When Alexander Blom – student at Evangelical Theological Faculty in Belgium – saw a Facebook ad for a student ministry, he wanted to get involved.
Of the 70,000 people in his city, almost half are students.
“I was praying about ministry,” Alexander recalls, “then I saw the Facebook ad and decided to go be part of the meeting.”
At the meeting, Alexander met Maarten Gast, the national director for student ministry in the Netherlands. Maarten explained the ministry, Student Life and their vision, hopes and plans. They challenged the students to pray about how they could be involved in talking with their peers about Jesus during their time at university.
“I was studying theology but didn’t just want to study it, I wanted to practice it,” he says. “So I prayed about it and God told me go ahead. I got the heart to start evangelizing and see what God would do.”
Then he gathered others and started talking with them about reaching peers with the message of Jesus.
Soon enough, Alexander was being coached by Maarten via Skype and sometimes in person when he would pass through the Netherlands on his four-hour train ride home. “It was really encouraging to meet [with Maarten],” Alexander says. “I was searching how to set up the student ministry and he helped.”
Maarten gave Alexander two things to focus on: finding others and telling them his faith story. “You can’t do anything on your own,” Maarten explains, “you need people to support you and pray for you. You need to find others to join you.”
Leading as a Team
Quite soon, Alexander found more students to help lead. “At first there were just 5 students,” Alexander remembers. The students organized an outreach, using Perspective Cards and since then have met weekly to go out and use the cards to start spiritual conversations with people. “This year we have 6-11 students,” he says. “It’s growing.”
Alexander and his peers are leading the student ministry as a team. “I’m excited about the cooperative leadership they have now,” Maarten says. “Now it’s not just Alexander. A group of leaders are taking initiative.”
The students have also organized a City Meet. Every second and fourth Monday, they offer free meals and students come to have conversations. “We ask people who God is and what they think or feel about God,” Alexander explains. “It’s more discussion, we let people share and we also share our [biblically-based] opinion.”
Because the group goes out weekly with Perspective Cards, they can invite others to the City Meet to help deepen conversations and relationships.
“Not all, but many churches and Christians in Belgium are focused on themselves,” Alexander explains. Evangelism is practically nonexistent. “So a small thing that is really exciting for me is that Flemish people outside of the ETF are coming to our meetings – that is very non-cultural and atypical. It’s not natural for them.”
“It’s exciting for me to see Flemish students exited about sharing their faith,” Alexander says. “They tell me it helps them communicate more clearly with their friends – they are inviting others to be part of it.”
While Maarten continues coaching Alexander, the next step will be Alexander coaching others.
Alexander’s dream is that Bible study groups will start up so he and his team can go beyond discussion and really get into the Bible with their peers.
“We see more and more students coming to join, but I hope we can train up more leaders to lead when we [graduate],” he says. “My hope is that the students will continue to go out and get students to think and get into the Bible and see students coming to Christ.”
But they haven’t seen students making decisions for Christ, yet. “We are in contact with a lot of people,” Alexander says. “We hope that will happen soon.”