While we enjoy living in the heart of the city of Amsterdam sometimes our brains and bodies need a little bit of green. According to an article in National Geographic, being exposed to nature makes us healthier, happier and smarter. That is why we love taking a break from the craziness of city life and get some family time in the woods or the mountains. This summer we were blessed to be able to stay in a cabin in the mountains of Switzerland. One night, as we were looking up to the stars, dreaming about other beautiful places in Europe, Rianne and I started talking about Slovenia and couldn’t stop thinking about it for the next few days. We felt that it wasn’t just because we were craving nature and had heard these stories about the beauty of this nation, but we felt that this might be something that God is putting on our hearts and were wondering what to do next.
Once we were back in Amsterdam we tried to do some research about Slovenia and what is going on in this nation. It turned out that there’s no YWAM presence in Slovenia and in fact it looked like there aren’t even that many churches or any other Christian presence. We tried to find some ways to start talking to people that are either Slovenians, internationals living in Slovenia or others who could tell us more about how to pray for this nation. Meanwhile we started praying that God would make himself known to the people in Slovenia and that they would have an encounter with the love of Christ.
In the next few weeks God increased the momentum rapidly and we found ourselves talking to several different parties that were sharing similar experiences: we all felt lead to start praying for Slovenia quite unexpectedly and an expectancy was growing in our hearts that God would do something remarkable there. While we were talking mostly through digital channels, we realised that a number of us were all going to be at this large YWAM gathering in Kansas City the next week, and we decided to grab a lunch together so that we could talk in person and get some time to pray together. If you ever wonder what all those international gatherings are for, those are the moments that it definitely dawns upon me that it’s worth spending a couple bucks in order to get connected and strategise to mobilise missionaries into places that have yet to be touched.
We sat down for a lunch underneath a tree that would provide us some shade in the September heat of Kansas City and as the conversation developed, there was such an increasing sense that God was saying “it is time for Slovenia.” He is about to do something significant there and he is inviting us to be a part of it! During this conversation I shared about our personal desire to go on an exploratory trip with our second daughter Loïs and go there to try to understand what God is already doing in Slovenia and how YWAM could possibly add a piece to the puzzle.
Since I get the privilege to travel a fair bit for the work that we do, we’ve always wanted to include the kids into that. We try to turn those times into opportunities to take some extra time together and make sure that we’re a part of each other’s lives, instead of being away from each other. I asked Loïs if she would come on this trip with me and she was so excited to join forces! Tuesday October 18 at 10pm we got off the plane at Ljubljana airport, picked up a rental car and arrived at our AirBnB at around 11pm.
The next few days were filled with incredible meetings with so many people that have been serving so faithfully and they helped us gain an understanding of both the beauty and the need of this nation. Even though it used to be known as a Catholic nation, there are very few that actually proclaim to even believe God is real. In a country with a population of 2 million people, there are only a few thousand believers. When that number was confirmed in several different conversations, I was moved to tears to think of how little access people have to the good news of Jesus Christ.
While in Slovenia we got to meet with the President’s office and present them an English copy of the Bible and The Book That Transforms Nations, with a greeting from us all at YWAM Amsterdam. Even though president Pahor was in Argentina at that moment, his representative was happy to receive the package and our greetings and they shared with us that they normally don’t receive gifts, but were very happy to be able to pass this on to the president. We pray that more than just a particular gift to one person this would be a prophetic act of seeing God’s word come to Slovenia in ways that it hasn’t seen before.
We came back from this trip with a strong sense that God is building the unity among his church in Slovenia and that there’s all these opportunities to reach out and make Jesus known in so many different ways.
And then there’s the big next question: ‘what are the next steps?’ We are considering how our short term DTS outreach teams from different bases in Western and Northern Europe could partner with the local church in Slovenia and how this could possibly result in planting a new pioneering team in Slovenia over time.
A verse that was quoted a lot in my different conversations in Slovenia was Luke 10:2. Some of our new friends even had this reminder on their phones at 10:02 every day to pray for workers in Slovenia. And so I just set a timer to do the same and join their prayers. Will you join us too?
“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”