Providence in Brussels

CompassGlobal’s Executive Director Rick Pierson’s current series of posts reflects on his trip to Belgium just this last September. This past week we received a visit from Olivier Jonkers, one of our supported Global Partners in Belgium. Olivier and his wife Karin are Belgian nationals, and serve with Reach Global planting churches in Brussels. Evangelism and church planting is a challenging task in Belgium, where according to Operation World, the population is only 1.2 % Evangelical/Pentecostal.

Late in 2013 their small congregation received abrupt notice that they could no longer use the facilities that they had been renting for meetings. However, this forced move helped them to determine that the city of Nivelles, just outside of Brussels, was an even better location. It is not only central for their members, but it is a city with no Christ-centered church.


The beautiful city of Nivelles

The beautiful city of Nivelles

Over the next 8 months, many doors were opening for the congregation to rent a building in Nivelles. It was an exciting season of seeing God move. Yet at the very last minute, everything fell through. Though deeply discouraging, the roadblocks drove the congregation to prayer and cling to the faithfulness of God. They were being reminded that their focus was to be on people needing God, not bricks. In spite of the challenges, their congregation became even more unified with the resolve to reach people for Jesus Christ. Their home groups continued to grow, baptisms multiplied, and care for the poor became real.

In later weeks, they learned that the building they had hoped to rent, used to be called Le Phare (The Lighthouse) in the 1920’s. Le Phare is the name of their church! Recently they have felt called to pursue not just renting the building again, but purchasing it! And despite the challenges of the last year that may cause them to shrink back from such an endeavor, they are stepping out in faith once again. In the mean time, they have rented a small store front only a few buildings down the street. Named “Le Puits” (The Well) , the church has made it a place for outreach to the community.

Welcome to Le Puits!

Welcome to Le Puits!

I wish everyone could have participated in our meeting with Olivier. It was faith building to hear and see God’s hand at work both in the good times and in times of trials. It was inspiring to observe the sacrificial faith of the congregation of Le Phare and the Jonkers family. Please pray for the Jonkers, for Le Phare church, for the city of Nivelles, and for Belgium!

Christ is Coming… Are you Ready?

Mark Twain’s collection of essays on “Christian Science” prompted a lot of discussion in my family. Up to that point, we had never thought to think about whether what we believed was true or not.

Samuel Clemens, an agnostic at best, probably never anticipated that his treatise would be “borrowed” from the Peoria, Illinois public library some 100 years later by a family who just assumed that it would be a good read about the religion they followed.

Instead, his wit, humor and hostility toward Mary Baker Eddy opened a doorway to us that we had never explored before.


Soon after the Twain discussions, a large outdoor advertising board was built along the highway near our home. We passed by it everyday. It contained a simple message: “Christ is Coming…Are You Ready?” Behind the print were ominous clouds…but no other words…there was no church or organization listed.

I remember asking my dad what it meant. He didn’t know. The “Christ is Coming” part of the message didn’t sound so bad…it was the “Are You Ready?” part that was a bit unnerving. Ready for what?

Twain and the billboard eventually led me to read the Bible for the first time apart from the “Science and Health”. I read though the gospel accounts over the course of a few days. Lights turned on.


Jesus Christ revealed Himself to me through His Word…I’ve never looked back. Funny thing…after my family and myself placed our trust in Jesus as our Savior…a storm blew that sign completely over…it never was repaired.

Maybe it was there just for us?

Christian Science

The first article in this blog series was originally posted only in part. The full version is now available.

Standing in the Nave at the Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude in Nivelles, Belgium (see previous post), looking at the isolated figure of “God on the cross”, thinking of my deserved place directly alongside…brought me back to my journey toward Him.

I was raised as a Christian Scientist. I was actually proud of it…not so much for what I was taught or what I thought I believed…but more so for the mystery and prestige of it.

None of my friends had heard of Christian Science..they thought being a “scientist” was cool as I explained it to them. After all, how could it not be for one to believe that there is no sin, sickness, disease or death?

But it took me far away from God…even though we talked about God all the time.


While I won’t get into the details of what Christian Science believes, I was brought up to read the Bible (King James Version) and “The Science and Heath with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy”. The books pictured above are the set that I have had since I was very young.

I was taught never to read the Bible by itself without reading the Science and Health. After all…contained in it was the “key” to the Scriptures. It unlocks the truth of the Bible…

…but actually…it kept me from seeing truth.


Anything that was read in the Bible did not take on literal meaning. The extensive “glossary” reveals what names and words in the Bible “actually” mean. So was Jesus God in flesh? No…He is the “highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, rebuking and destroying error and bringing to light man’s immortality.”

That’s what I thought about Jesus


Thankfully, He didn’t have a misunderstanding of me! And while I was hardly aware of it at the time, the providence of God was at work. He was pulling me toward Him…clearing away the rough places…making them a plain…so I could walk toward Him.

Of all things, He dropped a book by Mark Twain into my life. My mother had “borrowed” it from the Peoria Public Library (she didn’t have a library card). But it was that book that paved the initial pathway…that caused me and my family to question Christian Science for the very first time. Twain’s wit and first hand personal knowledge of Mary Baker Eddy, prompted us to search for the truth.

Funny how God works. As much as we sometimes lament over the darkness of the world…as much as I thought about the challenge to plant churches in Europe…

…God is at work…even in some of the most unconventional ways.

Providence… criminals… miracles… and me

Our current message series is exploring the topic of the providence of God out of the Book of Ruth. It got me thinking about how God orchestrates millions of details and circumstances together each and every day to achieve His plans and purposes…which is nothing short of miraculous.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more my mind has drifted toward the miracle that happened in my own life in 1973. That was the year I placed my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I know that the word “miraculous” is normally not used when referring to someone becoming a Christ follower…but why not? Life transformation is a miracle.

In my next several posts, I want to share with you my story…it has to do with providence, criminals, miracles and me.

This past September, while visiting one of our church planting partners in Europe, I snapped the below photo in the Nave at the Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude in Nivelles, Walloon Brabant, Belgium just outside of Brussels. This 11th century church stands in the heart of this quaint community of 28,000. It’s hard to miss the intended central focal point as you enter the room. It…He…definitely gets your attention.


I stood there awhile taking in the solitude and solemnity of the place. The biblical accounts of Christ’s death on the cross began running through my mind.

Luke’s gospel account tells us, “And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.” (Luke 23:33)

Criminals were crucified with Him?

Sometimes we forget about these two men. Understandably so…given the centrality of the cross of Christ to our faith. We don’t often see them included next to Jesus in paintings or in sculpted images. But they’re not insignificant.

The gospel accounts do not provide a lot of information about them…but Luke records a brief, fascinating exchange between the two of them:

“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.
And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'” (Luke 23:39-43)

I think about how fortunate these criminals were. They actually were pretty “lucky”. Do you think being crucified next to the Savior, the hope of the world was accidental…merely happenstance…or was God about to do something amazing in one of their lives?

My vote is for the amazing. This momentary, albeit dramatic, experience had massive eternal implications. One day either side of this particular day…opportunity lost.


One saw it, the other didn’t. One responded in humble submission. The other in vile contempt. So then there’s me…you. Condemned criminals convicted justly before a righteous judge of high crimes. Sentenced to death.

I was stirred anew over my journey to the cross during my time in Europe.