The Eeklo Evangelical Church was founded in 1980 by Pastor Jacobus De Feyter from the Netherlands. He, his wife and six children had moved ‘just down the road’ into Belgium, an expression betraying the fact that Eeklo (a town of about 20,000 inhabitants) lies near the Dutch border.
They began gospel services in various locations in the town. Within a few years a congregation of about thirty adults was gathered, and the nucleus of a settled work seemed to be in place.
However, in the late eighties and early nineties, numerical decline set in. The death of some elderly members, the relocation out of the area of others, and the departure of a few discontented souls, saw numbers dwindle to around twelve. This was the situation when I moved to Eeklo in September 1997 after completing a probationary period in Belgium, in a church on the coast.
The work in Eeklo remains at a pioneer stage. Average Lord’s Day congregations number around fifteen adults, plus occasional visitors. About half of these are around retirement age. With Pastor De Feyter himself due to retire within the next twelve months, in the will of the Lord I will be assuming sole responsibility for the continuance of the work here.
Due to the smallness of the congregation my work has a necessary evangelistic emphasis. There is a regular programme of literature distribution and door-to-door evangelism, children’s work, and occasional mass distribution of gospel literature.
There is one service on the Lord’s Day (I hope eventually to begin a second service) and the preaching is shared between Pastor De Feyter and myself. On the Lord’s Day afternoons, my wife and I run a small children’s club, attended by about four or five, whilst our weekly Bible study and prayer meeting on Thursday evenings is attended by about seven or eight. I am responsible for these Bible studies.
We are hoping later this year to work with the Gideons International in Belgium, visiting local schools to distribute portions of the Scripture. We would value your prayers for such visits to take place. For some years we have been trying as a fellowship to gain access to local schools, so far without success.
Eeklo is very much in the social and cultural grip of the Roman Catholic Church. There have been instances of children attending our children’s club quite happily for a while and then mysteriously no longer wanting to come.
Some children have even said that their parish priest has warned them of the dangers of attending our meetings! We are in a spiritual battle and we look to our sovereign Lord for grace and strength to persevere.
Through door-to-door evangelism we are able to have face-to-face contact with local residents and there are some good opportunities to present the gospel this way. However, the most common response is one of sheer indifference to the things of God. People do not know what the true gospel is, nor are they interested in hearing it!
But our almighty Lord is able to regenerate souls dead in trespasses and sins, and has promised to build his church. We look to him for the increase. Glory to his Eternal Name!