This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Daniel Liberek (CN 385, T1) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. Nothing recorded has been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. In a very few cases, words were too unclear to be distinguished, so the word "[unclear]" was inserted. This is a transcription of spoken English, which of course follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Joshua Breithupt, Michael Ericksen, Stephen Ericksen, Timothy Harder and Robert Shuster, and completed in July, 1996.
Collection 385, T1. Interview of Daniel Liberek by Robert Shuster, January 8, 1988.
SHUSTER: This is an interview with Daniel Liberek by Robert Shuster for the Archives in the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College. This interview took place on January 6,1988 at ten o'clock in the morning in the offices of the Billy Graham Center. Dan, why don't we start with some family background? Where were you born?
LIBEREK: I was born in England in Eastbourne, United Kingdom. My parents who were working with Eric Hutchings, a British evangelist and they were stationed at the time in England so that's where I was born.
SHUSTER: What were your parents names?
LIBEREK: My father Samuel and my wife Denise Liberek. My mother is a Belgian and my father was British.
SHUSTER: And you say they were working with Eric Hutchings? What exactly were they doing?
LIBEREK: My father was a team coordinator. That meant that he, like for many other evangelists, went ahead of time, prepared everything, tried to coordinate the churches, then stayed on for the follow-up. And he quite often did the translations for Eric Hutchings as well. That's the Hour of Revival Ministries. Eric Hutchings is...has passed away now, but the ministry is still in England. Eric Hutchings was active all over Europe which took our family over to Sweden, to France, to Belgium, to England, all of England. And after my father left, Eric Hutchings started being involved Asian ministries, went to Korea, to the Philippines, and to different countries, but now he's passed away.
SHUSTER: So you did a great deal of traveling as a child?
LIBEREK: I reckon I did. My parents still tell I learned Swedish when I was very young. I've forgotten it by now, of course. So we lived six months here, six months there. I just kept on going. When I was five...five or six...my...just about five and a half I guess, my parents left the Eric Hutchings team, and moved over to Belgium.
SHUSTER: You have any direct memory apart from what your parents told you about those early years?
LIBEREK: Not at all, no. I guess I've been told so many stories as we went along that my...my own memories might of...probably would have meshed with what ever they said, and I wouldn't...I wouldn't be able to dissociate them.
SHUSTER: Do you have, from your own memories or from stories you have been told, any strong impressions of what the life of an itinerant evangelist is like?
LIBEREK: My parents often compared with what...where we went to. When my parents were with Eric Hutchings teams, Eric Hutchings was like a father to them. Now it wasn't...they didn't have a big salary, but Eric Hutchings always took good care of them. And when they would come back, Eric Hutchings would take them out for dinner for debriefing, and he just was...he just made sure that they had enough to eat, enough to be clothed, and really he took the place of a father they...neither of them had available at the time. There was only one grandfather still alive. He was in Belgium. So that's the sort of memory that my parents have often emphasized, that Eric Hutchings was...was very good to them. When they left the Eric Hutchings team, they moved to Belgium with no assured salary at all. The Belgium Gospel Mission had called them to Belgium, but they said "We don't have any salary for you. So if you want to come, and if you think the Lord is leading you, come on over." So transition was quite rough, moving from in a insured salary to...to nothing. If I remember correctly what they said, they had fifty dollars of support a month, and that was all the money they had when they moved over to Belgium. So that aspect probably has stood up in their minds, then they pass it on to us, that is was a rough transition. But they did it joyfully, but it [laughs] When I think about it, I think it was very rough for them, to move with...(there were two of us at the time, two kids) to move with the two of us to a different country. The house they moved into was...it had running water, it ran from all over the place. There was a huge hole in the living room and you could see the skies...the sky and the stars.... It was very nice, especially in the summer, we had air conditioning. But that was the type of house went into...the carpet was moldy, the walls had mushrooms, so that's were they moved. So when they talk about it, that must have struck them as...as one of the big factors.
SHUSTER: What prompted them to move back to Belgium?
LIBEREK: Definitely, my...my father had a strong leading from the Lord to do so. There was a call from the Belgium Gospel Mission. There was one church in Huy that had been without a pastor for a while, it was run down and going down. It was on the verge of dying I guess and they called him. He...he was a good worker with the Eric Hutchings team, he was valued by Eric Hutchings, and they offered him a call to come. I gave you the terms [chuckles] and he felt the Lord wanted him in Belgium. So he did. My father had been partly raised in Belgium, my mother was a native, so the language and culture were no problem. So they moved straight back to Belgium and started work there.
SHUSTER: And so this was then...he was in Huy?
SHUSTER: Where you grew up?
LIBEREK: Yes, that's where I grew up from the time I was five. I lived there until I finished high school. When I was eighteen, then I moved away. Huy is a small town of about twenty...twenty thousand people. Its...I guess if you had to classify it would be somewhat like a urbanized, suburban town. It's hard to make a distinction in Belgium between urban and rural. Because almost all of Belgium is urban. You...you sort of drive from on city to the without ever seeing fields in part of Belgium. Now there's...of course there's a rural part of Belgium but most of it has been urbanized. And all the facilities of the area, you can have them. Whether it be a one day film processing to buying cars, credit, everything is available to you wherever you are in Belgium. So it's a total of about twenty thousand inhabitants very geared towards tourism. It has no industry of its own really, except in the last ten years we've received three nuclear power plants. That has generated quite a bit of work in the area. It hasn't created much local work because many of the people are qualified and they've come from different countries. All of the power plants are either BelgaGermany or BelgaFrance, that means that half of the labor has to come from France and half of it has to come from Germany depending on which nuclear power plant we're talking about. So that's the type of city I was raised in. Its strongly Roman Catholic, has seven or eight Catholic churches just in our city. Most of them are running down are almost closing. But still it's a city I would classify as strongly Catholic, with many people who are..snobistic?
