THE STORY BEGINS
During a leadership training in 2015 Stephe Mayers (Former European YWAM leader) told Stefan Pruim and Willem Jan Boon (Base leaders of YWAM Heidebeek, the Netherlands): “You need to plant teams”. They felt this was a prophetic word and began exploring the possibilities.
There was already a team planted in Indonesia. A possible next option could be North Africa or Europe. They also had Limburg on their heart as this is the Dutch province with the least amount of Jesus followers.
January 2019 Freek van Balen (convener YWAM NL) and Stefan Pruim (Base leader YWAM Heidebeek), gathered together a group of Heidebeek staff, who all felt called to be launched out by heidebeek in missions somewhere else in the world. Freek and Stefan challenged us to pray think about forming a team and going together. During the meeting the idea of starting something in Limburg was dropped, but didn’t immediately make many people excited.
Some of those present in the meeting really connected with this idea of starting a team and starting a new YWAM location. Something that those people shared was a desire to reach out in places considered unreached, or where very few Christians lived. But not just anywhere in the world, they felt called to reach out within Europe!
It was in September when 4 of us committed to pioneering a new location, even when we didn’t yet know where. We started to meet and pray, seeking God for where and when and how. Out of these prayer times came the initiative to “spy out the land” and visit different possible places. The first being Limburg and several cities in Limburg. Antwerp, Echternach and Rome also were places we desired to go to.
When we visited Maastricht during this “spying the land” outreach trip, we instantly felt a strong sense that it could be the city we might move to. During our time there, God spoke to us that He wanted to “re-open old wells” and that there was “something new coming”. We stayed in a monastery with a community of nuns and they shared that they had received these words for Maastricht as well.
During our stay, we joined the nuns in their celebration of the life of ‘Saint Willibrord’, a missionary. When hearing the story of his life, we were amazed, He was sent out from Rome and travelled and lived in the cities God had put on our hearts to visit during this outreach. This was so exciting. We still don’t know exactly why the Lord led us to the same places, but it confirmed to us that we were going in the right direction.
We met many people who had felt the call to move Maastricht which made us excited for what God was doing and going to do. God also spoke about Maastricht being a “door to other cities” and its strategic geographical location only supported this.
We desired to go back to Maastricht and seek confirmation from God, if it was the city God called us to. With the restrictions that came with the Corona pandemic, it wasn’t possible to visit until June.
Once we were able to return, we were joined by someone who had a heart for Limburg and was seriously considering to join our team. This time we had the pleasure of staying with a non-denominational Christian community who we could pray and worship with. They had impressions and words for us that continued to point us to towards a future of living and reaching out in Maastricht. One of these words was that we would be given “the keys to the city”. As a team we did prayer walks and served alongside some local ministries. During one our prayer walks in a catholic church garden, we all had the same impression for Maastricht. “The story isn’t finished”. The people of Maastricht are waiting to hear the end of the story, that Jesus didn’t just die, but he raised again and desires a living relationship with them.
It was during this outreach that things became clearer and more concrete. We still look back on this trip as the significant moment where our team grew from 4 to 5 and we all said “yes!” to Maastricht. But this was a step in faith as we still didn’t know the when or how!
We began meeting weekly to pray and prepare. We invited others around us to pray for us, in particular for impressions for when we should move to Maastricht. When reflecting on our moments in prayer and the impressions we received from others, it felt it all pointed towards Spring 2021. So we continued preparing and praying for more people to join our team.
Our prayers were being answered! We welcomed our 6th member into the team. She had just finished her DTS and was ready to take a big step and join our pioneering adventure
We went on our third outreach to Maastricht. It was a great time to finally be back after 9 months. We were able to work alongside existing ministries and build our network and connections with fellow Jesus followers. We also experienced lot of openness with young people on the streets when talking about the gospel with them. We returned to Heidebeek, with such a longing to move and excitement for our future in Maastricht.