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MTW summer intern Lauren Colt (center) with fellow interns in Brussels

Door-to-Door: Ministry in the Brussels Entryway

By Lauren Colt, Jan 17, 2023

Brussels, Belgium, is a city of doors.

In Etterbeek, the municipality I and six other college-age interns called home this summer, polished mahogany panels stretch heavenward next to chipping mint green paint. Cheerful yellow entryways invite you to step closer. Neighboring walls shrouded in ivy whisper of long-embraced isolation. Towering or tiny, each marks the entrance to a story.

Doors hold a special place in God’s story of redemption too. The Israelites mark their doorposts with sacrificial blood. A red cord in Rahab’s doorway protects her household. Leviticus and Numbers spend ages detailing measurements for the tabernacle’s door—the symbolic separation between a holy God and His broken people. Jesus calls Himself the door to salvation (John 10), and the apostles admire how God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14).

I couldn’t help but remember these passages as I brushed my fingers across beautiful doors this summer.

Group Shot

The Knock

They particularly stood out during our team’s “Evangelism Week” in the city of Ghent. As some of my friends poured their hearts into games of football or Uno with local Turkish kids, the other half of the team ventured out into nearby neighborhoods for “door-to-door ministry.”

In each alley, we lined up, one person per door, with a printed invitation to an evening of games, fellowship, and music at the newly reopened local church. Our assignment? Remind residents that 1) the church still exists, 2) the building could be a space for community connection, and 3) the pastor cares for each of them.

Alleyway

In each entryway, I’d take a deep breath, zero in on the intricate knocker or doorbell, listen to our leader whisper a prayer on my left.

And then I’d knock.

My knuckles rap on navy blue wood. The fluttering feeling in my stomach grows as I count seconds. Five. Six. Summoning my courage and my smile. Seven. Eight. Collecting my words. “Hello! I would love to invite you—” Nine. Ten. Eleven. Wondering if they’re coming. Twelve. Thirteen.The door flies open, and I’m met with …

The Response

As I learned over the past two months, reactions to a Christian knock (whether the literal tap or the metaphorical entrance into a stranger’s life) are as varied as the languages spoken in Brussels. And, as a hub of the European Union, the city boasts quite a few. But to give you a taste, I met these three most often:

Door Number One: The Surprised Grin

“That’s fascinating! Are you sure you’re not Catholic?”

As part of our work with the Brussels Community Church-Planting Project, we spent several hours a week researching the livelihoods, languages, and locals in our area to get a snapshot of the region. Equipped with the research we collected, our head missionary, Daniel, and his team will be far better prepared to plant a culturally relevant and need-sensitive church in the next two to three years.

In-person interviews were a daunting final assignment. During our fifth week in Belgium, my friend Meg and I wove through the picnic blankets dotting Parc du Cinquantenaire. Determined to find someone who spoke English, we approached group after group with questions about needs and spirituality in the region. Success was minimal until … we stumbled upon an unsuspecting blanket of graduate students.

Astonished to hear we had traveled all the way from the United States and shared the same fields of study, they were all too happy to trade stories about education, compare and contrast Belgian and American policy, and inquire more about the Protestant church we attended (as, like most Belgians, they had only ever interacted with Catholicism). I have never had such a captive audience.

Door Number Two: The Hesitant Frown

“Your smile … is it always that big?”

One night as we served dinner at the local refugee center, the grizzled man reaching for the bowl of split-pea soup in my hands stopped me with a question. How could I, my shoes covered in greenish droplets, my shirt soaked in sweat from stirring the pot, summon the joy to crinkle my eyes at him?

One of the center volunteers scoffed out a similar question as he watched Caroline, Corrie, and I cheerfully accept a tray of dirty dishes. “How can you say, ‘oh perfect!’”? Are you just naturally cheery?” I smiled because nope, I’m not. When running on my own steam (and not the Lord’s strength), I grumble as much as the next person. Rinsing the cup in my hand, I explained that something as small as washing a dish can be a tangible way to serve where I’m needed and to follow in the footsteps of the God I call my own.