LIBEREK: Snobs, yes.
SHUSTER: In what sense snobs?
LIBEREK: If you want to share something, most of their reaction would be, "Well, we know about this, that's O.K., it might be good for you but not for us." There is quite a bit of value attached to the social rank in the city. You have...it seems that you have sort of a hierarchy with a lot of families who are part of the nomenclature [sic] of the Roman Catholic church and they form a very tight knit group and for one of them to move away or leave their church would be a loss of prestige...prestige. And this just something about the city where if you're not a native, if you're not from there, you will be looked down upon and it's hard for you to integrate. Now, for us it was somewhat different because we spoke the language with no problem and I was raised there, and we kids went to the pubic school and we...we were part of society so right now after twenty some years and we, people have accepted us very well and we...we sort of belong. But it took quite a while, it took several years for my parents to feel that they really belonged.
SHUSTER: This part of Belgian speaks Walloon?
LIBEREK: Yes, my mother was Walloon, was raised in Liège, and so she can speak Walloon, and I can speak a little bit of Walloon too. And that was a help in integrating us. If you can speak Walloon, some of the older folks...you have an edge already.
SHUSTER: What is some of your earliest memories of growing up in the town, growing up as a pastor's son ?
LIBEREK: [chuckles] A pastor's son, yeah. I wasn't perfect, that's one thing [chuckles]. There are several different aspects of the memories that I have, that's one thing. There's aspects from school. I remember that my parents didn't have much. They never complained about it. But I can often remember going to school with clothes that were...quite less that A shape. I remember going to school one day, that's one thing that stuck in my mind, and, there was somewhat of a fight. I was the only Protestant in my school, which didn't help much. And so sometimes I became the scapegoat for a few things. So I remember one day, my shoe was broken, and I was in tears because it was going to cost a lot of money...and the teacher came a defended me, and somebody else paid for the repair. So little things like tha....
SHUSTER: The shoe broke in the fight?
LIBEREK: Yes, I can't remember why, but I remember a few guys ganged up, and they were trying to take my shoes away, and of course I tried to defend my property. And the shoe was broken, somehow. It's been a long time, so.... I have a few pictures, I can remember the place where we played, the school yard, and I can remember the teacher, sort of snapshots of the scene. So things like that, so I guess the scarcity of goods in our family stuck...sticks in my mind. I remember my mom giving me money to go and buy one slice of ham, a couple eggs, not a dozen, just little things. There's no bitterness, and my parents were never bitter about having little. They were always thankful to the Lord for what they had. But I remember it.
SHUSTER: And you associate that with Christian work [portion unclear]?
LIBEREK: Not really, with the situation in Belgium, definitely. We have a setting deriving from the Catholic Church, and very unhealthy. Maybe the country that...you have in the states in some areas where Christian work is associated with money. Christian work in Belgium is associated with poverty. It's always good for the pastor. And the pastor ought to live below everybody's level of income. Or the pastor ought to be poor because it's almost part of the vows. In the Catholic Church, you have the three vows, and one of them is poverty. And this sort of sticks. And it's a very hard thing for people to understand that...well there are texts that talk about double honor. That doesn't...that would never relate to money of course. I'm not saying it does but a case could be made for it. So that's part of the atmosphere of Belgium as far as the clergy level of income. It hasn't embedded in me because I became a pastor in Belgium as well, so I guess it hasn't...really back away from it. I know some friends who have changed their vision and...and ministries because of that. I had a very close cousin when I was growing up, and they were part of other churches as well, and we both had the dream of becoming pastors some day, and working in Belgium and planting churches. And when I went over to Bible school, he was one year behind me, I think he doubled up one year in high school. Then he wrote and said he wasn't going to go to Bible school, he was going to go the state...the state church's Bible school. I'll have to clarify that in a minute. And the reason he gave was that he wanted to have enough money to feed his wife and children, and that he wasn't quite ready to live by faith. And so right now, he's an employee in a business, and well, the dream was shattered. And the thing that was really the key fact in it was money. He couldn't quite envision living like he had seen my parents live. Now my parents aren't poor. They joined a mission in the later years and raised the support like many missionaries have done. And so they have an income right now. My father had to teach high school for many, many years. That's one thing that sticks in my mind from my childhood as well as business...busyness. My father was always very busy. I laugh sometimes when I hear this big talk about ministry, family and this and that. My father was always on the go, he could be gone for three weeks every night. We didn't feel neglected.
LIBEREK: Ya. He would be on for twenty-one straight nights. He wouldn't have a single evening at home. For a one for a short period...well not for a short...for several years he taught in eleven different schools. He did about thirty hours a week. Now the normal schedule is about twenty hours a week, twenty to twenty-four hours, he had thirty and sometimes more hours a week.
