The following is a reflection from CBF field personnel Mary Van Rheenen, who serves alongside her husband Keith Holmes, as a resource coordinator for Romany people and those working with Romany throughout Europe. You can learn more about and support their ministries at www.cbf.net/holmes.
Did you know God can work through cigarettes? I surely didn’t.
Last Saturday it was my turn to do yardwork around the church building in Arnhem. A fellowship of mainly immigrants meets in the building on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. One of the Christian sisters who was waiting for the service to start came out for a cigarette break as I was finishing up. Otherwise, we would never have gotten into a conversation. She’s originally from Curacao, and in the summer of 2019, Keith and I spent two months in Curacao recording the New Testament in this lady’s native language, Papiamentu.
She knew nothing about the recording, but when Keith arrived on the scene, he showed her how to find it on Internet. (The audio recording has been put into a video of the Gospel of Mark.) She was amazed and delighted to see it. “I’m going to look at that at home!” she said. “I’m going to watch it with my children!”
I’m not saying God wants people to smoke cigarettes. But God can use even a nicotine addiction for good. Hallelujah!
Papiamentu-speakers have been on my mind a lot recently, partly because this time last year, Keith and I were there, deep into the recording process and partly because the island of Curacao has been on the Dutch national news. Curacao is part of the Dutch Antilles and a large chunk of their economy depends on the tourist trade. They have been hard-hit by the Coronavirus pandemic, leading to unrest and requests for additional aid from the Dutch government.
All of this—the cigarette-smoking sister in Christ as well as the news reports—has prompted me to act on a nudge I felt earlier.
Throughout the summer of 2020, Keith and I had been working remotely with two interns via CBF’s Student.Go program. Isaac Pittman and Marshall Ellis have been helping us make videos of DAVAR: Bridging to Literacy games. We are looking for people in other parts of the world to make videos of these games, too. Some of the educators we met in Curacao naturally came to mind. We hope one or more of them will help with a field trial of Davar games plus videos or photos of people playing those games. We’re prayerfully waiting for a response from our contacts in the Bible Society there.
We’re also prayerfully making more Davar videos. Our summer interns, Isaac and Marshall, were a big help in sorting out how to make those videos. We hope to post completed videos on YouTube soon.
You can help. You can preview completed videos as they are posted and send us feedback. It is even more helpful if you can try out the games on the videos and send us a photo or two as well as feedback. We are hoping to have many different people from many different parts of the world on these videos. You can offer to do a field trial of Davar games with five or more people. You can pray with us as we work through this project. Contact us if you feel led to help in any of these ways. We are praying for additional photos and field trials.
Thank you for those of you who volunteered to pray while we worked with these two summer interns. Thank you for those of you who support this work financially through CBF’s Offering for Global Missions as well as our own programming fund. And thank you for creatively working so many things for good—even something as seemingly negative as a Christian sister’s nicotine addiction.