June/July 2014 - Vol. 74.

What Pharos has done for me 
by Maarten Baumers

I left the university student life a couple of years ago when I graduated from the University of Leuven, but it was more difficult for me to let go of Pharos. So when I was asked to share my testimony at my last ‘official’ Pharos event, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. It was an ideal way for me to look back at what Pharos has meant for me in my life.

I cannot compare myself at all with the guy I was four years ago, before I got to know Pharos. Back then, I was an unbelieving, “searching” boy. Yes, I had an interest in Bible stories and in spirituality, but that was about it.

In Pharos, I discovered that God is a loving God, who wants to establish a personal relationship with every one of us. He wasn’t the distant, indefinable person anymore, but he became a friend and a Father for me. Instead of getting to know something about Him, my life changed when I got to know Him personally.

The most important thing Pharos instilled in me was community life. As a Christian, you are never alone. In Pharos, university students from all over the world, all completely different, come together to form one whole. And they do that because they have one thing in common: the desire to know God better.

Being able to share with like-minded people about personal struggles and blessings is a tremendous encouragement. And being able to ask for counsel and spiritual advice from Christians who are a bit farther along in life, is even more encouraging.

And in Pharos there is another great blessing - the opportunity to live with other Christians in a household. What began as an excuse to leave my parents’ house for a while, has become a true growing process. In living with other Christian men I have been challenged, encouraged, corrected, sharpened, confronted, but most importantly, blessed.

I have learned so much through Pharos, but the most central thing I learned was this: believing is not just
a part of your life. Through receiving practical Christian teaching and living in Christian community, I have discovered bit by bit what believing in Christ really means. If you really want to live and grow as a Christian in the power of the Holy Spirit, He begins to work in you and to take over your whole life, every aspect, even the things you would rather not give up.

I have learned that being a Christian is not a hobby, it is a way of life. 

Saying goodbye to Pharos luckily doesn’t mean that I will say goodbye to that way of living. Every ending is a new beginning. The challenge that follows for me is to  never forget to keep the Gospel in front of me and to find new places where I can grow and experience life in Christ. With God’s help and the support of Christian believers around me, I am sure I’ll be able to do it, because ‘giving up’ is an idea that doesn’t exist with God.

Maarten Baumers studied Biology at KU Leuven
Also see > "Doing It Together - Pharos 

Student Community" by Daniel Spokoinyi 

No "co-incidences" but "God-incidences"

by Georgie Burrows
Erasmus Exchange Student - Masters in Christian Theology

What I like about the Pharos community is that, although we are from different traditions, denominations and cultures, we have two things in common: our Christian faith and our youth. These two things immediately offer an unspoken bond between fellow students, ensuring that prayer is at the heart of our relationships.

This was most evident on the Pharos retreat in Bonheiden in March, where a small group of thirteen gathered together to share in community our time, our thoughts, our prayers and our talents and helped to build friendships even more. Here, in a safe environment, we were encouraged to share our faith and get to know one another on a deeper level. It was a time to be with God, others and yourself. 

The weekend was beautiful and definitely filled with love. The Holy Spirit works through each of us, and when we gather for prayer, this is especially illuminated.

It is amazing when we leave our situation at home, our own Christian communities (for me the Cursillo community) and come to a different country and God helps us meet another community, as God is everywhere working through his people. It really makes you realise how as Christians we are part of a bigger family wherever we are on our journey.

I recognise the "God-incidences" in my life, and coming to know the Pharos community through a series of events and people was definitely one of these incidences and it has helped me to make a smoother transition into a new country. I look forward to the remainder of my time here in Leuven with Pharos and the continual part it will play in the flourishing of my faith journey. Thank you and God bless.

Pharos is an ecumenical international Christian student community in Leuven, Belgium. 



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