SHUSTER: What did he teach?
LIBEREK: Religion. In Belgium it's a smorgasbord approach. Children have to take two hours a week of religious education. Either Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Jewish. I think we have Buddhist but I'm not sure now. And...or secular ethics, which is pretty much a course in atheism and communism. Off the record of course. [laughs] So he had eleven schools, plus the travel. I...I don't know how he did it, but he did it. And for the first eighteen months, he wasn't paid. Somehow his salary was blocked, and so eighteen months without pay went by. And they really had to rely on the Lord to confirm their calling to Huy, and that was a very good reason to say, "Maybe we made a mistake." And Eric Hutchings of course was ready to take them back. But they stuck it out and the Lord proved faithful, in just paying the bills, and the house was slowly renovated, the hole was patched. So that's another type of memory.
SHUSTER: And that house was the parsonage?
LIBEREK: Yes, it was a parsonage.
SHUSTER: What do you recall of the...of your parent's congregation?
LIBEREK: I don't remember much from way back. I remember little things, there was a big stove in the middle of the church, and I can remember huddling around the stove. We had...my father had to get up around five thirty, six o'clock to start it in the morning so it would be nice by ten. I remember little things like that. There were few of us, but it seemed my most vivid memories are from the congregation doing better. I was a kid, all the...all that I was interested was the friends I had in church and playing after church, not really church itself. I don't have many memories. I remember how the building was then. We've done quite a bit of renovating to it, and enlarging and building it up. But there isn't much. Some of the memories are still from school, I guess that's a place I spend a lot more time at. There were many times when I suffered a mild sort of persecution, the only person in the school for a while, and there were two or three of us maybe. There were times when some of the students' mothers would wait for me after school, and they enjoyed calling me a priest's son, son of a priest. Which is not a very nice name, of course. Different things like that, a few times the...I had a few guys gang up on me, but I can't say it was a daily normal feature. Apart from that it was okay. With my parents and the life they led me to live. The teachers respected us as being honest and truthful, and the way that my parents related to the teachers when there was a problem, gave them respect which sort of trickled down to us. So from the teachers' part, and point of view, it was okay. Even the teachers of Roman Catholicism didn't look down on us, or didn't lead a...a fight against us. So some time it generated from the mothers of the students, but it wasn't too bad.
SHUSTER: And what motivated the mothers?
LIBEREK: We were dirty Protestants. And that...it's dwindling down but it still exists in some parts of Belgium. And even today. I could tell stories of just a couple years ago, last year when things happened, that seemed unbelievable in the [United] States where there is such an openness and.... I guess the Catholic Church is such a different face than it does in different countries. Belgium is eighty...eighty-six percent...well eighty-six percent of the people claim to be Catholics. A very, very tiny percentage of the people go to church. It's very nominal, and I guess it's more of an identity card of some.... you've got to be something so you might as well be what your parents are. But with that type of a social strength, there is quite a bit of pressure. And I remember my father telling me about people who would accept the Lord, but they had a business, and if they became Protestants or Evangelicals, they would lose the business. That was just a fact for them. I remember the fellow who sold newspapers, he said, "The day I will enter your church, that's the day my business will close down."
SHUSTER: Because he would lose all his customers?
LIBEREK: Because he would definitely lose all his customers.
SHUSTER: Well, looking back on your childhood and your own experience today, who does become...who does join the church? Who are the Protestants of Belgium?
LIBEREK: The church in Huy, is a blue collar church. Blue collar workers and for many years that's the way it was. When my parents came, there were, I think, about fourteen people. And the main part of the church was...consisted of one family, one major family. And that family grew and probably grew to about thirty people (thirty maybe forty), not all of the family stayed faithful, but most of them did. In fact two of the men (excuse me) are elders in the church today. But slowly people here and there joined, most of them blue collar workers. It's only in the last seven...seven years that we have reached another class of people. Nothing against blue collar workers of course. My wife is the daughter of a blue collar worker. But slowly we've been able to reach to white collar workers, and we have several of the nuclear power plants...we call them drivers in Belgium, they're who operate the power plant, who are in charge of it. So we've got two of them. Then we've got several other who are also white collar managing people in the power plant. We have a judge...well...yes, he's an assistant judge who has joined the church as well. So we're reaching to different kinds of people. It hasn't really been a shift in ministries, just it has happened more than we have sought it out. And the church slowly has grown, and today we have about a hundred members. That is good solid growth for Belgium.[laughs]
SHUSTER: It sounds like in the past there has definitely been a class aspect to your church in that [unclear]. Why was that?
