Today I’d like to tell you about three men who have ministries that are spreading the Gospel around the world. I have known Peter and Warmolt for years but have yet to meet Johan.
Peter van der Schelde – Online Bible Europe
Peter’s background is in medical chemistry and biochemical research and he obtained his first management training in the Dutch army, followed by employment in the pharmaceutical industry.
In 1992 he started part-time as a self-employed engineer under the name Importantia (Latin meaning “those things which are important”) and became involved in projects digitizing complex books. In 1993 he quit his job in the pharmaceutical industry to focus completely on electronic publishing. During this time something extraordinary happened.
In 1987 Larry Pierce in Canada started developing a Bible study computer program he called Online Bible. This was before the World Wide Web as we know it. Peter became involved with the Online Bible in 1990, after a missionary gave him his copy of version 4 for dos. He was looking for a program like this as he was involved in leading a youth group.
Peter could see the benefits of such a program so he offered Larry his help to develop a Dutch version of the program. Peter had a vision centered around providing people with quality bible study related content and tools. Dutch and German Bibles with Strongs did not exsist so he set up projects to develop these. He developed content in many languages for Online Bible, mostly in Dutch and German, but also added Scandinavian languages, French, Afrikaans, and many more.
During that time Peter had requests to supply some of the content in print. This started the second leg of his ministry. He began to publish content in print as well and helped others to do the same.
Helping others to publish their material in print led to the startup of Cross Link Services in 2005 together with an associate, Sjoerd van Noort. In 2009 they added ebooks as a service. And in 2012 Sjoerd started to work on the Online Bible apps for iOS and Android.
These days Peter spends half of his time on developing new content for Bible study, which finds it way to the Online Bible, print or ebooks and sometimes all three and the other part of his time on managing existing content for the Online Bible. One of the new projects he hopes to release this year is Focus Braintrainer to the Bible in English. It was already released in Dutch, but the English edition is now ready. Focus Braintrainer to the Bible is a great help with Bible reading. It supplies questions to every chapter of the Bible to see if you have really grasped the content of the chapter. This will be made available for the Online Bible in print and as an ebook.
Warmolt Houwing – He Lived Among Us
Here is his story!
In 1989 after he had retired as a sea captain, Warmolt Houwing discovered an illustrated Bible story book, entitled He Lived Among Us. He obtained the copyrights and started giving the books away to fellow seamen in the Port of Antwerp.
Since then, giving away these books has become his mission in life. Now Warmolt spends his time between Canada and The Netherlands, enlisting the support of many like minded businessmen in his ministry, he has been able to print more than 35 million copies of this book in 40 languages. He distributes all the books free of charge, with help from many different organizations. He also provides the book as free downloads on the Internet in 17 languages at: www.gospelcomics.com.
Warmolt is a 78-year-old Dutchman with a strong Christian family background. He was in the Dutch Merchant Navy, and sailed from 1953 until 1983. Starting as a cooks boy, he finished his last 10 years at sea as a captain. He has sailed in all kinds of vessels, from freighters and tankers to passenger ships and tugboats.
Houwing recalls: “While sailing I lived like the prodigal son, to my shame!” In 1986, after a dramatic conversion, he gained a totally new, fresh start in life. His conversion led to sailing as relief captain on the Mercy Ships vessel Anastasis and the Operation Mobilization ship Logos.
In 1988, He started to work as an evangelist in the Port of Antwerp among his seamen colleagues. “Our main target group were Russians,” he says. “Every day, about 17 Russian ships docked in Antwerp, with approximately 1,000 sailors. I smuggled tens of thousands of Bibles and New Testaments to them.
“In 1989, an English pastor gave me two copies of He Lived Among Us in Russian. When I saw these books, I said to Jesus: ‘This book will open their eyes!’ That same afternoon, I smuggled one of these books to a Russian ship’s officer, Andre, who was 28 years old. The following morning I waited for him, and when he appeared his face and eyes were shining — and he said two words to me: ‘I believe.’ That was the clearest confirmation I could have! My heart jumped for joy, and I straight away drove into Antwerp, sold my car and started printing with that second book. Later on I obtained the copyright. Raising funds with Christians, I printed as many as possible and distributed them free of charge!”
In 1993, he printed 1.7 million books in Russian, English, Spanish and Dutch; he then teamed up with the Open Doors ministry. “We transported 1.2 million copies with trucks to Russia. There they were distributed by Open Doors and their network all over Russia. It became the most popular book in the Russian prisons. We had lots of feedback and reports telling how many, many children — and often, through them, their parents — became believers.”
