On 5 February 2023, the GCI congregation in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands celebrated its 10-year anniversary. We thanked and honoured God with exuberant songs, in a service led and provided by the women of the congregation. Seventy-five people attended, including several guests.
Pastor Matendo Makoti explained that we should never be discouraged. God’s work is sometimes slow with setbacks and successes, but always know that your efforts are not in vain in the Lord! “But let us give thanks to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Together with me, Pastor Matendo Makoti stood at the cradle of the congregation. We are also very grateful for the wise counsel and support from Santiago Lange, the then mission developer from Germany.
At the end of 2011, I met Matendo, his family, and his brother-in-law, Kuba Kone. They had come to the Netherlands from the refugee camp in Kenya, under the resettlement programme. They were settled near Leeuwarden. Leeuwarden is a city/municipality in the province of Friesland.Read More
In 2012, we began by meeting in Matendo or Kuba Kone’s house for Bible studies. We did that for about 18 months, with short sermons, music, and hospitality. As more and more new adults and children arrived, the need for a congregation arose. On 3 February 2013, the congregation was planted in the Frisian countryside!
Santiago Lange was involved in the leadership meetings and together we explained who GCI is and what we stand for. The statement of faith and other GCI articles were translated into Swahili by a brother in Kenya. After prayer and advice, it seemed right to appoint Brother Matendo Makoti with Mapendo, his wife, as pastor.
In the first few years, I went to Leeuwarden every month as national pastor. Planting a congregation is one thing, continuing to build a congregation through trial and error is something that takes a lot of time and prayer. Prior to 2017, there was a sharp drop in numbers due to different challenges. But God kept speaking to us not to give up, and we listened to this.
In October 2017, Matendo and his team found space in their current building in Leeuwarden. The congregation has become more stable and grown again. There is now peace, love, and joy. We are grateful to God for his presence, faithfulness, and leadership during these years. In all the ups and downs, we have experienced his presence.