LIBEREK: If you look over the Belgian history, the Protestant church has often been tied up with the socialist movement. If we...we look back.... I haven't done as much research as I'd like into it, but I've read a few things about it and there was a sacred alliance in Belgium for many years. Between the Socialist party and the Protestant church. Our Protestantism has often been very concerned about social justice and about the plight of the poor. And so has socialism. The term is not much liked in the [United] States, but as I look over history in Europe it has done a lot of good for the working people. And if it wasn't for socialism in Belgium, well, many people would still be.... (What's the word I want?) Taken advantage of. So years back when the Catholic Church was the almighty church in Belgium, and whatever it said went, there was an alliance between two tiny minorities, the Catholic...the Protestant church and the Socialist Party. As the years went by, the Socialist Party grew, and, sad, the Protestant church didn't [chuckles]. But the Socialist Party grew, and became as powerful as the Roman Catholic Church. So there was this alliance between the proletariat and the Protestant church. And I guess that must have had an impact upon the church. Most of the wealthy families, most of them in nomenclature, were part of the Roman Catholic church. And saw their money tied up and their prestige tied up with their religious identity. And the Protestant church - tiny, despised, rejected - didn't have much appeal to them. So I would say that's part of the reason. Now in Huy, when my father came, it was a blue collar church. That was a fact. And as they ministered, the friends of the blue collar workers were blue collar workers, and that's the way it went. It's only the last few years with one family coming to the Lord, brought by no one (they were white collar workers) and slowly they opened doors. And there is also an idea of redemption and lift. The fact that some of the children of blue collar workers had moved up to being white collar workers. And that's a fact all over the world basically, that the gospel does bring a lift. That has opened new doors of ministry.
SHUSTER: How do you mean, the gospel brings a lift?
LIBEREK: Well, I could talk about many families who...where the husband was [a] drunkard, the wife was [a] drunkard, they accepted the Lord and suddenly there was a lot more money that can be used in the family. The children who were abused are not abused any more. They do better in school. As they do better in school, they are able to go to better schools and get better jobs. So the gospel does have a lift effect. It does foster social enhancement.
SHUSTER: Do you...what about your own personal development? What are your early members...memories about what you thought about God, about Christianity?
LIBEREK: I was raised, of course, in a good Christian family (better be) [laughs] and I always looked up to my father. He was...he was to me a model, so as I've studied some of the psychology and things like that I've discerned that he was a big fact in shaping my view of God. Not so much my mother, but my father very definitely. Of course he was the voice of God on Sunday morning in a sense. He spoke the word of God, he preached it, people looked up to him so I did too. And I wasn't...I didn't have the second aspect of seeing him in a family were he wasn't truthful to what he said. My father tried to practice what he preached. He wasn't a hypocrite. And I was raised in a very united family where my parents loved each other. I'm discovering that is not the case for everyone. I'm discovering that it's almost an exception when mom and dad love each other. So as I looked on all of this, I have a rich inheritance from my parents. My father was definitely the one person that I looked up to. Of course it didn't quite make me a Christian right away. I took many, many decisions for Christ. I probably could draw up a list of fifteen to twenty places where I put my arm up. But....
LIBEREK: I put up my arm, I made a sign or asked for a card or did this or that to make a decision [to become a Christian]. But they didn't stick. I...I don't think they were really decisions, they were.... I was trying to get insurance for death, basically. I was afraid of dying, and an eternity without God. But I wasn't quite ready to commit my life. One of the problems when I was growing up was that we didn't have much money so when I wanted things I got them. There was only one other way than buying, it's to steal, so I did some of that, and my stealing prevented me from going further with the Lord. I...I...my covetousness was stronger than my desire for God.
SHUSTER: What kinds of things did you take?
LIBEREK: Toy soldiers, books, [pauses] money. The things that I wanted, of course. As time went along, I grew older.... Now, it's strange how kids can do it. I could have two very different aspects of my person. Nobody knew that I was stealing. I knew it, but still I would be able to pray in church or give a witness at school. I guess I hadn't managed to see that my life was to be a total unit and a cohesive entity. So I live that way. We went to many camps, my father did many youth camps in Belgium, from the time when we arrived in Belgium, actually. I think about twelve years. He ran camps. And in '72 my parents, with United World Missions, that's our mission board, generated a church planting venture in Waremme, that's a church about ten miles away from Huy and the church was planted there. I was part of the team. I probably was more of a problem to the team that an asset to the team. In '72 I was thirteen years old. And I stole from some of the team members. I went door-to-door [to invite people to the meetings] of course, I sang in the team choir. By that time I started feeling that there was a discrepancy in my life, that something wasn't right. I couldn't claim to have Jesus as Lord and at the same time have another father, in that I was obeying the devil's promptings. In '73 my father went back for a crusade, in Waremme, a short three or four day crusade. And that's when I...I made a decision, a very definite decision for Christ. And I said "From now on I...I want to follow you." The thing.... Sorry
SHUSTER: Was it something at that particular meeting that prompted you to come forward?
LIBEREK: Not really. I can't recall what my...my father preached about. I guess it was from '72 on, I started feeling the discrepancy and the problem in having two persons living inside of me, really. In having those two powers fighting and I decided to make a choice. Things didn't change over-night, but over several years I can see a very definite process of cleaning up my act. I...I still did some very dumb things. I had main...mainly good friends in school, but even some of the good friends do bad things [laughs]. But over a period of time, I committed myself to missions, to do...to do missions work in Belgium. And committed myself to cleaning up my life, which meant going back to all the people I had stolen from: stores, businesses, family members and repaying, restituting, asking forgiveness. Which wasn't quite...wasn't easy. But as I look over it now, I say that's a definite proof that I was saved because I did those things. There was no reason I should have done them, most of what I'd stolen was.... Nobody knew about it. And some of the people were shocked when I went up to them to pay back. I didn't have to do it, but as I did it, as I went step by step, the Lord just.... Well, just gave me the strength to do it, and gave me the freedom as I was doing it. Every time I would walk up to someone saying, "This I stole from you. Will you forgive me?" I could feel a burden being lifted from my back. And just new freedom and new power and ministry was given to me.
