Who are you?
I am Clare Darnell and I was in Belgium from December 2010 - July 2012. I am 30 years old and I live in Michigan, United States.
Short word on your time in Belgium?
My Gap year was a transformative time in my life. I went shortly after graduating from university in 2010. My first year, I lived in a women’s household with Kim Van Den Zegel, Marie-Sophie Vanderstuyft, and Claire Vanderstuyft. I had a WONDERFUL time living with those ladies. We lived in Leuven in a house with very steep stairs and a bathroom in the garden. We had so many moments of serving, laughing, praying, and sharing our hearts with each other. My second year I lived just outside the ring-road in Leuven with the new Gappers Marisa Peine and Kate Stevenson. Later, Aline Tavernier joined our household. There were also a great number of adventures and growth in the new house.
My first year in Belgium my services were with Pharos- meeting students one on one to build relationships with them and share the Gospel, doing coffee stalls, helping to organize social events or prayer meetings; and helping on retreats. My second year included many of the same services but I was the Assistant Gap Director, under Sam Geleyn.
Through my services, my relationships, and the beautiful Jerusalem Community, my two years in Belgium was healing, restorative, life-giving, and a time where I drew closer to the Lord and chose for community life in a deeper way.
What is the best memory of your time in Belgium?
How can I choose just one memory?! It’s impossible to choose a favorite, but one memory that left a lasting impression on me was my very first Jerusalem prayer meeting. We had mass and it was such a vibrant celebration! I was awed by the beauty of all the cultures coming together as one to worship Jesus. The music, the languages, the people -all of it moved my soul!
Of course other memories stand out to me as well - Christmas with the Laureys, Lord’s Days with various families, doing pranks with my housemates, Pharos weekends, being prayed over by Noemi and Paul, organizing a joint Christian worship night, riding into town on my bike, visiting so many Jerusalem members, getting to know the moms and being able to serve them, the list goes on and on!
A little word on your life right now?
I am living in Michigan and I sell textbooks to schools. I view my job as a gift from God because when I was offered the position, I wasn’t sure if I wanted it, but the Lord has blessed my work and I receive a lot of joy from it. I live with 3 Catholic women and we have meals once a week together and pray with each other. My home is a place of peace for me and I’m grateful for it. I am an underway member of the Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor where I supervise the high school youth program. Starting in February, I will be helping to lead a young adult Alpha course at my church. Finally, I still love playing sports and regularly play volleyball, basketball, and softball.
Do you have a message for the people of Jerusalem?
Almost a decade after I lived in Belgium, I am still moved by my experience and all you have done for me. You may be small, but the Lord continues to use you. Do not be discouraged. Do not doubt the breath of Life God has breathed into you, Jerusalem. Your sacrifice and hard work does not go unnoticed by the Lord. Each one of your lives matters and you as individuals, and you as Jerusalem are significant. Have hope, be a light! Alleluia!
What can we pray for?
Please pray for the Alpha course at my church. Please also pray that I may have grace to trust God and wait on Him.