we want to be involved,’ volunteers said.”

In spring 2023, the tiny team launched a trial series of services in Mechelen’s city center, renting space inside a 360-year-old Catholic church. The location is perfectly poised for community interaction, wedged into a street filled with brasseries, optical shops, and an H&M.

“It’s a beautiful location,” Stephan says. “People accidentally walk in when coming to view the church. You can walk right out on the street and talk to people.”

The response has been small but mighty.

“I can’t say we have numbers, but I do feel there is depth,” Stephan says, noting that those who attend services or Holy Club have expressed a genuine curiosity about Jesus and a hunger for getting to know him.

Stephan believes that things are bustling just beneath the surface in the hearts of locals.

“God is busy with all these people in the city,” he says. He prays that the Holy Spirit would continue to work and move “and that we as Christians will be connected to this movement, find the right relationships, and be able to minister and share God.”

Stephan believes visitors view the Holy Club as a space to share their perspectives, a space where they can hold those perspectives up against Scripture and discover a fuller picture of who God truly is.

“Be clear that God is at work here,” Stephan says. “Everyone involved feels that there is this longing, the Holy Spirit is at work… We hope that we may be part of some spiritual awakening here. But we do it because God’s Spirit compels us.”

He adds that the road ahead is unclear, but the band of believers knows who to trust for guidance and direction.

“It’s a little bit driving in the mist,” Stephan says. “You don’t know exactly where you’re going, but you follow those lights in front of you. God is the light.”

--Church of the Nazarene Eurasia Region

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