Take the following three Belgian cities: Hasselt, Tienen and Liege. Draw a triangle. In the center of this triangle you will find Sint-Truiden. Like many other cities in Belgium, Sint-Truiden consists of a large city center and several rural villages integrated into a municipality. Among the population of Sint-Truiden, we find the Weber family: Jonathan, his wife, Sarah, and their four children - Warren (18), Daniel (14), Andrew (11) and Phoebe (9).
What characterizes the Webers is a passionate heart. Passionate about people, creative hobbies, sports, nature and the Lord. Passions that have proven to be decisive in creating, over the years, a solid network of friends and acquaintances in Sint-Truiden.
AN AMERICAN IN SINT-TRUIDEN
Let's go back a few years, when Jonathan was a student. Originally from Pennsylvania, he landed in Belgium - in Sint-Truiden, to be precise - as an exchange student for a year.
He came to love the country and its people, but also observed the spiritual poverty.
When he returned to the United States, he began international studies and met Sarah. Once they completed their studies and then married, they both felt God's call to come to Belgium and equip Belgian christians to serve and equip others. The Weber family arrived in Belgium in 2006. Four years later, they settled in Sint-Truiden.
A CHANGE OF PLANS
At first, Jonathan and Sarah aimed to create a partnership with a local church. Unfortunately, after twelve years, it became apparent that they did not share a common vision, and that it was best to end the endeavour. A failure? We'll have to see, because these years have allowed the couple to realize that they needed to change their approach to their missionary work in Belgium.
We realized that to be true to our calling as missionaries sent to Belgium to bring the Gospel to the lost, we needed to leave our evangelical priest role behind to embark upon a new form of ministry that would allow us to go into the world to reach new people with the Gospel. But we also realized that we would need to create a new church culture where new believers would be encouraged to live balanced lives obedient to the example of Jesus Christ.
At the same time, the Weber family has developed a strong social network in the city of Sint-Truiden. First, their passions have proven to be great opportunities for bonding. Secondly, their love for the Lord and for people has led them to become members of several community organizations in the city: a food bank, a gathering place for the homeless, a retirement home, and a parent committee. Jonathan and Sarah spend a lot of time building and nurturing all of these relationships, but also encouraging their friends to join and follow this movement.
We hope that others will see our example of humble service to our community and understand that we live what we preach. We hope that others will see the joy of serving Jesus by serving others in the community where they live.
A NEW COMMUNITY
In 2019, with the help of VIANOVA, Jonathan and Sarah launched their community project: VIANOVA3800. Currently, the community consists of five families, one of which is completely new to the faith. However, the first Covid confinement quickly slowed down the possibilities of living as a community as we had before.
We have chosen to encourage individual spiritual development, nuclear family worship, participation in 3D groups, being a blessing to your neighbourhood and participation in local service opportunities.
Nevertheless, there are challenges for the community to remain stable and solid in the basics of the Word, and in the efforts of integration and service to Sint-Truiden.
Our desire is to see a geographically focused community of disciples of Jesus Christ who will take responsibility for being a blessing to their immediate neighbours and people within their circle of friends. We believe that personal spiritual growth, discipleship, integration, service and applying Biblical truth must be at the core of each and every family who participates.
Interview by: Amélie Besson