About a month ago our church welcomed its newest members, the Asp family- Eric, Marci, Elliot, Olivia and Cor. The Asps spent the last 9+ years serving as missionaries (and Eric as a pastor) with a church in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. As Dutch leaders were trained and prepared to provide leadership of the church, Eric and Marci began praying about their next step in ministry. It was a tremendous honor to all of us in Kent when we got word that they would be moving here to join the staff team at h2o KSU. Eric maintains an impressive blog and had been faithfully writing there for years now. We thought it would be fun (and an easy way for me to get my blog up and running again) to interview each other for our blogs. The idea is simple: I ask him 3 questions and post his replies on my site; he asks me 3 questions and posts my replies on his site.
Here are my three questions and Eric’s answers:
What will you miss most about the city of Amsterdam? the people of Amsterdam? Up to this point, I’ve really noticed that I miss the bicycling culture of Amsterdam. The whole city – and even between cities – is set up for people on bicycle: their own traffic lanes, traffic lights, parking solutions, repair shops, etc. The flatness of the landscape in the Netherlands also makes that mode of transportation easy, efficient, and widespread. But more than the bicycles, the cafés, and the museums, what I really miss about Amsterdam is the friends that we made there: friends from our church, friends from our kids’ school, friends from our neighborhood. I could list dozens of names of the dearly-beloved people that we’ve left behind – but if I were to try and summarize their qualities in a more general way, I’d say that I’m going to miss their global perspective and their intellectual curiosity.
How did your time in Amsterdam affect your understanding of the Church (universal)? of mission? of the nature of God? Funny the way that you frame this question because I’d say that one of the biggest changes in my understanding of God, mission, and the Church was learning that these are all an integrated whole – and not three separate elements of the Christian experience. While working in the middle of one of the most liberally-minded, post-Christian, secularized cities in the world, I came to realize that God is (and has always been) on mission – actively reaching out to redeem the world He created in many different forms. He doesn’t wait for us to come to Him; He takes the initiative with us – and the ultimate fulfillment of this “redemption initiative” is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I knew this in an intellectual way before moving to Amsterdam, but somehow I feel that I experienced God’s redemption in a more complete way during my years there in the city. Consequently, I also started to think about the church a lot more as a group of people on mission. I started to realize that we in the church can’t always wait for seekers to come to us; rather we must go on their turf and meet them where they’re at, and I’d say this has been a pretty fundamental shift in the way I’ve come to understand Christian ministry.
Who is your favorite author (in any literary realm) and why? I want to say John Steinbeck (and I really do enjoy his writing) – but honestly, this is more of an answer that I would give if I was trying to increase my literary credibility. Truthfully, I think my favorite author is Douglas Coupland. I enjoy the way he thinks, the way he uses language, and the way he tells stories. They’re compelling and entertaining, but also meaningful and provocative. His collection of short stories, “Life After God” is one of my top-five books of all time.