A few weeks ago, Karin and I attended Jaap Kooij’s farewell service. Jaap and his wife Swaantje have been on the road for God as a missionary and evangelist for years. We celebrated the end of more than 55 years(!) adventures in God’s kingdom. This service was the exclamation point behind a unique ministry.
Jaap grew up in St. Pancras in North Holland. As a butcher’s assistant and youth elder of the Reformed Church, he converted in a radical way at the end of the fifties. His encounter with Jesus took place at my grandparents’ house in St. Pancras. That is why Karin and I have felt a special bond with him all these years. Jaap and Swaantje’s farewell became a unique afternoon…
Just as you would expect from Jaap, he wanted to bless a number of people. He called Karin and me, among others, forward and prophesied words from God about us. They were encouragements and promises about what God wants to do, but suddenly the tone changed. He became silent, swallowed a few times, searched for words for a moment and said: ‘Many people do not know what sacrifices you have made in secret for God. How much you have suffered for the King’. Karin and I started to cry. The road we have traveled has been quite difficult.
We had nothing left
I gave up my job (high salary and company car) as an engineer. Karin resigned and left the Netherlands to come live with me in Belgium. We lived very simply on donations and often had (too) little for more than 10 years. The year before we came to the Netherlands, we had no house. It would take us too far to discuss this in detail. If you want, you can read it in my book ‘ Live Royally ‘ . But it meant that we lived in an empty, dilapidated church building. Without a bathroom, only one tap with water and a toilet outside. That year we slept on mattresses on the floor. We had left everything behind and given up everything for God and now we had nothing.
Losing everything for Him
It was precisely during those dark months that God brought one of the greatest changes in our lives. Our calling for Belgium was completed and God sent us to the Netherlands. The beginning of 5 years of working in the VBG Bethel in Drachten and now 10 years of Royal Mission. God makes the most beautiful fruits grow from the darkest moments in your life. Sometimes people are jealous of our lives or young people would like to have the same ministry we have now. Then Karin and I always ask: ‘Do you also want our life of the past 25 years?’ Following Jesus costs a lot. He invites you to lose everything for Him. Even to your home, your family and your country. His process with us is ‘ long obedience in the same direction ‘ (F. Nietzsche).
Fortunately, Jesus makes a very special promise with all these sacrifices. “Truly I tell you, everyone who has left brothers or sisters, mother, father or children, house or fields, for my sake and for the gospel’s sake, will receive a hundredfold: at this time brothers and sisters, mothers and children, houses and fields, though there shall be persecution, and in the time to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). In this life you will receive back a hundredfold of everything you left behind… even if it will be with persecution.
In June we celebrated Royal Mission’s 10th anniversary and a man came up to us and wanted to give us a personal gift. He is a professional bed maker and an expert in the field of sleep. He wanted to give us a handmade bed as a gift. Special! A few weeks ago he delivered it and put it together in our house. While he was doing it, God spoke to me and I started to cry. He reminded me of the time we lay on those mattresses on the floor. God said, ‘I would give it back a hundredfold.’ I walked to Karin and we fell into each other’s arms, crying. God is faithful and knows better than we do what sacrifices we have made in the process of growing after Jesus. Now we have the best bed we can imagine. Just received as a gift. Jesus has fulfilled his promise again. In recent years he has amply compensated us for our house, fields, family and everything we left behind.
Do you dare to take on the adventure?
Do you want a fruitful life? Do you want to be used powerfully by God and become more like Jesus? Then Jesus invites us all to leave behind our certainties and achievements again and again. That is painful and often in secret, but in the midst of those moments of loss, God transforms your life. That is worth everything and God sees what you give up. He let us know again so lovingly through Jaap. And He will repay in this life with persecutions. Welcome to the painful, beautiful adventure of chasing Jesus!