A local newspaper called it a ‘hidden treasure’ in the woods just one hour drive from Amsterdam. The Reformed Daily headlined ‘A garden that visualizes the core of the Gospel’. Another newspaper stated: ‘the garden manages to convey in a simple manner the Christian beliefs’.
This indoor garden sharing the gospel has been open since June 2017 and thousands of people have already found their way to it. Both Christians and non-Christians. But still, the garden seems to be a hidden treasure for the greater public.
Initiator Erik Willemsen has previously made a small version of the garden in his own local town, but he wanted to expand this concept on a larger scale. In doing so, reaching a larger audience with the gospel. Estate Pauwenhof, a former resort of the Dutch Bank, turned out to be a perfect place for this.
Willemsen received help from artists all over the world to establish his idea. Some of them are even professionals in building rocks at zoos. From mid-2016 they all had worked for more than a year to make the garden a reality. With the construction of the garden substantial investments have been made.
The result is a place of wonder. Because of the story that is told, but also because of the associated beauty of the design. The set paints the land of Israel in its early days. Visitors are surprised and often impressed. The story of the Gospel shared by this garden moves people. That is something that Willemsen likes to see. All people are welcome! The project has a missionary focus. The garden wants to be a place of retreat and reflection where the gospel is shared visually with its visitors.
‘A garden that visualizes the core of the Gospel.’ – Reformed Daily
In the danger zone…
Only half a year after the opening of the garden, the project ended up in heavy weather. The hotel part of the estate Pauwenhof encountered financial difficulties and was quickly put up for sale. Because the garden was a rental location on the estate, discontinuity for the garden seemed inevitable. Fortunately, because Willemsen decided in an ‘act of faith’ to buy the whole estate himself and with the help of some investors, the garden could continue.
New perspective…estate the Pearl
During the first half of 2019, a lot of effort has been put in to realize this deal and so the required financing could be realized in time. MissionInvest acted as an intermediary in obtaining over € 1,3 million, being an important part of the required impact investments for the purchase of the estate Pauwenhof. Thanks to this, the garden is saved and we hope this place of peace and reflection can be a blessing for many people! To mark this milestone, the estate has been renamed estate The Pearl!
The indoor garden is visited by more than 5,000 visitors annually! Since 2019, already more than 15,000 people have visited the garden! Every visitor is enthusiastic and impressed about this unique experience. Both Christians as well as non-Christians. It is expected that the number of visitors to this garden will continue to grow in the coming years!
‘From the very first meeting with Wim there was a connection and mutual trust. I am very satisfied with the partnership and the intermediation of MissionInvest. I look forward to the future and hope for a fruitful partnership with the investors of the project.’ – Erik Willemsen
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