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From Brussels to Paris and beyond

Who are you?

We are Matthieu and Christella. We have three little kids and a prayer room with a map of Brussels. This is the best place in town to pray for the city continuously, to have a feeling for the people living there, and to get ideas about how to engage them.

We are Pierre-François and Fernanda. We are pretty young Christians, and we have just moved to a new neighborhood south of Brussels. When you join us reaching out to the people here, you can recognize Pierre-Francois by his impeccable self-tailored suits.

We are also Rémy and Joëlle, longing to see Christian musicians find their voice in Brussels and spread the Word. On stage, Rémy is amazing. Joëlle, 100% Catalan and 100% Belgian, is back in Brussels after a few years working for the UN on conflict resolution in the Congo. Read the Bible with her next time you meet her―you’ll definitely discover new stuff.

And there are more of us.

What do you want to see?

Brussels is where our hearts beat. There are so many different neighborhoods with so many different people. We want to see a growing network of communities in Brussels. When we talk about communities, we talk about followers of Christ who decide to share life together, so that their neighbors can experience and accept the love of God.

But our vision has outgrown the city. Trying to reach Brussels without also having the vision to train people to start communities wherever they will go in the future does not live up to Acts 1:8. And they will go all over the world, because they come from all over the world.

For example, Emma will move to Paris in September to marry Nathan. So of course, that’s where we will go as well. She, as well as a few others among us, senses that this is where God is sending us next. Steffen, a friend from Germany who lives in Paris is already reaching out there.

And that’s just the beginning.

How did you get this Idea?

The vision to reach Brussels was there right from the start.

Originally, we were a traditional church with two full-time pastors and a pretty nice Sunday service. Christians who moved to Brussels liked the atmosphere of friendship among us. That’s why we even saw some growth. From time to time the people from church invited their non-Christian friends. They usually came once and that was it. We just didn’t know how to engage people outside Christian meetings. That’s how we knew we had to mess around with the church.

We had already set aside one Sunday a month for people to do outreach, when Christel, one of our key leaders, organized a meeting with a German and a Dutch brother. After almost two hours, one of them said:
“I’m really sorry, but I hear God saying that you should stop raising money for yourselves. If you want to see a church-planting movement all over Belgium and the French-speaking world, you first have to model how everyday people can disciple others without being full-time pastors.”

That was an awkward moment! But almost exactly one year later, we all met up again because we knew that God really had spoken. So our full-time pastors went back to working normal jobs. We emphasized outreach, saw some baptisms, and started the first fellowships. Most importantly, we got a new perspective on discipleship: there are opportunities everywhere!

What challenges do you expect?

Roughly 25% of Brussels’ population has a Muslim background. We have been sharing the Good News with them, but we would welcome help from anyone with experience in that area.

Also pretty new for us is going to new cities and starting from scratch! Paris is less than two hours by train from Brussels, but it’s the first time we deliberately started something at a distance like this.

In the future, we want to have exactly the right people, for the right tasks, coming part- or full-time with money; we put together ourselves to lead the apostolic work forward. For that, we will need help as well.

What are you going to do?

Regularly pray together and do prayer walks in new neighborhoods in Brussels, asking God to lead the way and open doors.
Creatively reach out to new people with live music, good conversations around good meals, Bible discussion groups, Alpha courses, and plain old street evangelism.
Use the connections to France that God has already prepared to reach out and build new relationships.

published in June 2020