Derek Webb provided the soundtrack that took me to the bus stop today.  The walk is becoming a familiar one as we enter our sixth week here in the Netherlands.  I’ve been listening to Derek for years, so the song was also very familiar, however this time, winding through the cold streets, I felt like I was seeing with a different perspective.

Though the song is primarily about the church I found the title track off of Derek’s first solo album “She Must and Shall Go Free” ringing in my ears as some sort of anthem of Christ calling his creation to rely on his work on their behalf.  The chorus’ “All here debt’s been cast on me, she must and shall go free” became a way for Christ to say, “Its been paid!  Simply fall on me and be broken and healed!”  To be honest it almost brought me to tears to look in the faces of the people around me.  

Its not that the buildings were dilapidated, or the people especially depraved looking.  I don’t really know if I can state it exactly, but it just seemed like a kingdom who’s king is not Christ and a system which denies the only one who ever really really loved them.  

It almost made me cry, to be honest.

Nevertheless, things continue to change here in the Netherlands and points of light seem to be peaking through the darkness.  Enjoy the following article (thanks for the link Tim!) in its full below, or follow the link here (be warned of the opening picture):

Dutch authorities have revealed details of their plans to clean up Amsterdam’s famous red light district.

They say they will close half the city’s brothels, sex shops and marijuana cafes in a bid to drive organised crime from the city centre.

Council officials gave the sex industry a warning a year ago that they were going to close some brothels.

The deputy mayor of Amsterdam says the plans will stop the city being a “free zone” for criminals.

Last year the city said it wanted to close one-third of the red light district’s brothels, where scantily-clad prostitutes display themselves in shop windows.

But the new measures aim to reduce the number of sex “windows” from 482 to 243, a council spokesman said.

Amsterdam also wants to close half of the 76 marijuana shops in the city centre.

City centre ‘decay’

The city council says that some other businesses are also related to the decay of the city centre, including peep shows, sex shows, mini-supermarkets, phone and souvenir shops, and they will also be shut down.

 

“Money laundering, extortion and human trafficking are things you do not see on the surface but they are hurting people and the city. We want to fight this,” said Deputy Mayor Lodewijk Asscher.

“We can still have sex and drugs but in a way that shows the city is in control.”

Officials have set aside some 39m euros (£33m) to bring back hotels, boutiques, galleries and restaurants to the area.

‘Tolerant and crazy’

The plans come just days after a national ban on hallucinogenic or “magic mushrooms” from shops known as Smart Shops.

The BBC’s correspondent in the Netherlands, Geraldine Coughlan, says the latest plans go much further than had been expected.

Critics say the crackdown in Amsterdam is the latest example of a hardening of the traditional liberal Dutch approach to social issues including prostitution and soft drug use.

But Mr Asscher said that the changes would be more in line with Amsterdam’s image as a “tolerant and crazy place, rather than a free zone for criminals”.

“It will be a place with 200 windows (for prostitutes) and 30 coffee shops, which you can’t find anywhere else in the world – very exciting, but also with cultural attractions,” he said, adding: “And you won’t have to be embarrassed to say you came.”

Prostitution will be allowed only in two areas in the district – notably De Wallen, a web of streets and alleys around the city’s medieval retaining dam walls.

The area has been a centre of prostitution for hundreds of years.

Prostitution was legalised in the Netherlands in 2000, formalising a long-standing tolerance.

Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but prosecutors will not press charges for possession of small amounts. Coffee shops are able to sell it openly. 

It says there are indications that some red light businesses serve as a cover for organised crime, including drugs and the trafficking of women.

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More Missionaries!

August 23, 2008

You may already know that our friends Nathan and Anna Younger are planning on ministering in the Netherlands (watch their Youtube channel for more info), but most of you probably haven’t heard about Cam Wyenberg.

You may not know him, like him or agree with him, but I love what Cam had to say this last week on his blog as he explained why he is going to minister in Amsterdam!  (Check out Cam’s blog here!)  All I have to say is good work Cam!  I’m excited to have you just twenty minutes away from us!

Stan the pastor of Calvary Chapel Hoofdorp sent me this email recapping Crossroads’ ministry over these past two and a half weeks: 

Hey Joey-

 

Just a quick note to let you know how the outreach went from my perspective. Aside from the apparent ‘changes’ at the YWAM base, which resulted in less opportunity for the team to minister with them, the outreach was a blessing.  I met with Kari and Ryan on their first Friday and ran through the logistics of the Sunday service, meeting the students & parents, etc.  They told me that YWAM was quite inflexible which was somewhat of a disappointment for them. I am impressed with how Kari and Ryan handled the situation. Without you or Paul Jones being there to ‘take the bull by the horns’, they went with the flow and allowed the Lord to lead them.

 

Kary, Ryan and Robert led worship for us that Sunday and did a really good job. After the service we had a luncheon and a time of fellowship at the bungalow with the whole church, so they got a chance to meet and mingle with the body.  The Passion Week, as it was called this time was very good for both groups. Instead of being overly busy with YWAM and evangelism, they really spent a lot of quality time with each other. It seems that this time spent together has been very valuable in building relationships. In fact when the group came out this Tuesday to join our youth group, Kari said to me yesterday that it didn’t feel like they were coming to someone else’s church, but that she felt at home; part of the the fellowship. This really blesses me for all the apparent reasons.

 

Yesterday Marnie and I spent half the day with the team in Haarlem. I insisted that they do the Corrie ten Boom Museum tour and they loved it.  All in all I believe that the Lord did an awesome work in both groups. It wouldn’t surprise me if more future foreign missionaries would come out of the team. The Lord knows…

 

Anyway, thank you for sending them our way. We (the church) are an experience richer and foresee the Lord using this trip to bring forth much fruit.

 

Blessings and grace to you three!

Stan

What an awesome report!  Again, don’t forget to catch up with the ministry they did in Amsterdam.  Follow the links on the left (to Ryan, Cam and Kari’s blogs) to find out more!

 

Crossroads’ Amsterdam team left today to go minister for the next 16 days on the streets of Holland’s capitol!  Traveling with them were Shey and Arto–our two Dutch friends who have been here the last three weeks. 

While it was sad to see them all go–especially going without me–I am excited for the ministry the Lord has laid before them!  As one of the planners of the trip, I get a bit of a preview of the Lord’s working in this trip.  This time last week we were wondering how that last $4,500 would come in, or (I should say) who the Lord was going to use to provide it.  Surprise, surprise that God has done it again, but I don’t think that provision will ever stop being thrilling to see!  God is so good!  Check out these sites for more updates from the team members Ryan Topper and Cam Wyenberg.

Traveling ahead of the team are Ryan Topper (who just arrived in Amsterdam this morning by God’s grace) and Alicia Smith, who has been in Hungary attending Calvary Chapel’s missions training school (and is pictured).  I would love to see (and facilitate) this sort of thing, where we are releasing people into ministry like this.  I love it, and it gets my imagination going…Where could this make a difference in Amsterdam?  Perhaps at the 19,000 student university in Amsterdam…?
Smitty!

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