Known for its picturesque villages, windmills, tulips, and cheese, the Netherlands is a densely populated country in northwestern Europe on the North Sea. Almost half the country is less than three feet above sea level. An extensive series of dykes and innovative engineering have allowed the Dutch to reclaim land from the sea, while preventing their country from flooding. The Dutch love to say God created the world, but the Dutch made the Netherlands.
During the seventeenth century, considered by many its Golden Age, people from the Netherlands dominated the seas as explorers and merchants. In 1602 the Dutch Parliament granted a 21-year charter to the Dutch East India Company to carry out colonial activities in its name throughout Asia. This became the first multinational corporation and the first company to issue stock. The Dutch invention of the sawmill gave the Netherlands the ability to build fleets of ships to carry goods around the world and defend itself from foreign attack. During this period the Dutch also excelled in cultural advances, science, and politics.
The Netherlands is widely known for its artistic contributions during its Golden Age. Artists such as Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer all made their homes there.
As Dutch merchants established what was considered the world’s first capitalist society, traditional social classes were virtually eliminated. Religious leaders lost influence as the period ushered in widespread religious tolerance. Many religious minorities found safe haven within the Netherlands.
The country is still known for its tolerance and openness to new people and ideas. Things considered illegal in most societies are openly accepted as normal. Today the Netherlands is a secular, post-modern country, in which more than 40 percent of the population has no religious profession.
The Hague, the Netherlands’ seat of government, is home to some of the foremost international legal entities, including the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and Europol, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency.
Dutch (official) Frisian (official)
Roman Catholic 31%; Dutch Reformed 13%; Calvinist 7%; Muslim 5.5%; other 2.5% no religion 41%
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
A group of Adventists in the western Netherlands is hoping to share God’s love with residents of their area. Just a little more than a year ago they started X-preszo, a church plant just outside The Hague. This congregation is creating a place where people can bring their friends and coworkers and introduce them to God. Beyond attending church, the members meet together in private homes during the week. They also have a social gathering each month during which the members can get to know one another and grow in their faith. For them, ministry is a way of life.
The Adventist Church in the Netherlands has an aggressive church-planting program targeting specific age and interest groups. The church is growing, especially among the Netherlands’ ever-burgeoning immigrant community.
Part of the second quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering for 2007 will help build a Ghanaian church in Amsterdam. To learn more about church planting in the Netherlands, watch the segment “Planting His Seeds” on this quarter’s Adventist Mission DVD and visit: www.AdventistMission.org.
Compiled by Hans Olson, Office of Adventist Mission.