Since I was a teenager, I somehow knew that God would guide my way differently than having a regular life with family and children. Today, looking back, I see so clearly how God has been preparing the way--step by step--for where I am at present.
After finishing my studies in Amsterdam, one of the components being Spanish language and culture, I went to Latin America to make a dream come true: working with street children in rehabilitation programs. In 2000, after almost 2 years, I went back to Holland, picking up the daily routine again, living and working in Amsterdam. Looking for a home church where I would fit in, I started to attend Crossroads Amsterdam (CA's second church plant) in 2001. It became my home church and I ended up serving there till 2008: joining and hosting weekly life-groups, participating in events and serving within the contact team to welcome new visitors.
In 2004 I left half a year to do a DTS with YWAM in Madrid, Spain. There my desire to be a missionary grew considerably. Coming back to Holland, I started to look for mission opportunities outside my country, initially with a focus on Latin America. In 2007, however, 2 friends from YWAM Madrid shared their vision with me about starting a new YWAM school in Valencia: doing discipleship, evangelism and mission trips with young people from local churches there. God opened my eyes for the spiritual poverty in my very own continent of Europe, becoming more and more a mission field itself.
As I had grown in love for Spain and it´s people over the years, the calling became stronger to be a missionary in that country and to join my friends in their mission. Crossroads Church approved my project proposal and they decided to support me financially as one of their missionaries. By the end of 2008, my Spanish friends and I moved as a team to Valencia.
After serving the local churches a few years, YWAM as a ministry came to an unexpected end, due to lack of resources, of team members, and other personal circumstances. During 2013 I came into a transition time that has been challenging for me along with questions to God about why He had called me to Spain, now that it seemed a dead-end and a ´what now?´ It was a time of intensively listening and waiting on God to show his direction and purpose for me in this city…
God confirmed my vision still to be the same: to see lives changed in Valencia by the power of the Gospel, through evangelism, discipleship and works of service. The opportunity arose to start Serve the City in Valencia (social and practical projects for volunteers to serve vulnerable groups in society), with the help from the STC Madrid team. However, it stayed low profile, due to lack of a team…
I continued to cry out to God for a team so I could continue to serve as a missionary in Valencia. And…..an answer came! In the meantime, Amy Swacina, our CA team leader, had visited Valencia, had contacted us as YWAM to inform us about her plans for a new church plant and the team that was in process of formation. Intrigued by the CA vision and the new church plant, I got in touch with CA and shared my situation. Then things started rolling from there, and fortunately, the team was happy to receive me as a new member! Today I am happy to say that I finally have found a place to serve as a missionary and a team where I feel I belong :-) !
Valencia is a beautiful city that I have come to rejoice over and where I enjoy living, but I also grieve over the city in different ways because I am observing a struggling society in decline of faith, Christian values, moral standard and hope. There is such a need of a new and fresh encounter with Jesus! On a personal level, there have been victories but also quite some struggles the past years (mainly in the area of ministry), but they have made me stronger in a sense. God has continued to build my character, especially in the area of patience and waiting on Him, as well as to more fully depend on Him, His ways (not mine) and His provision.
God made clear to me that I may consider this new phase in ministry as a continuation of the previous. I have been laying the foundations and have gained people´s trust, friendship and appreciation by being faithful and putting a lot of love in the small things of daily life and service. Now, please pray with us for a spiritual harvest of people coming to faith in Valencia and all across Spain!