KATY BRINK | GUEST
Three official languages in a country the size of Maryland. Two official languages in the capital city which boasts well over half its residents being of foreign origin. Where in the world are we?
Being one of the most international cities in the world, the “culture” of Brussels could be described as a wacky, delightful hodge-podge of countries with definite Belgian flavors mixed in. Multiple languages swirl through the air as I walk the streets, running my errands, feeling in good company as a foreigner here. You don’t have to spend much time here to realize that the nations have come to Brussels.
The Bible often speaks of the gospel going forth to the nations and emphasizes the reality that God’s Church includes people from every tribe, tongue, and people group. Living in an international city and participating in the life of the local church here has given me a small window into what that mixture could look like, offering a vivid foretaste of the glorious heavenly hodge-podge to come.
God Builds His Church
We moved here several years ago with the long-term goal of church-planting, though without knowing exactly when and how that desire would come to fruition. We spent years engaged in valuable learning, waiting, and networking, knowing that if the Lord wanted us involved in planting a church, he would orchestrate the details.
Fast forward to 2022. We had made a connection with a likeminded Belgian pastor who was interested in the idea of church-planting, and the details started to fall into place for him to join our planting team. We began to make plans and had a particular timeline in mind, but God in his mysterious yet always perfect timing, seemed to take our timeline and speed it up. I’ve laughed and told people that the launch of this church plant felt like God said, “wait, wait, keep waiting” for several years and then suddenly said, “go NOW.”
In early 2023 our church plant began meeting for weekly worship. We knew of several interested people, but we were not sure how that category of interested people would translate into weekly worship attendance. Numbers do not tell the whole story and should not be used to measure the success of a church plant, especially in the early stages. But having folks actually show up on Sundays is admittedly encouraging! But in all seriousness, over these first months we’ve been reminded that we serve a God who has been at work for all of eternity and that we are merely imperfect instruments in his mighty hands. Some people coming to the church have told us that they’ve been praying for a church like this in Brussels for many years. Others have said how attractive and powerful they find the Biblical preaching and theologically rich songs. God’s Word goes forth and promises not to return void.
God Sanctifies His People
In all honesty, it can all seem very ordinary sometimes: setting up chairs, hooking up speakers, making tea and coffee, and printing bulletins. It’s easy to lose sight of the One who is at work. But sometimes – not in a moment of self-promotion or a streak of self-congratulation but rather in a Spirit-granted posture of humble worship to the head and cornerstone of the Church – I look up and realize that God has done and is doing a mighty work before my very eyes. He’s at work regardless of what happens with this particular church plant or how many people are coming one year from now. His work transcends my earthly perspective and extends beyond my temporal purview. And I can assure you that the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification in my own heart has taken on new dimensions in the last few months: the work going on in me far surpasses anything happening through me.
Maybe you find yourself discouraged today about a certain situation in your life. Perhaps you thought God would have acted sooner or differently. Or maybe you are struggling to find joy in the mundane faithfulness. Let this reminder be an encouragement to you (and me) this day: God is at work around the world, building his Church and sanctifying his people just as he promised he would. The ordinary life of obedience is never ordinary. In Psalm 3, David calls God his shield, his glory, and the lifter of his head. May God lift our heads and give us glimpses of his work in us, yes, but also around the world in his global Church, and may his promises encourage our hearts as we live our lives in his service wherever he has us.
Photo by Stephanie LeBlanc on Unsplash