By Janée Angel
My husband Hary and I pastor a small, Arabic-speaking church. Hary has the evangelist’s heart, while I, Janée, have a teacher’s heart. We use those passions as best as we can to serve the Lord in the city of Antwerp and as far as Syria.
During our COVID years, unsurprisingly, we began to do a lot more things online. Though there were many disadvantages to not getting to minister with our friends in person, there was the unexpected blessing of meeting with Arabic-speaking people who live all over the world right here in our living room for daily prayer, Bible study, and counseling.
As an added bonus, the lockdown time, for many Syrians living in Europe, was a time to think more about their home country. This thinking led to a new mission start in the Netherlands: Mustard Seed Ministries. Suddenly, we had people from all over the world who were committed to giving 10 euros per month to provide support for Syrian ministers to work in Syria. It only takes about $230 to support a family for one month. This funding currently supports 10 full time ministers who began working among the Syrian people within the last 2 years.
In April, Hary made a trip to Syria to encourage those ministers and the church that has felt the hard aftershocks of grief and suffering that come with a prolonged war. The country is currently living in a post war reality, even though the war is not officially over. People are surviving on a salary of $30 per month and being asked to pay as much as $8 for one roasted chicken. Their spiritual and physical hunger is momentous. In Hary’s visit, he was able to introduce over 100 people to Jesus, and yet, still the needs of his country weigh heavily on his heart.
As Hary’s heart aches for the Syrians, my heart aches for the children here in Belgium who are growing up in a post-Christian world. Protestant Christians only make up 1% of this nation; most of those churches are so small that they don’t have enough workers to create a children’s program. Thus, in January, I began a monthly children’s club, which was subsequently named Kingdom Kids.
The focus is entirely on children and creating a safe place for them to play together, eat together, hear about Jesus, and sing and feel the love from about 10 volunteers who work with them each month. Between thirty and forty children from about ten different churches show up each time. It has been heartening to see a few of the Muslim children, who attend the school where we host the club, show up to hang out with their friends. Their joy has multiplied my own joy, as I have the opportunity to work with children again.
As March approached, our family made the decision to move…200 meters away. Why would we do something so crazy, you ask? Well, in 2018 we felt the Lord asking us to buy a large house to use as a church, and when God asks, we say yes. God provided a way for us to pay for that house in cash, as we emptied our savings and others, like you, gave generously to make that happen.
As a church, we met in that house for two years, but behind the scenes, I was battling the city for permits for Christian activity to take place on the site. Every time I thought I had met the requirements, they added something impossible…like how we had to provide seven parking spaces on our piece of property that is taken up entirely by the building. Impossible!
After two years, a city inspector came to close our doors. They cited me with two sets of criminal charges and told us we had to return this building into a single family home. After three years of battling, we felt cornered and the only way for the criminal charges to be dropped was for our family to move into our little church.
The police have already come to verify our move, and now we need to contact the city inspector to see if we can get the criminal charges removed from my name. In the meantime, we are now opening our large living room up to anyone who wants to pray, sing, or study the Bible. We rent a hall in the girls’ school for Sunday services at a wonderful price, and our old home is now a welcome house for those who need a temporary place to stay. In one month’s time, we have hosted people from both Egypt and Iraq. God truly works all things for good.
Please continue to pray for us in this process with the city. And pray that God gives us clear direction for the future and a vision of how to do the work of the kingdom in a post pandemic world. Thank you for all the many ways you have encouraged and supported us in this journey.
Janée Angel serves as a CBF field personnel in Antwerp, Belgium. Learn more about her ministry at www.cbf.net/angel.