Thereafter came many more translations, including Chinese (Simplified Script), Arabic, Farsi — and in India, more than 20 local languages like Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu and Urdu. “In India, we have printed and distributed over 25 million copies of He Lived Among Us,” Houwing continues. “Approximately eight million were given to children, mostly to those attending Vacation Bible Schools in rural areas. This was very strategic — because through the children, the parents and other adults are being reached, who often otherwise cannot be approached.”
Also, he adds, “many illiterate people come to a living faith in the Lord Jesus as others read the book to them, while they study the vivid drawings. A Chinese proverb states: ‘One picture tells more than one thousand words.'”
Houwing says the book was originally written in French. Its author is Pierre Thivollier and the artist is Noel Gloesener.The book has 128 pages, 109 of which are graphic pages showing the main episodes of the life of Jesus; the last 17 pages contain James, Romans 1-8, 1 Peter, 1 Corinthian 15, and the parables of the rich man and Lazarus, and the prodigal son.
“By displaying it on the Internet in 17 languages we proclaim the gospel in this attractive way,” Houwing says. “In the meantime, I keep busy raising funds to print more books while we still can.”
For further information you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
John DeVries, Founder/ Mission India and Project Philip.
I wish to express my deepest appreciation to you for all that you have done for Mission India over these past 20 years of partnership.
You have supplied us with over 20 million copies of this uniquely blessed book, “He Lived Among Us”. Most of these have been
distributed to children in our ten day Children’s Bible Clubs as well as our After School Bible Clubs which meet every day, year round.
We know from our feed back that this book has had a tremendously
positive response in bringing the boys and girls and their families to
Christ and providing a deeper understanding for them of the gospel
since they are the actual words of the Gospels.
You will be interested to know that in the last five year period,
the India Churches and Missions which have used our one year training programs have reported to us, as a direct, immediate result of the year of training only, a total of 7.5 million new believers !
These new believers have been gathered in 50,000 new church plants. Research has shown that 89% will continue to grow and reproduce, many at the rate of one new church plant every 14 months. We define a church as at least ten baptized believers with regular weekly worship services.
We praise God for his work in and through you Warmolt !
We are both reaching the “Caleb” age.
Remember when he was advanced in age, he did not retire but rather he asked for the “highest mountain”.
I am trusting that we are both like him as these years fly by.
May God’s choicest blessing continue to rest upon you.
Until India (and the West) is transformed,
George Verwer – Founder & CEO – OPERATION MOBILIZATION
“This is an incredibly blessed ministry. The book HE LIVED AMONG US has blessed tens of millions of people. Operation Mobilization has teamed up with Warmolt Houwing for many years in helping to distribute these books all over the world”
Brother Andrew – Founder – OPEN DOORS
“Open Doors distributed 1.2 million books HE LIVED AMONG US throughout Russia. They were received with great thanksgiving. By reading these books, many, many dear Russian children (and adults) have found a living relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ”
Johan Huibers – Ark of Noah – Holland – Brazil – Seattle?
Born in 1958, Johan grew up in the Dutch province of Noord-Holland, in the ‘Realm of a thousand Islands’. His fascination with water in all its facets dates back to his childhood. When he was 24, he encountered God, who planted a desire in his heart to help others. Having been involved in adventure filled aid projects in Ethiopia, Albania and Bosnia, he set about realizing his big dream: to construct a replica of Noah’s Ark.
At 33 years old, building constructor and carpenter, Johan Huibers dreamt that a fierce storm-tide flooded the entire province of Nood-Holland in the Netherlands. That dream marked the start of an exciting adventure in which Johan overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve his ultimate goal; the building of a replica of Noah’s Ark!
Hundreds of thousands have already visited this true-size Biblical Ark of Noah. It is 95 feet wide (29 meters), 410 feet long (125 meters), 75 feet tall (23 meters), 5 decks, so large that it holds more than 5,000 people at once.
The vessel itself is an immense life-sized exhibit with multiple floors. Visitors experience Bible based stories and exhibits, a movie theater and more. The Ark of Noah Foundation is planning to take the Ark of Noah to Brazil this summer.
Transportation of the Ark of Noah from The Netherlands to Brazil will be an incredible undertaking. The voyage will be streamed live on the internet. People will see the barge on which the Ark of Noah will be mounted for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
After docking at several port cities in Brazil, the Ark of Noah will visit many other harbors on its journey through South, Central and North America. While still in the planning phase, desired ports to visit include: Montevideo and Buenos Aires, Havana, Panama, Columbia and then off to the United States: San Diego, Long Beach, San Francisco and Seattle.
His web site – http://arkofnoah.org/