Greetings from The Hague!
I came here with Operation Capitals of Europe (OCE) to pray for the Netherlands. Although Amsterdam is named as the capital of the Netherlands, The Hague is where the Parliament is. Yesterday and the day before we met at the Justice House of Prayer here. I was delighted to learn that there are many houses of prayer throughout the Netherlands, and that there is a lot of cooperation and collaboration between them.
Our first day here, the director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies at University of the Nations came and spoke to us about the history of Netherlands from a Christian perspective. The Schuman Centre promotes biblical perspectives on Europe, its Christian heritage and future. The thing I loved about hearing him speak is that he maintains a hopeful outlook for the future (of both the Netherlands and Europe in general), while being honest about how far they have fallen away from the faith.
Next we heard from the coordinator of the European Economic Summit, which will be in Amsterdam this weekend. Her story is pretty amazing. She shared that she had the same attitude toward money that many Christians have: that enough is enough, but we don’t need to be rich. We all know about the greedy televangelists who sell healing prayers and spend all their wealth on themselves. But God revealed to her that money is to be our servant. So she and her husband decided that they wanted wealth so that they could tithe 90 percent and live off the remaining 10 percent. Just think if the world’s Christians began to think this way about money. What a lot of good we could do in this world. Now that thought excited me. We were all inspired by what she shared.
One other thing that our hosts shared with us is that the next day (yesterday) was Prinsjesdag, the 200th anniversary of the first speech from the King of the Netherlands. So we prayed about it and decided to go to the parade route and bless the king on his way to Parliament. Willem Alexander took the throne just last year when his mother, Princess Beatrix stepped down. The king’s speech is about the coming year’s budget, and is written and approved by parliament. So he’s giving a speech to them that they wrote for him. Last year he ended his speech by saying: “Join me in praying for strength and God’s blessing upon you.” In this pluralistic, politically correct world, it takes courage to live your faith openly—especially when you’re a public figure.
So we went to the parade route, where I made this observation: Dutch people are tall. I saw only the head and shoulders of the cavalrymen on horseback (and the ears of the horses). When the king’s gold carriage went by, all I could see was phones held high, recording it all. Although I would like to have seen the king, I wasn’t there for that as much as to pray for him, which I did.
We later heard that this year’s speech, he ended with: “In discharging your duties, you may feel supported in the knowledge that many are wishing you wisdom and join me in praying for strength and God’s blessing upon you.” So even though the king’s speech is written for him, it’s nice to know that he adds his own prayer and blessing at the end of the speech.
Peace Palace at The Hague
After lunch we went to the Peace Palace to pray. The Peace Palace is where the International Court of Justice (the judicial branch of the United Nations) meets. It is also where the Permanent Court of Arbitration meets. Unfortunately neither judicial body is able to enforce their judgments. And to me that seems sadly symbolic of the Peace Palace, itself, because it was built in 1913—the year before World War I broke out.
Today we went to the Parliament building to meet with an MP. He is a member of one of the three Christian parties. He was adamant about his desire to end prostitution by jailing the johns. He proposed a scaled-back version of the Swedish anti-prostitution laws, and the head of his own party refused to back it. So he prayed about it, and one-by-one met with various heads of the other political parties over the next few weeks—all scheduled and organized by God because he hadn’t sought them, but they each called him. He told each about his proposal, and most agreed, including some key leaders. With their backing, he went back to his own party, and they said that he could present it, but not under the party’s banner. So please keep this courageous MP in your prayers for the next few weeks. I would love to see the shame (and sham!) of legalized prostitution end.
Then our guide took us on a tour of the Parliament building. We sat in for about 20 minutes on a Parliamentary session, but there was no translation. That was OK because we were really there more to pray than to watch. Our guide works for one of the Christian parties, and she showed us her office. Her window has a view of the central square where protests and demonstrations are made. It is an ideal place to pray when there is a protest of some sort.
Christian Party Office window’s view of the square
After lunch we went to the International Criminal Court and sat in on part of a trial. Having worked for lawyers, I have always been fascinated by courtroom proceedings. The other members of the team were mostly bored by the proceedings because of the endless repetition of various phrasings of the same question.
International Criminal Court Building at The Hague
Now I understand why the house of prayer here is called the Justice House of Prayer. Indeed, the Hague is an international center for justice (or at least, it should be). God is the only truly just Judge, and He will right all the injustices of this world. God is good!