In 1981 Bert and Jenny got to know each other in Ghent, Belgium. We have now been married for 40 years we have two children and 5 grandchildren and we have lived in Amsterdam for over 30 years. We consider it part of our calling to be a blessing for this city and for our fellow human beings from 180 different nationalities and especially for the Muslims around us.
We want to seek the well-being of Amsterdam by being good neighbors and to be a positive influence in our neighborhood. In addition, we are active members of a local church community. Because as Christians we are given to each other by God given we can learn from God through other Christians.
Together we want to mean something for the world around us. Together as a couple, we are not only different in our personalities, but also in the kind of work we do and in the way we do it . Our passion is the same: to share our lives with Muslims in order to build bridges between Christians and Muslims, but the way we carry out this passion differs. Jenny is more people oriented and invests time in personal relationships with Muslims. Bert is a bridge builder, and develops closer interaction between Christians and Muslims through social involvement and , training in order to strengthen relations between the two groups and to remove prejudices. Our passion connects us together as a couple and with the people around us. It makes who we are.
With Sharing Lives we are talking about sharing our lives, not just sharing knowledge. If you want to have real contact with people it requires more than saying ‘good morning’ to them. Sharing our life sharing with people in our church or neighborhood is much more. In our situation we have a special interest in Muslims. It is about sowing seeds and maintenance. But before sowing can take place, the mines (prejudices, fears) must be removed. In this way the soil can be prepared for sowing. We are a link in someone's life. It is a process in which we take part.
Jenny works as a nurse with a multi cultural home care organization and invests in lives of people that have become their friends.
Bert has done various academic courses. These courses helped him to supplement his practical experience with theoretical knowledge. However, at the core, Beert is a practitioner first and then a professor. He wants to makes theory practical. Likewise in making connections between Muslims and Christians. For example, to build a bridge between an imam and a pastor so that they can serve the neighborhood together. Theory is necessary, theories determine why you do certain things and why you don't do certain things do. But that not the end of the story. To make bridge building practical Bert wrote several training courses and he speaks and writes.
Jenny about Sharing Lives
Bert is the bricks and I am the joint and together we are the foundation. We have been working like this for more than 40 years year. Even though the work has changed, we are facing the same direction. That's never changed. We work together a lot with marriage training and discuss a lot of things. Despite the fact that we often work together, our personalities and our way of working is completely different. This means it is never boring!
Bert about Sharing lives
Jenny are I are very different are we complement each other. Whereas I usually set out the organizational lines Jenny gives the interpretation. Jenny is just Jenny. I'm thinking about it. I put out a program and Jenny, being the person she is, makes the connection. For example, at a conference she sometimes brings a pair of hairdressing scissors, just in case someone starts talking about the hair, she can do something about that. It doesn't have to be officially organized. It may arise spontaneously and develop into a personal conversation. Jenny also often uses the phrase: We are a fragrance of Christ. The effect of this does not necessarily depend on the smell, but on the receiver. So you don’t the outcome in your own hands. Whether the smell you spread is a stench or a perfume, often has more to do with the way the other person reacts to it, than how you deal with it yourself.