In the year 2001 the first steps were taken which developed into the Foundation “Bread of Life”, serving the poor, sick, homeless and needy in Poland. By then we as Van den Berg Family were just a young couple, trying to find its role in society and to build a career.
Whoever would think that one day, many years later, this engineer from Holland, married to this interpreter and language teacher from Poland, would have the privilege and challenge to become responsible for the ministry of Bread of Life in Poland?
Well, we know that God prepares His special ways for us, and we’re excited to share a bit of that, at least from that part that we know by now, with you!
Coming to Poland
Reinier was raised in a Christian family in the Netherlands, where he went to school in Rotterdam and studied Civil Engineering in Delft to become an engineer at the department of Traffic Studies in the Dutch Ministry of Transport. Then, in 1993, a promising civil career seemed ahead of him.
However, through involvement in international student ministry in the summer of 1994 he met in Spain, at a student camp, a wonderful girl from Poland, Maja. Could he neglect what he felt for her? Should he date a girl who would turn his just settled life upside down? He asked God to leave him no choice, and He proved to be faithful. He came to Poland and almost one year later got married with Maja.
Reinier came to Poland in 1995 as a traffic engineer, and that was the kind of job he thought he was going to have. However, again things turned out to be quite different. Because he was able to learn the difficult Polish language pretty fast (mainly thanks to Maja!) and because in the 1990’s Poland was a country in transition with many foreign investments, pretty soon he became project manager and investment consultant for Dutch companies and investors. So, he became a businessman, having the opportunity to really learn the interaction between people and money.
In the same time Maja was, within the context of the starting Foundation “Bread of Life”, leading a group of volunteers for an orphanage west of Poznań. There she served orphans ages 6 to 18 by passing on food and clothing, helping the kids with homework for school, organizing meetings to show the danger of various addictions, organizing crafts and trips, and sharing God’s heart for those kids who lack so much love.
Besides we actively served in church as Sunday School teachers and we were still, and over the years even more and more, involved in student ministry. For 8 years Reinier served on the national board of IFES-Poland (InterVarsity), after which in 2010 he joined the Council of Bread of Life.
In the years since 2010 Bread of Life in Poland was going through its teenage years, doing many wonderful things like homeless ministry, serving the poor with food and clothing, resocialization programs to provide chances for “a new life“ in society again, and especially, a life with Jesus Christ. Fruits have been abundant, with many touching stories.
We have two children, Jonathan of 20 and Jadwiga of 16 years old. Like all parents we see how special they are. Some children are gifted in sports, others in science or in arts. Our children are gifted in arts and blessed with a very sensitive heart, mainly after their mother .
And it was Maja who in 2009, at a camp for kids from poor families, saw the need of Kamila, an orphan from Warsaw who was being raised by her step-grandmother. The need to have parents and siblings. Since then Kamila has spent holidays and long weekends with our family, and we’re more than thankful to have seen her develop!
Kamila is 22 years old now, and although she’s suffering from a kidney disease (IgA nephropathy), she’s actively working and studying, living independently in Warsaw.
Director of Bread of Life
During the year 2017, mainly thanks to our son Jonathan, who as a young man from multi-cultural parents clearly understands himself as being different with a longing to study and serve outside of Poland, we got prepared, as a family, to serious changes. Didn’t God want more from us, than what we had been doing over the past 20 years?
When a major business project Reinier was involved in finished by the end of 2017, and when Bread of Life was facing the need for a new Director, who would add new structure to the Foundation and help lead the Foundation into new stages of maturity for multiplying the projects we are doing, it was clear that God was asking to serve!
So by January 2018 Reinier was voted the new Chairman for Poland for Bread of Life. A great challenge, but also a leap of faith. Mainly because of the simple fact that by resigning from consultancy our family got dependent on financial support from people who also have a heart to reach out to those in need!
You also can take part in carrying Bread of Life forward! By praying, partnering or by contributing to stable financial support. So we’ll be able to serve the poor and needy. As many as possible, as much as possible. Will you help us to give them a new future?
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
Maja & Reinier van den Berg
Jonathan, Jadwisia, Kamila