After 38 years working in finance for various companies, Wouter Boor was ready for a change. His wife, Emmy, whose background was in nursing and retail, and had been studying theology for several years, was ready, too.
In spring 2017, they heard that an M+Power mission training was scheduled for the Netherlands. They had felt an interest in serving cross-culturally, so they attended the weekend orientation event.
After the training, they were invited to serve for three months in Israel, filling in as leaders at the Jerusalem Church of the Nazarene while the congregation’s pastor couple, Shahade and Annabelle Twal, returned to Europe for missionary home assignment. Home assignment is a time when Nazarene missionaries speak in churches, usually in their home culture, to raise support for and awareness of Nazarene missions.
So at the end of 2017, the Boors reduced their lifestyle and Wouter quit his job.
It was the first time for the Boors to live and work cross-culturally, although they had visited Israel on holidays before.
The Jerusalem church is primarily English speaking, which made it easier for the Dutch couple to serve as summer leaders since they are also fluent in English.
Emmy led the services, including worship. She also swam at a nearby pool two days a week so she could get acquainted with Arabic-speaking women from the neighborhood. Wouter did painting at the church, and also drew on his financial background to help with bookkeeping. They both preached the gospel two times, which they said was a valuable experience. They visited a local prayer center where they would pray with other Christians. And they took time to visit other Nazarene churches to meet their brothers and sisters.
“We like to see that we are a part of the whole Church of the Nazarene worldwide,” Wouter said.
Being involved with Nazarene missions reinforced their understanding of what missionaries do, which can sometimes be a broad range of tasks and activities.
“If you look here at the small church, they have to do everything from changing the light bulbs to preaching and paying the bills. It’s a really all-around thing you need to do as a missionary. It’s not a one-person job,” Wouter said, adding they recognized how important it is that the Twals encourage members of the congregation to be involved in the work of the church throughout the week.
One of Emmy’s favorite moments was when the worship team was leading the singing during the weekly service, and a whole group of English students who were studying in the neighborhood wandered in and filled up the sanctuary.
“It was a very good feeling to see that the church was full of people. You feel glad that you have so many people. Still more people! Oh, where are they coming from? You are surprised that God brings people together.”
Wouter said one of his most memorable experiences was a cultural one: when getting a haircut, the hairdresser put a lighter next to his ears to burn away some of the hair.
“That is not done in Europe,” he said, laughing. “You have to say, ‘OK, do it,’ and hope that he understands when you say it needs to be a little bit shorter. He did a good job by the way.”
Because Wouter and Emmy had always had separate jobs, working together was a new experience they enjoyed.
“Instead of just living together, you start working together,” Wouter said. “That’s a different set of things. We also were able to manage that — what’s happening and talk it out. These are also the good things that help our marriage and ourselves for the future.”
The couple is open to another M+Power assignment, perhaps again filling in for missionaries who are gone for home assignment. Wouter said that their combination of skills and experiences would allow them to provide support in a number of areas, from organizing, finance, office work, leading worship and preaching.
“We said to each other, ‘Maybe there are more missionaries that want to go on home assignment and then we can take over a few weeks of their work,” Emmy said.
This article was previously published in the November 2018 edition of Where Worlds Meet from the Eurasia Region.