‘I have a dream’ – Mission Week in Leuven, Belgium – Final Report

This was the second year we have worked with the Leuven Icthus group. (Icthus is the Flemish-speaking Belgian IFES movement). After a very encouraging first mission last year we were excited to go back and build on what had already begun. In many ways the week felt like a continuation of last year’s mission and it began with energy, momentum and expectancy. One of my abiding memories of the group from last year was their sheer unashamed passion for Jesus and this was again in evidence throughout the week.

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The group were joined by a sizeable team of guests from the UK and other parts of Europe. The diverse team worked well and exhibited real gospel unity and a welcoming community. It was wonderful to see how, through coming on UK missions, the Belgian students had fostered organic partnerships with students they had met and invited them to come and be a part of the mission. It would be great to see more UK students coming on continental missions – it not only blesses the local group but is an brilliant experience for those who come, and they will enrich their own CUs as a result.

This year’s mission week was entitled ‘I have a dream’ and each day we looked at the some of the big dreams we have in life and how they may point us to a bigger reality. Each morning the team spent in first-contact evangelism, through a variety of methods – worldview surveys, proxy stations and flyering. Lunchtime and evening events were all held in the same attractive central venue.

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It was really encouraging to see how things grew during the week. We began the week with an already good number of guests but this grew as the week went on – and it was exciting to see that in many instances it was the non-Christians who also invited their friends. One atheist student told me ‘My friend came with me yesterday but he didn’t want to come back today because he thought that if he came again he would probably become a Christian!’.

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We had a real sense through the week that the Lord was at work in a very obvious way. ‘First contact’ seemed to be especially well received leading to long and deep conversations. One girl had a long conversation with a team member on the Monday. On the Tuesday she bumped into other team members, who also spoke to her. She said ‘I thought it might have been God wanting to get through to me when the first people met me – now that I have met you twice, I really do think it is!’ An older gentleman walked into the first lunch talk on science having just seen a poster on the street – he was so taken by what he heard he came back to every event and was befriended by a local Christian. He happily accepted his invitation to come to his church after the mission ended.

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Last year’s mission had been encouraging but had lacked much obvious fruit; this time, each day, we saw the evidence of the Spirit drawing people to Jesus. Some took huge steps forward towards faith and others started to follow Christ.

It was a joy to see one student journey from atheism to Jesus over the course of the week. Another from agnosticism to faith in just one evening! International students too were among those who trusted Christ.

On the journey home we reflected on the week. We all had a sense that God had been very much at work in a way that we don’t always see. The format of the mission and the talks were broadly similar to other missions as was the cultural context – so why the uncommon receptiveness? We could only put it down to the prayerfulness of the local students who had evidently been persistently and expectantly in prayer for the week. They had organised 24/7 prayer as well as the morning prayer gatherings. Not only did they pray for the non-Christians they met, but they also prayed with them – offering prayer to those they met and spoke to. Sometimes we feel that the first prayer we pray with a non-Christian has to be one of commitment to Christ – but we found that praying for those who were still much further back had a profound impact upon their receptiveness to the gospel.

The Christian apologist, Francis Schaeffer once said that when we engage in mission we create ripples that go on for eternity. I truly believe this will be the case from this mission week. It is exciting to think of the potential of the new believers and what they may go on to do.

It was also wonderful to welcome guests from different IFES groups in the Netherlands who had been inspired to think about doing missions through the Presence conference the week before, and came to get ideas. We also had students from the French-speaking Belgian IFES (GBU) who also came to investigate the possibility of doing a mission week themselves. Do pray that the good model of Leuven may spread across Belgium and the Netherlands, and lead to many more mission weeks where people come to know Jesus for themselves.

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