In Memoriam: Leo Habets, Dutch Evangelical Leader

AMSTERDAM – Although relatively unknown to Americans, Leo Habets was a leader among evangelicals in Europe. He passed from this life into the presence of Jesus, the Savior whom he served, on Wednesday, January 2nd.

Although relatively unknown to Americans, Leo Habets was a leader among evangelicals in Europe. He passed from this life into the presence of Jesus, the Savior whom he served, on Wednesday, January 2nd.

Habets was 70 years old. He succumbed to a two-year battle with colon cancer. He is survived by his wife, Christine, their three daughters, and three grandchildren.

Habets placed his trust in Christ as a young man and spent nearly 50 years pursuing his calling in media evangelism.

Habets partnered with Dutch journalist Johann Th. Bos in 1982 to transform Challenge, an existing news bulletin service, into “an influential monthly newspaper for Dutch-speaking evangelicals” distributed throughout The Netherlands and Belgium and other countries.

Challenge was originally published by Agape Europe, the European arm of what was then Campus Crusade for Christ. Habets served as president of Agape Europe from 1987 to 1996. Eventually, Challenge became known as the European Christianity Today.

In the 1980s Habets supervised the ‘There Is Hope’ campaign. With the help and support of over 300 evangelical Dutch churches, the program published an evangelical magazine in The Netherlands with a circulation of 5.2 million.

In the 1990s, Habets published a subscription-based daily Bible study. More than 30 million copies in Dutch, English, and German were distributed worldwide.

In late 2018, Habets announced that, due to the challenges of his illness, he and his wife could no longer continue to publish Challenge. He gave a statement at that time, saying

You can imagine that this is very painful. The newspaper played an important, informative, and encouraging role for the evangelical community in The Netherlands. My prayer is that God, through readers like you, will show us His grace to end project Challenge correctly and meet all financial obligations.

A group of believers has banded together to keep Challenge alive. It is their vision and prayer that the Lord will continue to bless its continued publication as a legacy to Leo Habet’s work and to the glory of God.

We mourn his passing but rejoice in his presence with Jesus Christ.


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