Cooperation between a construction company and a prayer house in Breukelen

“This house is a thresholdless place where people can encounter God”

Three sisters working side by side with the owners of a construction company to see their dream come true. Marie-Louise  has always lived in Breukelen, Willeke and Marit returned to their native village a few years ago. Marit read a book of Pete Greig a few years ago. She did not see how she could start a 24/7 house of prayer in the village where she lived back then. But when she was moving back to her native village, the place where her sisters live as well, she read the book again and began thinking about starting a house of prayer with her sisters.

driezussenShe encouraged her sisters to read the book as well. Willeke says: “Normally Marit was the one who worries far too much, but after reading the book she said: Read this, it is really possible what the writer says. My first thought was: ‘Something happened to Marit’. Both Marie-Louise and I started reading the book in the summer of 2014 and it touched us also and we became as enthusiastic as Marit. It resonated the passion which is in our heart: let people experience what it is like to set apart time for God in a special room and find out how powerful prayer is.”

Two weeks of prayer

We started to organize two weeks of 24/7 prayer in January 2016 and united with other intercessors. In the past 25 years there has been a group of intercessors praying for Breukelen and they were the first we informed about this initiative. We also informed prayer contacts at the primary schools and in other churches and we talked to all the pastors of Breukelen. “Meanwhile we were looking for a building and I (Willeke) ride my bike through Breukelen praying to God for a building and at some point I met Jan van Schaik, one of the owners of Bouwbedrijf Van Schaik and he said: I think we have a building for you. It was a very old building, but we felt like a million dollars. It was old and worn out. We were looking for a building where people could freely go in and out, day and night. We thought there was not such a building, but when we saw the building Jan offered us, we saw that this place has a lock box, which meant we, ourselves, did not have to stay day and night. Everyone who wanted to pray could enter the building with the key out of the lock box. What we thought of as a problem, was not a problem at all. The situation changed so quickly that it scared us a bit, because we did not know what to do, but we did it anyway.”

New building

At a certain point the building had to be demolished and we had to find a new building. We heard that Jan’s father, Nico van Schaik, was figuring out for many years how he could create an exposition where he could bring his business partners to share the gospel through visuals. He did not succeed in achieving that goal. While sharing our thoughts about a house of prayer, he suggested to combine both thoughts, his and ours, and work together in making it happen.
We named our house of prayer already ‘De Bovenkamer’ (The Upper Room), to refer to the upper room where the disciples prayed and to refer to the place where you go to to pray. In the conversation with Nico van Schaik we heard that he named his project also De Bovenkamer, but he never told anyone this name. At that point we knew that this was the confirmation that we should cooperate.
We started renovating the upper floor of a building In the same street as the construction company. The upper floor was one big room and we could design freely, remodel and decorate it. Willeke and her husband graduated from the art school and together with their brother-in-law they worked out the plans. “Soon we agreed that there had to be a round room in the center. We can play footage at the round walls, that is more modern than paintings. We make this movie ourselves.

There's no stopping it…

The changeover from the old building to the new one was a heavy period for the three of them due to personal circumstances. It got so bad that we said to each other: Shouldn’t we stop? But the renovation got along very smoothly. When we visited the building, we only had to say how we wanted the building to look like and it was arranged for us. We experienced an abundance in blessings and knew God was preparing big things for us. But we paid a price for that in our personal lives and that is not finished yet. We strongly believed that is was not the time to quit. We came so far and the renovation continued. There’s nog stopping it and that’s why we knew that we were on the right track.”

Freedom and peace

gebedshuisbreukelenNow we have this beautiful own building with lots of possibilities to pray. Together or all by yourself, with words or in praying while creating something visual, or just to be still in God’s present. Three days a week there is a host to welcome visitors, but people can use the room 24/7 hours a day because this room also has a lock box. The people of Breukelen find their way to us more and more. The atmosphere in De Bovenkamer communicates that there is no obligation to do something. Visitors notice when they enter the room that there is freedom and peace in the room. The don’t have to follow rules.
Marie Louise: “This house is a thresholdless place where people can encounter God and it is my desire that people whose faith has been scarred by the churches, encounter God in this place in a whole new way.”

Willeke: “Yesterday one of the hosts was ill and my first thought was: Let’s put a not at the door that we don’t have a host today and they can let themselves in with the key out of the lock box. But then I realized there is a drawing board in the room where I can make my sketching task and be the host at the same time. I did not expect anyone to come. So I was drawing when an elderly man entered who had visited our old house of prayer. I invited him to sit with me and drink a cup of coffee. Two people who are not likely to meet each other on the street, but now we talked deeply for two hours about reconciliation.
We see that this is a room where people encounter God and where people who work in the kingdom of God can catch their breath and connect with one another. Willeke and her family have dinner once a month in the common area and it is her desire more people will join them. “We are getting more recognizable for the people in Breukelen. Recently we were asked to join a public consultation where they questioned us about who we are and what our activities are.”

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