Jesse plays table tennis at a high level in his teens. He is one of the best youth players in the Netherlands, wins the Dutch championship with his team and then plays in the premier league. At the age of nineteen, his sports career came to an abrupt end when he injured his wrist. A painful moment that triggers something beautiful: God begins to heal his heart. Little by little, book after book.
Without table tennis training and competitions, Jesse suddenly has a lot of time. He uses that time to read, including the Bible. When his injury is still simmering after a year and a half – Jesse is now very worried – a promise from Matthew comes to him enormously. Jesse: “Jesus says there that if the burden becomes too heavy, He will give rest. I prayed for that peace and felt God’s presence filling me. From that prayer, the words of the Bible came to life for me.”
Jesse’s interest in the Bible grows and grows. Although he has difficulty coming to terms with his feelings at that moment, he makes a clear choice for God with his mind. He decides to study theology in Leuven, Belgium. During his studies, Jesse gains many new insights, including about himself. He regularly hears from fellow students and teachers that he comes across as tense and slightly neurotic.
“I processed everything that came to me with my ratio. I felt no pain or need to process about things that had happened in the past. Apparently I reacted tensely to people, but I didn’t recognize that myself. It wasn’t until I was twenty-eight that I noticed for the first time: others didn’t seem comfortable being one-on-one with me.”
It is during this period that Jesse asks a classmate he has liked for years on a date. She says ‘no’. That rejection comes in hard: “Harder than it should have come in. I cried a lot. I understood in my mind that I was overreacting, but I didn’t know what to do with it. A week later I got a hernia. There I lay on my bed, with pain in my heart and my body.”
Like his wrist injury at the time, the hernia gives him time to think. Jesse: “Something had to change in my life. I just didn’t know what.” Then he gets his hands on John Piper’s book ‘Future Grace’. “Very scientific and very pastoral, just what I needed.”
John Piper’s book is about trusting God for the future based on what He has done for you in the past. “The writer states that as long as God has not yet shown you that He cares for you, He requires limited confidence from you for the future. That message gave me room to doubt and to play with God. After a while I realized that I was having a hard time trusting God because I didn’t believe that He valued me and that I was loved.”
“I woke up and noticed that something had changed. It seemed like I had a new sense.”
Jesse combines that insight with a formula from another book: “Event + Thoughts = Feeling + Behavior.” Jesse explains, “If someone thinks every time they get rejected that it’s because they’re worthless, they’re going to feel worthless and act like it. If someone thinks ‘too bad, missed opportunity for the other person’ after a rejection, then the same event has a completely different effect on someone’s life. Your thoughts are key.”
“With these two lessons in mind, I wrote down a whole bunch of things that I suspected were lies that lived in my mind. With those lies, such as “I am not valuable,” I looked for scriptures that said the opposite. God’s promises and His thoughts about me.” Jesse records all texts on an audio file and plays it daily. After a month of listening, something remarkable happens: “I woke up and noticed that something had changed. It seemed like I had a new sense. I felt things I had never felt before. There was emotional pain in my heart. Later that morning, when I heard someone say, “I’m fine,” it flashed through my mind: You say one thing, but you mean another. I have a feeling that you are not doing well at all. A bizarre experience. I had never had that before.”
Encouraged by the fact that he is starting to feel things, Jesse enthusiastically sets to work to get rid of his tension as well: “I thought: what a fantastic method – so I made five more shots.”
The new tapes just don’t have the hoped-for effect. “I prayed: Lord, what now? Then God showed me a picture of a wound that was bleeding. He said it was good to stop the bleeding. You did that by letting my truth into your mind, that was a first step. Now is the time to deal with the cause and let Me heal your
That healing process starts when someone points Jesse to a book by Leanne Payne. “She writes about men who feel like a child in an adult body and suffer from insecurity and impure thoughts. I strongly recognized those things. Partly because I was bullied in the past, I felt insecure. Because of the – in my experience – not entirely healthy relationship with my parents, I felt like a child. And even though I didn’t masturbate or watch porn, I fantasized about it sexually. Through prayer counseling, God healed my heart. I experienced in my mind how Jesus Himself walked into my imagination and brought peace – as people sometimes see Him in dreams. I personally experienced that Jesus is alive and still works miracles. My shame and fantasies disappeared.”
After his studies, Jesse moves back to the Netherlands. He is full of his recovery and has a good amount of theological knowledge in his head. But soon he realizes that he needs more.
Jesse: “When God brought me into CCC, I saw people embodying their faith. They didn’t just talk about confidence, you saw it in their lifestyle. They radiated it. I didn’t. I thought: I may have a master’s degree in Theology, but I can’t preach like that. I struggled with that. That changed when I started evangelizing on the street for a year and became active in CCC. When I started contributing. God filled me with confidence and certainty and I felt: this will not go away. I was made to share His gospel. God goes with me.” The latter sees Jesse as his last major breakthrough to spiritual maturity.
In his journey to recovery, it is mainly God’s compassion that has touched Jesse. “God always gave me the right people around me. That’s something I want to give others too. I feel that God is calling me to in turn be the right person for others.”
Yulia is one of those ‘right people’ that God put in Jesse’s path. “God gave me a very nice group of friends in CCC. Because of all those nice contacts, I didn’t even mind being single anymore. Just then I met my wife-to-be. We’re getting married in April!”