SHUSTER: What were...you mentioned some people were shocked. What kind of reactions were you getting?
LIBEREK: Disbelief. I was a good kid, I wasn't the one who was going to do that. And the people would not believe that I had done it. I remember when my parents...well, actually my mother was alone when part of my secret life was discovered. My father happened to be in the [United] States for about four months, that was a very tough time for my mother. And she had to handle part of that. [laughs] So she was shocked in discovering all this. I remember an old lady in the church I went back to, she couldn't believe that I would have done this. Finally she accepted and she accepted what I gave her. I remember an aunt I went to she wouldn't believe it and she never wanted to take the money back. Finally she gave it for...well, maybe I shouldn't...she gave it for my children. The Lord has been bringing things back to me I had forgotten. And even people that I had stolen from that I couldn't remember stealing from, the Lord suddenly brings it back to my memory and says, "Now you have to clean this up." And it's been many years, but just recently the Lord brought back another incident in my life. And when I go back to Belgium that's one thing I will have to do. And I think one by one He's making me accountable for things. And even though I've forgotten and it's wasn't on the primary list I drew up, He's bringing those things out and says, "Now this, you need to take care of when you go back." And it's a place I totally had forgotten about but He said, "Well, when you go back, you do this now," and I'll have to be faithful when I go back to Belgium. So that aunt wasn't too long ago.
SHUSTER: You mentioned too that [unclear]....
LIBEREK: I always envisioned myself, even when I was not a Christian, as being in the ministry. There was something of an aura of prestige even though Protestantism is a despised religion in Belgium, is looked down upon as a second class religion. To us who live inside of it, being a pastor is, well, at least to me had a lot of prestige to it. I could see my father as the way he acted and that role modeling had a very strong impact on me so from very a very young age, after I decided I wanted to be an airline pilot and a policemen and a firemen, course, I quickly shifted to wanting to become a pastor. Some of the things that stick in my mind was the way my father acted during funerals. I thought that was just grand and I wanted to have the same honor that was conferred upon him during the funeral.
LIBEREK: Well, the respect that was paid to him I guess was what attracted me. Sort of...he was able to stand alone, he was the first one to walk in the line, oh, and every one would
shake his hand, little things like that I guess they would appeal to me as a non-Christian.
He had honor, he had prestige. So it was always the thought in my mind I will be a pastor someday. I became a Christian and I looked at several other options. I...I looked at being a history major, professor of history. But definitely I felt a call on my life. In 19...I think it's '76. Yes, '76. Well, I'm not sure of the date. We went to Lausanne in Switzerland where we had sort of an Urbana [a conference on missions for college age students]. It was called Mission 76, I believe, and we went there and there was a call to missions and I felt the Lord was calling to work full time for Him. So I stood up with the cousin I was talking about. Mission 1980, we went back and I reconfirmed the call. It was there definite that I wanted to serve Him. By then I had gone to Bible school already by 1980. But '76 was a major decision point for me. I confirmed what all along had been the calling I felt. It's strange to say the Lord was calling me before I was a Christian but I think He was, in a sense, preparing me though my family, though what I was going though, to understand some things and He owned those days as well. He...He knew where I was going and what was going to happen in my life and I think He was preparing the way for what was to follow. So in '77 I finished high school. All along I had said I would go to the European Bible Institute in Paris [French word unclear] where my father had gone, where my sister had gone. And suddenly I realized I didn't want to go where the family had gone, maybe part of my identity crisis or whatever you want to call it. But I wanted to be out on my own and I decided anywhere but where they had gone. I didn't want to be compared to my sister. My sister is a very smart girl. She's an accomplished musician, that is her gift. I sing (on tune usually), I play with piano, but I am not an accomplished musician by far.
SHUSTER: She's a pianist?
LIBEREK: Yes she's a pianist and composer. I didn't want to be compared her so I said anywhere but [French word] I applied in England to Mullin's[?] Bible Institute and it was about April. I graduated in June. In about April I got a letter saying I was not accepted. I was a very good student in school. I had an impeccable testimony. I had good references. I was not accepted. There was a definite...I was shell shocked. I couldn't understand why and the only reason they gave was I was too young. I was going to be eighteen. I...I was born in July so they made my graduation somewhat early. They said, "Why don't you work a couple years in the secular world and then apply with us and we'll accept you." Their average age was about thirty so I was quite younger then the average age. I can see the wisdom in their decision but to me as a seventeen year old it was a shock. Right at that time one of the teachers from France came to Huy, Doctor Shibler[?]. He was a graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Mission in Columbia, South Carolina, and he said "Dan I don't think you have to come to France but I think you ought to go to Columbia," and I said, "Where?" I'd never heard of the place and he gave me the address. I wrote. We got a catalog and, of course,
like any catalog there's one section you always look at, the financial section, and my parents said, "We're sorry, there's no way we can hack that. A missionary salary doesn't quite allow you about a $1500 quarter fee." But my dad said, "Well, if you think that's where the Lord wants you, you can write, apply. You tell them and we'll see what happens." So I applied, was accepted and went. And then someone paid one of our...for my first quarter. Somehow my parents paid for part of my schooling. I worked from my first quarter at school and by the time I graduated all of it was paid. Don't ask me how. Even when I look back over it now I don't even know how it was paid but it was all paid. I didn't owe the school a penny. I graduated in 1980.
