Early Thursday morning, September 13, I was up to catch a plane to fly from Belfast to the Netherlands via London. Rev. Bart Elshout, my translator for my Netherlands’ itinerary (and also one of my best friends for the last forty-three years), was on hand to drive me directly to Arnemuiden (a two-hour trek), a suburb of Middelburg, where we had dinner with some good friends, Hans and Allette Pieterman, and their daughter Ruth. (Ruth has translated several of my books into Dutch.) That evening I spoke at Calvin College in Goes, in the province of Zeeland, on the sufferings of Christ in Gethsemane. I met a few distant relatives there, as well as a few relatives of one of our elders in Grand Rapids, Jacob Nijsse. By the time we made it back to Nellie Elshout’s home, it was well after midnight. (A sister of Rev. Elshout, Nellie graciously opens her home for us when we do these itineraries in the Netherlands, and moves in with a friend, so we have her entire place—including her car!—for ourselves.)
The next morning Rev. Elshout and I, on behalf of the Heritage Reformed Congregations, met at the Theologische Universiteit van Appeldoorn with three members of the Christelijke Gereformeerd Kerk’s correspondence committee (Dr. H. G. L. Peels, Rev. Lawrence DenButter, and Rev. J. Wim Wullschleger) to speak about the possibility of our respective denominations entering into some level of formal church fellowship. This is the first meeting we have ever had with them, and it went well. We shared each other’s history briefly, and then asked questions of each other. The result is that we hope to dialogue more over e-mail, and then present a recommendation for the first level of fellowship to our respective committees, which, if approved, will then go to our respective synods.
That afternoon Dr. Herman Selderhuis gave us a tour of Apeldoorn’s theological seminary in his own inimitable style. Later, we drove to Garderen to fellowship and have dinner with a dear ministerial friend, Rev. Wouter Pieters, his wife Arie, and their six boys. Rev. Pieters is pastor of the one thousand member Hersteld Hervormd Kerk of Garderen. What a great time we had with this warm and godly family! Real conversation transpired. We wish we could have spent more time with them.
That evening I preached for the Tabernacle organization at the Hervormd Centrum, Hardinxveld-Giessendam on “A Christ-centered Life” from Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” to a full room of two hundred people. Afterwards, a number of books sold well—particularly my new book of lectures given two years ago at this same place, Christus is Alles! (Christ is All!).