God wil het! – XIV – Reizen in het spoor van de kruisvaarder

Jeruzalem: God wil het!

‘Jeruzalem sla uw ogen op en zie de bevrijder,
 die uw boeien komt verbreken’ (Jesaja)

De Olijf berg

De Olijfberg

Vanuit de richting van Bethlehem trok het kruisleger door de heuvels van Judea naar Jeruzalem. Vanaf de Olijfberg keken ze neer op de muren en de heiligdommen van de oude stad, die net als in onze tijd verdeeld was in vier wijken: voor moslims, joden, Armeense christenen en Latijnse en orthodoxe christenen. De ongeveer vijfduizend christenen wonen tegenwoordig in de nabije omgeving van de Heilige-Grafkerk, de plaats waar Jezus zou zijn begraven na zijn kruisiging. Hier bevinden zich ook hun kerken, kloosters en pelgrimshuizen. De Franciscanen zijn de belangrijkste vertegenwoordigers van de Latijnse christenen en regelen hun zaken vanuit hun hoofdkwartier in het klooster van de Heilige Verlosser in de omgeving van de Jaffa poort. Met de Latijnen zijn de Grieks-Orthodoxen de meest dominant aanwezige christenen in het straatbeeld en in de wijk rond de Nieuwe poort bewoont hun kerkelijke elite de fraaiste huizen van de oude stad. Kleinere gemeenschappen zoals de Kopten, de Protestanten en de Ethiopiërs leven meer teruggetrokken in gebouwen die soms nog dateren uit de tijd van het vroegste christendom. De Ethiopische monniken wonen tussen de ruïnes van een door de kruisvaarders gebouwd klooster dat tegen de Heilige Grafkerk is aangebouwd. De Armenen namen aan het begin van de vierde eeuw als eersten het christendom aan en bewonen een van de grootste en ruimst opgezette wijken van de oude stad. Read more

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Abraham Kuyper and his South African Brethren

Abraham Kuyper

Abraham Kuyper

A smile of satisfaction must have appeared on Abraham Kuyper’s broad face while reading the letter that he had just received. It came from distant South Africa, and communicated congratulations from the governors of the Paarl Gymnasium on the opening of the Vrije Universiteit three months previously.

Devoted as we are to pure Reformed doctrine’, wrote chairman S.J. du Toit, ‘even at this southern outpost of the world, it gives us reason to glorify God’s holy name for placing this doctrine on the lamp stand through your work’.

Pious and hearty words, to which Kuyper could not but say ‘amen’. Besides, S.J. du Toit was not just anybody. Despite his youthfulness – he was not yet 34 years old, ten years younger than Kuyper himself – he was an extremely influential man in South Africa: he was a clergyman and author, founder of the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (1875), editor in chief of Di Patriot (1876) and founder of the Afrikaner Bond (1879). Everything pointed to the Afrikaners taking the lead in South Africa in the course of the following years, under the powerful leadership of this front man for the population of Hollandsch-Afrikanen at the Cape Colony. Moreover, Du Toit was Reformed, an opponent to liberalism in the NGK and in society in general, and an advocate for Christian schooling. In the letter of congratulation from Du Toit, therefore, Kuyper could read a declaration of support from a brother, a kindred spirit and an ally. Read more

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Bamanya: Books in the Jungle

Honoré Vinck
Portrait by Ingrid Bouws

Mbandaka is the centre of the world, if you stand in front of a world map and draw a diagonal cross. It is where Henry Morton Stanley founded an ‘outpost of progress’: Equator Station, the beginning of the history of this small town on the equator. Nowadays Mbandaka is one of the biggest towns in Congo, with an estimated population of 100.000-150.000 inhabitants. Located on the river Congo, it is a poor town, with little or no industry.

Traces of ‘l’époque coloniale’ can be found in the town centre. Along wide streets stand beautiful houses, or their remains, where the colonials once lived. Thirty years of decay have not left much intact. Mbandaka is the capital of the province of Equateur. The region is looked upon with some condescendence by the rest of Congo: it is the land of hunters and fishermen.

The mission village Bamanya is located ten kilometres outside of Mbandaka. The sandy road that leads there is paved with gaps and holes, many of them filled with yellowish water.

On the first morning of my stay there, the sound of jubilation wakes me up. Some two hundred children’s voices singing make the best alarm ever. Once a week the children of the mission school walk to a village nearby, singing the whole journey.
It is six thirty. I take a cold shower and when I get dressed, sweat is running down my face. Read more

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