Sunday, 06 March 2016

Heritage Hunt Antwerp

written by John Oostdyk

Digging for spiritual gold among historic rubble

Heritage Hunt Antwerp

We walked and talked, listened to the stories about the spiritual heritage of a city with five amazing cathedrals.

March 6, a cold Sunday in Antwerp for the seventy plus youth and leaders who got together to explore just a tiny part of the spiritual remains of a city once a beacon of light but also a city of turmoil where the battle between Protestants and Roman Catholics raged fiercely a few centuries ago.

We discovered the city through a game that was put together by the team of interns and European volunteers (EVS-ers) led by Christina D'Onofrio from New York.

Most of the groups came from just across the border in The Netherlands; from Oud Vossemeer, Goes, Zaamslag, Zouteland, Kruiningen and Kapelle And from as far away as Houten.

The day started with a youth service at the Antwerp International Protestant church at 10.45 and ended at 15.30 at the St Andrew Roman Catholic Cathedral with a MeetPoint and a very welcome hot chocolate drink!

In smaller groups of about twenty five per group we travelled different paths through the city discovering special places and events and meeting people who are passionate about the city and about the Gospel. Johanneke runs a coffee bar just outside of the red light district. Hearing her story of how she ministers to girls caught in the web of human trafficing and helps bring them out into the light, was inspiring. Or hearing Drienie, missionary from South Africa, tell of her love for the city and for the Lord in the underground Pelgrom cafe, was equally inspiring. In all, there were fourteen of such stories.

As we dug deeper we also found out about the lives of strangers in this city. One of them was William Tyndale, translator of the first English Bible, a well known name in Protestant circles, but not so well known among Roman Catholics. William Tyndale was hiding in Antwerp to smuggle Bibles out to England in the days of Henry the VIII, was caught and burned to the stake here on October 6, 1536.