Abroad with God
Please join me on my journey ‘Abroad with God’. I am writing from the IBC library: surrounded by lush, green fields and wild, Irish skies. This ‘wee’ college has become my home, away from home. The first few weeks left me with a weary head from intense classes and a heart brimming with the college motto: Domine Sequor [Lord, I follow]. The first few months taught me that studying theology also means that my life is being moulded by the Potter’s hand. That hurts! Still, I will have it no other way. God allows me to learn life-lessons while at Bible College, and while in His hands, this is the best place to be!
But how did a Dutchman end up in Moira?
I was born and raised in the Netherlands and grew up in a family that loves the Lord. My parents modelled a life of dependence upon God; grace and forgiveness were demonstrated in my sister’s life, and my brother and his wife showed unshakable faith in God through life’s trials. This is the background that allowed me to take the step of faith and come to study as an international student at IBC.
At the age of 13, I publicly testified to Christ being my Lord and Saviour and was baptised by my father in my grandparents’ church. In my final year of A-levels, I realised that following Christ had to have an impact on my life-decisions. One evening, whilst browsing on YouTube, I came across the sermon ‘Don’t waste your life’ by Pastor John Piper, which left me in tears after I heard it. At that time, I also read a testimony of a girl on board OM’s book-ship Logos Hope, which deeply moved me. I did not have a vision for missions or a call for evangelism, but from that moment on I knew that in whatever I do, God calls me to serve Him with my life. I also knew that one step of this journey would be for two years on board Logos Hope. Upon graduating from high school, I joined the ship and served as a missionary with OM (Operation Mobilisation) for two years - visiting different ports in Southeast Asia. On board God taught me to trust him, gave me a heart for the lost and trained my hands for battle. I have seen the Lord of Hosts work in amazing ways - opening doors that seemed to be closed and paving a road for his truth in the midst of the desert. Through this, God formed my character. The words of Psalm 32:8 have been my life-verse ever since: ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.’
Back home in the Netherlands, I went on to study Water Management for four years, served as a youth leader in church and joined the Navigators international student ministry at university.
This time last year, I applied for a Master’s in Disaster Risk Management at Lund University, Sweden, and was accepted. It was in this process that my brother asked me the question: ‘Are you sure? Are you sure that this is the next step?’ Sure, it was a logical step to pursue my Master’s, but was it also what God wanted me to do? I could not answer ‘Yes’ to that question. It brought me back to my desire for missions, youth work at church, and ministering God’s Word in whatever form. I knew that if this is my life’s calling, then I should also prepare for it. I needed to be firmly grounded in Scripture. But why in Northern Ireland?
I wanted to study in a place where they take the Bible seriously. I wanted to study in an environment where academic study is accompanied by faithfulness to Scripture. I wanted to be taught by lecturers who not only love their subject but also love their Creator. I found this at IBC. A friend from Logos Hope, who happened to be a former IBC student, gave the College a great reference and that is how I became a first-year again last September.
Living in college accommodation, I realise again what a blessing it is to be living and studying with friends who are also brothers and sisters in Christ while being challenged in the classroom, having fun around the dinner table and exploring the rugged beauty of the Emerald Isle. I thank my Father for this season in life.