SHUSTER: When you worked, where did you work at?
LIBEREK: On campus. I'm a foreign student so I couldn't work on...in the business market but I had to work on campus. I did dishes, I worked in the Dishbit[?]. Finally I worked my way up to the snack-bar [chuckles] where I worked for quite a while as well. It was very good training. I was an excessively busy student when I.... My sister is at Columbia now and when she was just here, [visiting Wheaton College campus], I was talking with her about her school days. They're nothing like...I worked excessively hard. She's more socially oriented than I was at the time. I carried a load of usually nineteen to twenty hours, quarter hours. Worked twenty, twenty hours in the kitchen, coached a YMCA team, was in choir.
SHUSTER: What kind of team did you coach?
LIBEREK: Soccer, of course. Coming from Belgium, what else. Excessively busy. Now, this enabled me to graduate in three years and that's one of the reasons they didn't have to pay so much, I guess. [laughs] I didn't have much time for retreats, social trips and class socials and things like that. It was a good preparation. There's things I missed and I regret some of it but it was a different kind of life.
SHUSTER: To backtrack...backtracking a little bit. You mentioned that in '73 and '79 you were on some evangelistic trips.
SHUSTER: Who had introduced[?] you to this evangelistic work?
LIBEREK: If I'm correct my father was one of the first to initiate this as a church planting strategy in Belgium or in Europe. United World Missions would gather a team of Americans (young people basically) who would come for a period of about seven weeks, six, seven weeks, to Belgium. Most...the bulk of the time would be spent in a city where there was no church, trying to plant a church. In Waremme was the first time and that was the big bang. We had about a hundred young people, between a hundred and a hundred and forty, depending on the week. We had probably sixty to seventy Americans and we had some Europeans and Belgians.
SHUSTER: So they came from all over
LIBEREK: Yeah, an international team. And at the time we had pink jackets, so you can just imagine in a town of fifteen thousand people, you've got a hundred and twenty people wearing pink jackets walking around. We had stick[?] on the pink jackets. I think the theme was "God is Near" or "God isn't Far," one of those. And that was the first crusade we did. The team was involved in door-to-door and in open-air. We had tent meetings, we had children's work, all of that put together. And when the team left there was a church in Waremme, a small church. It has grown today and it's one of the free churches of Belgium. That was done again in '76 in Hanu [?] I wasn't there at the time, I was working for a summit in Wales. Then it was done again. In 1980 we tried to double the church we had in...that we had in Huy through one of the summer crusades. It was...we participated in crusades also in different cities in Belgium. The latest was in Chênée. That's one of the suburbs of Liege and there's a church there of fifty people through one of the crusades and follow up work. So that's what I mean by crusade.
SHUSTER: When you go door-to-door, how do you approach...how do you start your presentation?
LIBEREK: For quite a while I told my dad that door-to-door was a method done away with. I was very critical of it because I could hardly see any yield, any fruit coming out of door-to-door. It's a fact that the Jehovah Witnesses have overused door-to-door in Belgium and the simple fact of trying to talk about religion on the doorsteps classifies you as a Jehovah Witness. So as soon as you try to do door-to-door you've got two strikes against you because the Jehovah Witnesses they've had knocked on the door ten times before you come. But we still use it. We've tried several methods. One of them is a questionnaire, a short questionnaire that we would ask questions like. "Do you know about the charismatic movement?" "Who is Don Albert Camarra[?]?" We would get several answers. "Do you know about Vatican II?" Questions that are religious but are not very specific. And we probably will come up towards the end of the question like, "Do you know about the four spiritual laws?" And depending on what they say, we...we try to move into the gospel or have you heard of the bridge to reconciliation we might even use the [unclear] questions: "If you were to die tonight and you were to stand before God, would you know for sure that you would go to heaven?" Things like that. So we try...we start broad and then narrow it down to try to share the gospel. If there's no interest, we'll be very polite and we'll leave very quickly. We don't want to bother the people and give a bad impression. We've done door-to-door where we had a long questionnaire. In years past it worked better. Right now we have to go with a very short questionnaire - seven, eight, ten questions at the most. People are busy, very busy, and they don't want to be bothered. Once in a while you've got someone who will talk. We've gone trying to sell books. I remember in Waremme that was one of the things we did. We had the Billy Graham books, we had a few other books in French. All of them were in French, of course, but written by French authors and we'd try to sell the books, Bibles as well. We've gone...in the latter years we have started just inviting people. We go with a nice print invitation, ring...ring the bell, person comes, "Hello, I'm a member of a team we'd simple like to invite you the meetings that are going to be held tonight," the conferences or the concert, give the invitations, say goodbye and go. And that has had at least the impact of giving the people the impression that we are nice and that we don't want to bother them, contrary to the Jehovah Witnesses. So it seems we're moving more and more away from high sell to low sell approaches. Door-to-door does work though, in instances. I remember in Veza[?] when we tried to plant a church there we went door-to-door and I was with my wife...teaming up with my wife then. We were talking about how useless this was and we walk up to a door and the lady had been waiting for us and actually the Lord had prepared her. We invited her for the evening, she came to the evening service, she accepted the Lord. And I told my wife, "How useless is it?" That's one experience in many years of that type of work. I don't think I'm that gifted for door-to-door, I do it because it's one way to get into contact with people. I don't think we have to have all the gifts to do everything. We do what we have to do to get in contact with people. I don't like...I'm sort of a shy person. If I walk in to a room, I rather have somebody approach than me approach them. But when it has to be done, it has to be done. So we still do door-to-door. We're trying to find other methods though [chuckles].
