Mother's column – Christianity shines in its diversity


Christian Life

Neline, CNE.news

International service in the Netherlands. Image not related to content of the article. Photo Facebook, International Church Harderwijk

Your horizon expands when you meet people from different cultures. To do so, you can visit countries far away, but often that is not even necessary at all. Even for people who, like us, live in the most rural area of the Netherlands.

For example, in the summer of 2021, hundreds of Afghan refugees are accommodated in our town. Sadly enough, they are not warmly welcomed. From the place where we are on holiday, we read the news about racist slogans, fireworks and burning tires with great embarrassment. “Will they get angry when we return home too?” Jolijn asks, worried. “We also come from another country now, right?” But I can reassure her, the Dutch province of Zeeland is not Afghanistan. And with our blond hair and blue eyes, they will treat us differently anyways.

Neline op de fiets.jpeg

Neline is married and the mother of five: Martha (8), Abel (6), Jolijn (5), Reinout (3) and Sifra (0).

At the beginning of this year, the refugee accommodation opens its doors again. This time, it is for refugees from Ukraine. Fortunately, the atmosphere is different this time. Of course! Who would not want to help displaced women, children and elderly people? Moreover, most of them are Christian, the newspaper writes. They are people from Europe, people like us.

But the reality turns out to be a bit more diverse. Suddenly, there are a lot more dark-skinned people who hang out around the local supermarket. And Abel proudly tells that he has played soccer with Ukrainians. “One of them was super good. His name was Abdul.” That does not sound very Ukrainian and even less Christian.

And then it becomes Sunday. A Nigerian, who had lived in Kyiv until recently, walks on the street, silently praying for a possibility to meet fellow Christians today. Then he hears the ringing of church bells. That is how he ends up in our church.

During the next weeks, more and more Africans find their way to our congregation, even though it does take them some effort to get used to our strict starting times. But as soon as they are there, they eagerly read along with the sermon, which is translated into English and shared with the guests via Telegram.

When entering the church, they receive a paper with the psalms that will be sung, and they visibly do their best to sing the words from 1773.

After the service, there is the chance to drink coffee and tea together in the meeting room. Again, the refugees sing praises, this time in their own language and tempo, polyphonic and beautiful.

In our ancient tradition, they can see a glimpse of the church of all times. With their arrival, we can experience something of the church of all places.



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