The Netherlands is a low country; just over 50 percent of its area is below sea level and is protected by dikes and dunes. The Dutch are continuously engaged in reclaiming land from the sea. There are approximately 1253 persons per square mile, the second-highest population density in the world. The people of the Netherlands are tolerant to a fault—pioneering legislation for tolerance in the matters of drugs, prostitution, abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage.
The larger number of Protestants live in northern Holland. The southern provinces are predominately Roman Catholic. There is dissatisfaction and disinterest in both Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. They fail to answer questions and give no solution to life’s problems; therefore, people under 40 years of age have no time for church. It could be argued that apathy is the predominant religion.
Baptist Mid-Missions' work in the Netherlands began in 1954 when Herbert and Ruth Boyd began ministry in Eindhoven. Gradually they won the hearts of the people. In February 1966 the Evangelical Baptist Church of Eindhoven was established with 15 members. The church grew steadily over the years and graduated from mission status in 1987. Attendance at the beginning of 2002 was just under 300. This work has sent couples to several other countries as missionaries and has spawned a daughter church in Valkenswaard.
Similar works have been undertaken by other BMM missionaries in Tilburg, Breda, Veghel, and Bergen Op Zoom. The works have been generally started with Bible study groups and children’s work. Moving these contacts towards establishing a local church generally takes several years. Starting the churches has been done with between 12 and 20 charter members (baptized adults). At this point the missionary’s primary ministry changes to a pastoral/church-establishing ministry. Most of our churches still meet in buildings they rent on Sundays, meeting in homes during the week.
Most of the works in southern Holland, even those in bigger cities, are drawing people from large areas around the town where the churches are located. The idea of a local church’s being established to meet the needs of the Christians in one town is not practical.
There are still numerous towns in the large area where Baptist Mid-Missions is active, where similar new works could be undertaken by additional couples willing to commit themselves to the work until the job gets done.
Our missionaries offer a short-term experience for students of college age that gives hands-on experience in the day-to-day workings of church planting in the Netherlands. This summer group trip teaches students about the Dutch and their culture and the needs on this mission field. Students will leave with a clearer understanding of how God can use their individual gifts in a cross-cultural situation. To learn more about Go Dutch, click here.