Good morning everybody. I have been asked to write a column for you, and I’ve done so. The task ahead of me was quite difficult since the topic of this column is about the seemingly never ending decrease of Christianity in our country. The ‘Evangelische Omroep’ used the headline: “The Netherland have lost God” to announce the results of the report ‘God in Nederland’, which is carried out every ten years. For the first time, there are more unbelievers than believers in our country. That is, when we count all of those who call themselves spiritual with the believers as well. A majority of Dutch people think that religion should have no place in politics at all. However shocking this all may be, there are also other developments. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other cities, migrant churches are booming. And although less young people attend church services and other activities, they do tend to embrace orthodoxy, even more often than their parents. In other words, they want a ‘real faith’. Our youth does want to attend Bible lessons etc. if they truly learn something. I’ve had some experience in youth work now, and I’ve observed that the more profound Bible studies become, the more youth will attend and actively participate. They still can be triggered (in the positive sense of the word). And therefore we need to do everything we can to pass the Word of God on to the next generation. We shouldn’t be hiding in caves. And did Jesus not say that He would not come back before the whole world would have heard of Him (Matthew 24:14)? We as Christians get more work to do every day!
Sadly, it seems that the church slowly but steadily loses the radicalism of its original message, namely the message of faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We may have more work to do, but we must make sure that we clearly have the goal in mind. No work is done without bearing in mind the ultimate goal. When we try to share the Gospel, we should do so with the ultimate goal that people believe in Jesus and repent. Only when we keep in mind that the Gospel is the message of salvation for whoever believes in Christ, we make a slight chance to turn the tide. Why do I say slight? Because the Bible tells us that there will be a Great Apostasy in the last days before Jesus comes. We may very well live in those days; we do not know.
Of course, I do not want to end on this sad note. I hope that we all have a good year, but may this message sharpen us.
– Elis de Waard, held at the opening of the academic year of the PthU, Amsterdam.