SHUSTER: What are some of the other methods
LIBEREK: We've used...we've use concerts. With the young people it can be a very effective method if you have a good group. The problem is in Europe we don't have a plethora of groups and they...they have a very hard time surviving. Christianity...Protestant Christianity being such a small minority, the pool of musicians is very small. It all goes together. In Belgium we have point six [six tenths of one percent of the population] evangelicals, which means out of two hundred people you usually have one Evangelical. A lot of them being blue collar workers, it doesn't...it's not a fact that a lot of them will play music. It seems, sadly, but it seems that music is more of a upper-class phenomena then a lower class phenomena. So to put up a good band, a good group, it's very hard. There's also the financial aspect which is not easy. So all of that has led to a scarcity of musical teams. We've used a few teams and I remember once we took a team.... We went to a little village. We put the team...the team was placed on the market square and they started to play. It was probably seven o'clock and we stayed there till almost eleven, talking with people. Afterwards a gang of young people came up and we started talking. We talked about [Karl] Marx, we talked about religion, the opium of the masses, we talked about evolution, we talked about many different things. Now if we could of done that say ten nights in a row, I think it could be effective. Personally I think today the main evangelistic tool that we're going to be...we're going to have to use is our families. I'm not sure how it's going to work out yet. I'm not going to chuck away all of the other methods. We're still going to do door-to-door, we're still gonna put up tents, we're still gonna do all of that because it's still yielding fruit. Now it might not yield many fruit, but it's still yielding some and as far as today, it's the best method to plant a church in Belgium. And people talk about other methods. I live in Belgium. I've seen what the other methods do, I've seen them close down churches. You go for ten days, you do a ten day crusade. The first night you do a barbeque, the second night you show a film, the third night you have a concert, the fourth night...nothing very definitely Christian. And on the last night you preach the gospel and, well, after that you leave and there's nothing behind you. `Cause it's a fact in Belgium people don't understand the gospel. They have been brainwashed and if you spend twenty, thirty, forty years in the Roman Catholic Church.... Whatever you think of it, what I'm saying is not very complimentary to it, I'm sorry but that's the way the theology is. If you spend forty years into it, you are brainwashed against the notions of grace and faith and you have to earn your salvation. I remember an old lady I drove for several nights in a row. I drove her back and forth; she wanted to come to the meetings. And on one night she said, "Oh, Pastor Daniel I think you're going to be so happy with me. Tomorrow I'm going for a pilgrimage, I'm going to pray to the Virgin Mary!" Well, she had come for six, seven nights and one of those nights had been on the Virgin Mary. We had made a whole service about her and explaining. Brainwashed. It just wouldn't go through. There was such a barrage of education that it couldn't go through. And the new church in Chênée we planted, we had a mob of young people. That is, it's a lower class city and so people live on the streets [chuckles], especially in the summer. So we had...we had young people. We didn't know what to do with them. They came the first night and they just kept on coming. I remember one night when a couple of them accepted the Lord, we made it tough. We asked them to stand up with everybody looking. Usually you have everybody close their eyes and you put up your arm [to indicate that you are accepting Christ] which is already hard. But we wanted them to make a hard stand for the Lord so we said well, "If you want to make a stand up for Christ, you stand up now, in front of your buddies and everything." And a few of them did and when it came time for baptismal service (we have open baptismal) and we asked them to share a testimony and one of the guys stood up. He said, "The first night I went, I didn't understand beans of what they said. Nothing. They were talking and it didn't make sense. Second night same thing. Third night, I was understanding a few notions and it was only on that particular night that I finally stood up and made a decision." So when you say, "We're going to use a soft sell approach," you've got to be kidding to some extent because of this. People don't understand it and a one night thing is not going to do it. Now if you come for two years or three years, you're going to live in that city, then it's a whole...it's a different ball game, I think. Then you can use friendship evangelism. Some people talk about using friendship evangelism in two weeks. That isn't friendship evangelism. Friendship evangelism is building a relationship, which you can't do in two weeks. My wife and I will be moving very soon to a new city where we're supposed to plant a church. I...we're going to be using friendship evangelism but we're going to live there for several years.
SHUSTER: Is that what you meant when you said that you said that your main method of evangelism would be your family?
