Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. Acts 8:30-31 (NLT)
Hello from the Bodes in Belgium!
The big news is that we’ve been accepted as missionaries with the Belgian Evangelical Mission (BEM) to manage our local Christian bookstore, Het Goede Boek (The Good Book). It is a vital ministry serving the entire province with bibles, Christian books for all ages, resource materials and music, offering a listening ear and aid in searching the Bible and discovering God’s truth and grace.
We recognize that in the Belgian culture, working with the BEM in Het Goede Boek is a unique position of service to all the churches in the Limburg province where we have over the last 17 years built many contacts. The bookstore affords us the opportunity of nurturing the growing discipleship and mission perspective God has called each church in Belgium to.
How is this a change from what we’ve been doing?
Last September was the end of William’s 3-year part time contract as youth pastor with our church in Genk. We had planned for William to keep working part time in Ons Kinderhuis (a children’s home), where he had been working nights for more than a year, and to carry on with the youth and discipling ministry as volunteers. In October we learned that the current managers of the (only) Christian bookstore in our area were going to stop and the BEM was looking for someone to carry on the work. We asked God, our pastor and friends if we should offer ourselves for this work, and then applied, looking for God’s direction. The process took several months and we have just been officially accepted by the BEM.
Lyssa has been working 4-5 days per week in various businesses for the past several years but will try to find something 2-3 days per week instead so she can devote at least half her time to the bookstore work. Training and preparations for taking on the new responsibilities have begun.
The shift from a mostly tentmaker ministry to being a more traditionally supported missionary is significant for us, and we are willing because of the value we place on this resource and the clear leading of God to go in this direction at this time. The importance of Christian books and media in our lives has been inestimable, from the first book William’s parents were given that introduced them to Jesus to the most recent Christian music that builds us up. Healing perspectives can come from Christian fiction and of course, Bible study materials have given us access to the research and thoughts of Bible scholars through the centuries. God has been preparing us for this task for decades through the love of Christian books and materials, through formal theological training and through many years of missions and discipleship experience. And we plan to continue as much as possible with the youth and discipling work that we have been doing since our arrival in Genk in 2013.
‘You obviously can’t run a bookstore by yourselves, can you?’
It takes humility to recognize that our limitations are opportunities for God to develop teamwork and partnership. As we continue to grow in our knowledge of the language and culture of Belgium, it is our dependence on Belgian Christian co-workers that fosters this partnership. We need people to help with their experience in business, language, culture, their contacts in churches, their desire to share recommendations for good books, their willingness to buy Bibles for others, to give good Christian music to their teens, to spend time in the bookstore working, to pray for us and to support us financially so we can devote our time to this work.
Building a support team is a vital part of the preparation. Of course the BEM will provide training—and there is so much to learn (especially because it is all in Dutch!). But we also need a lot of practical help. The store is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., so we must find partners who will volunteer some time on a regular basis to work with us in the store. We also need helpers to take book tables to churches all over the area with us (we have no car or license). We are grateful for the brothers and sisters all over our province (Limburg) we have come to know and love over the past 17 years; we can’t do it without their help. And we will still be fully connected to our church here in Genk.
How can people further away help?
Because they serve a niche market in Belgium (where only 1% of the population is evangelical Christian), the Christian bookstores have never been a profit-making business. BEM workers must build a support team and for this reason, we invite you to pray for and financially support our work in Het Goede Boek in Genk. We have to raise at least the equivalent of a full time wage, and this must be in place by 1 August.
April 23 – We officially received the word that we were accepted as BEM missionaries and began the preparation and training period.
April 29 – William resigned his night job (to finish in June or July, still to be negotiated).
July 1 – Begin moving into the apartment above the bookstore (It needs renovation.).
July and August – The bookstore will be closed. Youth work carries on.
August 1 – Financial support must be in place.
August 11 – Lyssa’s work contract finishes. Her future work situation is unknown.
September – The bookstore will re-open with us as managers.
We thank you for reading and your interest in God’s work in Belgium. Please get in touch if you want to know more or would like to help in some way. We need you!
William and Lyssa Bode
Nieuwe Kuilenweg 57A2
3600 Genk, Belgium
0032 487 79 59 03 (Wm) or 0032 483 546 888 (Lyssa)