Bethany Baptist Church

Jonathan and Natalie VandenHurk were guests at Bethany Baptist Church, Sunday. Jonathan told about his father who was born into a Dutch family and his mother who was born in Africa both in traditional churches and not knowing about salvation. They were both saved and living in America when Jonathan was born so he had a Christian upbringing. Jonathan’s father wanted to make knowledge about salvation very clear to his children and read the Bible to them often.  Jonathan was saved at a very young age and called to preach when he was twelve.

Natalie was born in England and baptized into a traditional church as an infant and did not hear about how to be saved or even know what it meant, but she received a Gideon pocket Bible when she was young and God spoke to her heart through that. When she was a teen an Independent Baptist worker asked her to church and thereafter she attended that church, got saved, and eventually became a Sunday school teacher. In 2005 Jonathan went on a mission trip to help the workers in that same church. He met Natalie and a few years later they were married. They both want to go back to England to reopen one of the old vacant churches in a neighborhood where there is no Christian witness.

It is said that Christianity came to England within the first century when the Romans had taken some of England’s earliest rulers to prison in Rome. Here tradition says that these English prisoners came in contact with the Apostle Paul during his time in prison. However it happened, England became a leading Christian nation that by the 1500’s was sending out missionaries across the seas to America, Africa, India, and other nations. Great men of God like the Wesley’s, Spurgeon and William Carry and before them men who gave their lives to translate the Bible into English made England a great center for the spreading of the gospel. Now it is reported that only 2% of English citizens attend church at all. What happened?

The Bible makes it clear that parents are supposed to teach their children and the children to teach their children with the responsibility to do so resting on the fathers. But like Israel in the days of Joshua, the fathers in England failed. Instead of “giving ear” to hear the word of God they listened to Darwin question the basic Biblical teaching that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” They let seminarians tell their preachers that they need not take the words of the Bible literally. Add to that certain Calvinistic doctrines, that discouraged witnessing to the lost. By the end of World War II the fathers saw that even the preachers did not believe in the infallibility of the Word of God, the truth of Creation, or of universal sin and its deadly consequences. They stopped teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to their children.

England has become what is known as a “post-Christian” nation. Along with the failure on the part of generations of parents to teach their children, have come the efforts of aggressive atheism. Children are taught that intelligent, educated people will be atheists and that a belief in the Creator indicates a lack of intelligence and even delusion. In Deuteronomy 5 the fathers were warned that if they did not teach the succeeding generations there would be consequences. Now you have a generation of young people with no fear of God, no conscience, and no hope for anything better. They have not heard of Jesus except as a curse word.

Some of that lack of conscience has been acted out on the streets of London and other cities when “Yobs” rioted in the streets. When Jonathan was helping the people in Natalie’s church renovate an old vacant church, these “Yobs” as the street boys are called were throwing stones into windows, starting fires, and generally set for destruction. However, when the work went on, some of the “Yobs” asked, “What do you do in there?” They were asked to come see for themselves. They came and would sit in the back for while, then leave. Later some of them asked if they could come back. The church workers decided to have special meetings for these street kids where they could teach them the basic things starting with Genesis and the story of Creation. As a result three of them have been saved. This is the motivation for Jonathan and Natalie to return to England and reopen another one of the vacant churches to revive the work of the Lord there.