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A HISTORY OF VIANOVA

1914

WORLD WAR I

While the Nortons are in London, World War I breaks out. London becomes increasingly crowded with Allied soldiers. 

Ralph distributes evangelism leaflets to the soldiers and organises meetings for the soldiers who are ready to cross the Channel to the battlefield in Flanders. 

 

1917

HOTEL ROOM

The Nortons' hotel room in London becomes a drop-in centre for Belgian soldiers. Edith reads to the young men from the Bible, washes their socks and repairs their clothes. 

The soldiers come out of the trenches, and the contrast with this loving environment is enormous. Many soldiers make a choice for the Lord in this hotel room. Later on, the hotel room is replaced by a real drop-in centre in the heart of London. 

1919

BELGIAN EVANGELICAL MISSION

After the war, God leads the Nortons to Belgium where they open their new headquarters in Brussels. The Belgian Evangelical Mission (BEM) is born. Soon the BEM starts planting churches. 

1926

EVANGELISM WAGON - BOOKSTORE

A large evangelism wagon drives through the country. The wagon has a folding platform from which the gospel is preached. 

 

The BEM starts selling Bibles, because these are hard to come by in Belgium. Over the years, this grows into the Christian bookstores "Het Goede Boek" and "Le Bon Livre". 

1940

WORLD WAR II

Many people flee the country or are called up to do their military service. A number of BEM workers also suffered this fate. 

 

Halls where Christians gathered were destroyed by bombardments and the buildings could not be heated because of the fuel shortage. The membership of the churches declined and evangelistic activities were forbidden by the occupying forces. 

1950

THE MOBILE CHAPEL

The BEM builds a mobile chapel as a successor to the evangelism tents. 

 

The chapel is a mobile army trailer that can be converted into a hall with 100 to 140 seats. Over the years the chapel visits almost every part of Belgium to proclaim the gospel.