February 2008 - Vol. 16
Thirty Years Jerusalem 

The story of God’s call to a covenant community in Belgium

by Sam Geleyn

children in the community youth program prepare 
some art work for the 30th anniversary celebration

Does God still call people these days? 
Many people would argue that often God seems very distant. Wouldn’t life be a lot easier if he just told us what to do, with a loud and audible voice, in the way he called Abraham and Samuel? Maybe. The story of the Jerusalem community in Belgium, however, is a clear example that thousands of years after Samuel, God has not stopped calling people together for a clear purpose and mission.

Jerusalem is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual community

Brief history
The early beginnings of Jerusalem go back to January 1977, when the Belgian Cardinal Suenens invited a group of Americans from the Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, to come to Belgium and work with him. As they tried to discern whether God wanted them to start a community in this small country, God answered very quickly and clearly, bringing a lot of people together. Only eight months later the first Belgians made their underway commitments during the first community weekend. During the following years, the Lord continued to add people to them and revealed more of his call. In 1980 the community, until then called “Word of God Belgium”, received a new name from the Lord: Jerusalem, a people called to be a sign of peace and unity across races, cultures, and languages.

Despite serious difficulties during the 90s, when a lot of people left the community because of a leadership crisis, the Lord has continued to build his house. The last five years have been years of rebuilding, regaining strength, and rediscovering our call. The community now has 100 members, but more importantly, God’s joy and power are ever more visible. Faithful to its early call to unity, Jerusalem still has members of different races, cultures, and tongues, all living in different places in Belgium. The recent political crises and division between the different parts of the country have strengthened the conviction for this call to be a sign of unity.

Part of a region
Being part of a community of communities in the Sword of the Spirit has been a rich blessing. The support and prayers from other communities throughout the European and Middle East region have made a big difference. Our students and young professionals especially have benefited a lot from regional events, like winter retreats and summer activities, where they have received a lot of formation and found strength in building lifelong friendships with peers from various Sword of the Spirit communities and outreaches. This support has been and continues to be an invaluable gift from the Lord and has helped people to press on in times of spiritual dryness and struggle. As a community we have had the honor of hosting a few regional activities over the last few years (Kairos Weekend, the regional council meetings, On Holiday – a weeklong regional summer vacation for 650 people). Serving our brothers and sisters, experiencing the unity we have with all of them in our common call and living it out together has been a tremendous source of joy and strength.

The guys’ garage (after a couple of days of painting and cleaning) is now the new base 
for reaching out to university students in Leuven

A new call to mission
Recently, we have felt the Lord calling us to put more effort and thought into evangelism. The “Lighthouse Project” has given way to five Alpha courses being set up in the various home towns of community members. A “flying” outreach team of speakers is supporting these local initiatives by giving the talks in the different places. We experience God giving us a desire to invite more and more people into a deeper relationship with him and into the richness of community life. We are hoping that our dispersion throughout the country, usually regarded as our main obstacle to strong community life, might actually allow us to reach a lot more people! It is remarkable how God is also using this new project to bring us closer to each other, young and old, French speaking and Flemish speaking.

university students enjoy a meal during a recent Alpha course

For the past seven years, another important mission field has been our student outreach. This has been a place for community members who have recently become adults to grow in their personal relationship with the Lord and to discover his call for their lives. Over the last three years the Lord has sent us a few new students, and we experience his call more and more to reach out to students in Leuven who are seeking the Lord. With a new name, Pharos (lighthouse), and an enthusiastic team running the outreach, we are hoping we can shine his light ever more clearly into the Leuven university scene.

And so we are confident to say that God is a living and present God, calling and equipping people to be a witness of his love and glory. We are thankful for what he has given us and look confidently toward the future with hearts full of hope and joy for what he is about to do.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9)
[Sam Geleyn, age 24, has grown up in Jerusalem and has been an underway member of the community since a year and a half . He graduated from the Catholic University of Leuven in Commercial Engineering in 2006 . He teaches Secondary School in Brussels and leads the university outreach Pharos (Lighthouse) in Leuven.]
Return to Table of Contents or Archives  (c) copyright 2008  The Sword of the Spirit