After some disgruntled murmuring, the British gentleman made sure to clarify that he was “noht a’ tall spiritual” and to express his shock that a Christian would be interested in serving the community. But over the next few weeks, his cynicism faded. By the end of our internship, he had so warmed up that he invited the whole group over for dinner.

Door Number Three: The Wailing Rejection

“No! Go away, I don’t want your God! I hate God! I make my own path.”

Not all of my interactions this summer ended on a hopeful note. Door-to-door work was often demoralizing. Even relentless optimism falters when pitted against a curmudgeonly Flemish man wearing nothing but a bathrobe and a blustering snarl.

The doors slammed in my face forced me to reevaluate my preconceived notions about “missions.”

I’d initially felt a bit awkward telling people I was headed to Western Europe as a missionary. Expecting Kenya or Guatemala, supportive eyebrows often quirked in surprise or vague disappointment. I too was initially surprised by the number of European internships on MTW’s website—why send so many to first-world countries?

Daniel answered that question as we rode the tram into the city on our first day. “Material wealth often masks spiritual poverty.” Belgians’ great wealth doesn’t mean they are filled with great joy. That resounded in every slammed door. Hearing the spittle-ridden rants about religion, seeing the hopelessness behind the hollowed eyes of refugees, feeling the trembling anger or alarming apathy in the hands that accepted our church flyers, my heart shattered. Whether rich or rural, broken people need Jesus.

Jesus Knocks

One last thought on doors.

A video I’d taken in Ghent captures my deepest takeaway in seven seconds. My roommate, Macie, and I had gotten lost on our way to the city center and had paused to marvel at the place we found ourselves.

North, south, east, and west, doors stretched in every direction.

As my eyes danced from cherry oak to lavender pine, the Lord’s promise in Revelation 3:20 took on a whole new meaning. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” The Lord of the universe sacrificed everything to stand at my door and offer me His hand. How incredible that I get to act as His hands and feet in response. To walk down quiet streets, to knock on dusty doors. To share His good news with others.

Dishwashing

In neighborhoods across the street or the world, beautiful doors conceal broken hearts, desperate for something to fill a God-shaped hole. Our knocks may not always be welcome. Our “traveling salesman pitch” of the gospel may not be perfect. Our feet will get tired and our hands sore. But fueled by the overwhelming joy of the Lord, we can keep knocking. The weight of the world’s rescue does not lie on our shoulders. Yet our stories play a role.

As you and I walk through, drive across, or fly over the places we call home this year, may our eyes linger on door frames as often as the Lord’s do.

May their splendid distinctiveness fill us with wonder.

May we find courage and calling in the closeness of our mission field.

May we remember with joy that doors line alleyways across the globe.

… And we get to knock.

Interested in a 2023 summer internship? Get started by January 20 at mtw.org/interns.

Lauren Colt
Lauren Colt is a junior at Gordon College studying Political Science and Social Enterprise. When not on a European adventure, she loves to draw, do puzzles, and dissect the world's problems with family and friends.
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Pray for the ministry in Brussels, Belgium, and for quality relationships to be formed that would lead to Christ-focused conversations. 

Pray for MTW interns preparing to go to the field this summer, and for God to prepare the hearts of people who will be impacted by their service.

Pray for the ministry in Brussels, Belgium, as we reach out to internationals from many different cultures in this diverse city. 

Pray for college students around the world to be impacted through MTW’s partnership with RUF.

Pray for a small church in Athens, Greece that is reaching out to refugees with the love of Christ. Pray for the refugees there to hear the truth of the gospel. 

Pray for an Italian couple returning to their home country to church plant. 

Pray for ongoing work among refugees in Greece. 

Pray for MTW Ukraine's publishing ministry, translating and publishing Reformed materials in Ukrainian to equip pastors and laypeople in the Church.

Pray for the people of Mati, Greece, who are responding with spiritual openness following disaster response efforts of the Greek Evangelical Church and MTW. 

Pray for Spaniards in Madrid, a deeply secular, post-Christian environment where the Church is despised due to past atrocities. 

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