In this atypical time in which we are living we have the opportunity to reinforce and re-signify one of
the needs we have: “We need each other”. Moreover, the Bible (1 Cor. 12) calls us the body of Christ,
which reveals a member’s inability to do all the work alone. And to complement the work on
interculturality and to hear more about what God is doing in the Netherlands, emerged what we call
“Inspirational Talks”. This time Anne-Marie Dane interviews Pieter-Jan Rodenburg.
Can you practice what you preach?
Having been brought up with faith in God and having been blessed in this, Pieter-Jan Rodenburg, his
wife and a few friends got the desire to ‘be church’ not just on Sundays. “Based on the values we are
learning in the church and which we preach to each other, we felt the need to live our lives in a
practical way, each day. If your faith does not involve good news for your surroundings, then
something is wrong. We asked ourselves the crucial question: Can you practice what you preach?”
Taste! Delft: especially a good neighbor
Taste! is situated in the center of the Voorhof district, in Delft. It is a place where everybody is
welcome. When talking to the pioneer of this Christian community, I discover a heart and attitude
which makes me wonder, one that is humbling. Based on their desire to be relevant for the people in
their area, a few families started living together in a former community building. A place that is big
enough to welcome people from all kinds of backgrounds. The beautiful garden got transformed to
neighborhood garden, with space to play and to rest, to meet others and get to know each other.
Taste! was born; a place that is all about enjoying, meeting, and starting in-depth relationships. On
Friday we have dinner together and ‘hang out’ in the neighborhood café, on Sunday there is an
intercultural service, every other week there are small groups where people from the neighborhood
meet at each other’s homes, they organize nice activities for the neighborhood, and every now and
then enjoy a living room concert. But above all, the people of Taste! simply want to be a good
neighbor and get to know their neighbors.
What do we do with that gap?
So far it sounds like a success story with a good basis, an inspiring motivation and a fairy-tale like
work. But it isn’t always easy. In this area, you will find huge differences in many ways and several
challenges in the living conditions. Different cultures, economic inequality, psychological problems,
addiction and loneliness.
Pieter-Jan: “I, a ‘white’ highly educated Dutchman from a loving and stable family, regularly
experience a gap between me and the people living in my neighborhood. In order to bridge this gap,
sometimes all you can do is listen and start a relationship. The people I met initially, feel I can never
understand them, for I am so different. Trust needs to grow, and that takes time.”
Successful custom-made solutions
There are also success stories to be told. Rewards from a long-term, customized approach. Pieter-Jan
invited somebody who often frequented the homeless bench around the corner to come to the
neighborhood BBQ. The man had huge debts and had lost his home after the police found illegal
cannabis plants there. He suffered from a posttraumatic stress syndrome, had problems with the law
and was addicted to alcohol. But he did come to the BBQ.
“That first time he was drunk. But in the neighborhood garden he found a place where he felt
welcome. Slowly but surely we got a better contact, we did garden work together and eventually he
even became a friend of the house. That was a slow process during which we built a relationship and
were able to help this man in many areas of his life. Now, years later, he has a house again, he is not
addicted anymore, and he has a future. This is not a spectacular story of a radical conversion and
drastic steps. These stories take time, they take a long-term approach and perseverance. But recently
we asked the attendees to a Sunday service to say who Jesus is for them. This man said, ‘Jesus is my
savior’. I am so thankful for this. This truly is a success story.”
Grateful for ICP
“Exactly because this work is about the long-term, it is so important to have a close network of
people who inspire and encourage one another. I am grateful for the role ICP plays for us in this. As a
team, we did the ICP Team Training. There we learned a lot about discipleship and intercultural living
and thinking. I myself was coached by Hans (Euser) and I am happy with his input, advice and
involvement at Taste!.”
The story of Taste! and Pieter-Jan shows we can truly mean something for our society, for our fellow-
countrymen and for our immediate surroundings. With hearts full of passion and care, with faith and
patience, and with each other’s help we can put in practice the calling God gives us to accept and
love each person.
Want to know more? INFO Taste Delft:
Nice movie clip with good message by Pieter-Jan in the neighborhood garden.