LIBEREK: That's right, yes, bring me back to that point, yes [chuckles]. As I look around, I'm discovering that the family's hurting. It's hurting in the [United] States. It's hurting in Belgium. Divorce is on the increase, many, many people are remarrying. When we look around, it's hard to find a kid who still lives with his normal mother and father. In many families there is a lack of peace and harmony, lack of joy, lack of love. So as I look around I'm starting to see that my family...and we're not special in any way. I love my wife, she loves me, and we love our kids and we try to live it out. But just the way we relate to each other is a powerful instrument. This was born out to me through an experience we went through in Huy. One of my former school friends contacted me and he wanted to be married in the church. It was sort of a shock. Then we realized that his wife-to-be (with whom he was living already) was divorced. So that was a slight problem. I'm sort of simple minded about the Scriptures and I try to follow what it says. So we couldn't quite marry them and give them a full ceremony. But they were already living together so it was somewhat too late for reconciliation with the former party. I started talking with them, we had them over for a meal. We went over to their place for a meal. And in course of time, as time went by they accepted the Lord, both of them. When it came time for a testimony they said, "The one thing that hit us was the way Daniel and Miriam love each other. We wanted that type of love," and, honestly, we hadn't...we hadn't put on a show. We just...I help her with the dishes, I think that's normal. I wasn't trying to...to impress them. I was very shocked when they said that because we hadn't been trying to do something special. So as I think about this, and I've been doing a lot of thinking over it, if we can open our home (have people in our home) and if other Christians who get their act together can do the same, I just think the way we live is going to be special. It's been one of our frustrations in Belgium in many years. The Scriptures tell us, "By your works will people know." And there are many good, honest, hard-working people in Belgium. People who don't cuss, who don't curse, who don't smoke, who don't drink and who don't run after women. I mean, "What else is there?" is sort of the thought crossed our mind. "How can we show them that we're different?" I mean, they're already doing all the things that are primary in...in getting your life right. But I'm realizing that maybe this aspect of family life is one aspect where we've got something that they sure don't have, and, that could be the place where "By your works will people know." This could be just crux of the matter, maybe. It's going to have to be experimented and...and see how a family can be opened and a household can be put on display without endangering it. Because it's a definite fact that if we try to use something for God, the devil is going to try coming after the weapon that we're using. So we're going to have to be very careful with it.
SHUSTER: When you...during the summer evangelistic crusades that you had, and you had to respond to the certain number of people who came to know Christ, and summer ended, how then was the church organized? How...?
LIBEREK: Yes, we...we always had young couple or a young man to follow up, to become the pastor of the new church. The church that my father pastored (and that I became pastor of) the church in Huy, has had a vision for reproducing itself over the years. And so always try to save up money to be able to...to help someone else live in the new city in order to do the follow-up. In the...the latter years, we've tried to polish our methods a little bit. For the last Chênée church, we had a young couple that was about half supported by the Huy church. We had put money aside for several years in order to be able to spend it all at once in a couple years trying to support this young couple. So we...we had this young couple, and then we asked several other people to stay over for one year. So we had the big team come over for six weeks. They left. The young pastor stayed with...I think he had about four other people with him for one year. And it's just a matter of following up contacts and doing discipleship. And as soon as someone accepts the Lord, you try and get him to invite his friends, and you go with him to visit his friends, one and the other, and family members. And if the gospel really does its work those people are changed. And I could talk to you about people in the Chênée church who, as they accepted the Lord, brought five, six, seven people to the Lord in a matter of weeks. Just...they were so changed that people were drawn to the gospel. That's the way it should be, but that's the way it happened. And that church has had phenomenal growth in Belgium actually. Some of our biggest churches, and...the biggest church in our denomination has two hundred fifty people. We're the third largest with about one hundred members. Most of the churches in our denomination have thirty-five people. That new church, two years old, had over fifty. It's phenomenal; that isn't seen. It's a miracle [laughs]. But just because, I think, the method was right and the person was right. The fellow that was placed there was...is a very gifted church planter. That is beyond a shadow of a doubt a fact. He just has a way with people, he can move...he'll talk about the weather and a minute later he's deep into the Gospel. He just naturally does it. He's an evangelist on the personal level. One of the best I've ever seen.
SHUSTER: What denomination is the United World Mission?
LIBEREK: United World Mission is an American based board that is located in Florida, St. Petersburg. But in Belgium, United World Mission is not planting United World Mission churches. All the churches that we plant will eventually become Evangelical Free churches of Belgium. It is not tied up with the Free Church in the States. It's an association in Belgium, that grew out of the Belgium Gospel Mission. That's a whole other page of history.. It's one of the biggest Evangelical denominations of Belgium. That doesn't say much but [laughs] for Belgium it is.
SHUSTER: You mentioned how this one couple who really came to be interested in Christ because they saw the love between you and your wife. With the summer evangelistic campaign, what was it that finally prompted most of the people who came forward?
LIBEREK: After the Chênée crusade, there wasn't many people who had accepted the Lord. But there was a whole batch of very interested people. There were a few who had accepted the Lord. And there was a young guy, he had accepted the Lord, and he was...he used to be a terror. I mean he was worse than Dennis the Menace. He was awful. He was a gang leader. He accepted the Lord and his life changed. So his parents came, both of them. Now he backslid, but his parents stayed. [laughs] Well, he's been back and forth, back and forth, and he's still young and he has temptations that are due to his age. We hope and pray that in the course of time he'll stabilize. But his parents, very stable people. And he's the one who brought seven...seven others to the Lord. Just the fact that a life is changed and given over to the Lord, it doesn't matter how long really, if it's really totally the Lord's, He can use it. And that's what happened. And some of the other couples, there was a whole family, they were staunchly Catholic. And she was a teacher of catechism. In Belgium that is about as far as a layperson can go. Indoctrinated and the whole thing. Her son came to the Lord
SHUSTER: We have to stop while I change the tape here.
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