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Teaching English and Art together, putting on the GospelCafé concerts, prayer, meeting with our new French friends. It's a good life!

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

From a French perspective

       R spoke at one of our gatherings at the conference last week. I wanted to share his powerful story with you.
     He grew up in Burgundy, France and never knew a Protestant in France. In school they did talk about Protestantism and he knew a little. He grew up with a little Catholicism. (He's probably in his 40s now). His father was an atheist and his mother was rejected by the Catholic church because she married a divorced man. As an adolescent he liked most to make fun of Catholic Christians. His friends and he formed a "hard rock band" and they mocked people who believed in God.
       It was ironic because in his band they were involved in the spirit world of demons - making tables move and dealing with spirits themselves. He met friends who were in secret societies like the Masons. His experience went deeper into esoteric studies. While in high school and later he began doing more religious study, and more into the occult world. "The Bible is a reference for those in the occult but they twist its meaning". As he began to understand the Bible better he hadn't met an evangelical Christian yet but one day he and a friend were playing their guitars and singing down in the Metro train area to make some money. Someone with a "shining, smiling face who looked peaceful" dropped a paper into his case. He thought, I'm going to read this later. But he didn't find the paper and forgot about it. A year later someone was in his guitar case and found the it stuck in a section of the case. His friend asked him if he was interested in Christianity, Jesus and the Bible as he'd read the paper. He told him that yes he was so he read it too. It was a tract about the Gospel.
       Next he went to Grenoble, France to school and got into another secret society. But on the floor where he lived at the school there were others there who invited him to come to a Christian meeting. He told the guys that he didn't believe in their ideas and felt that truth could be explained by esotericism and secret societies. He decided to go to the meeting to explain his thoughts. (I looked this up - what is esoterism? Here's what Wikipedia says).
       The term energy has been widely used by writers and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality. Spiritual energy is often closely associated with the metaphor of life as breath - the words 'qi', 'prana', and 'spirit', for instance, are all related in their respective languages to the verb 'to breathe'. Sometimes it is equated with the movement of breath in the body, sometimes described as visible "auras", "rays", or "fields" or as audible or tactile "vibrations". These are often held to be perceptible to anyone, though this may be held to require training or sensitization through various practices. Many energies of this type lack scientific evidence.
       R told these other students at the meeting that you can't gain understanding from the Bible. They weren't convinced but glad he came anyway. He talked to the guy from the US who led the group and was shown that from their perspective Jesus was the Savior of the World and that the Bible was the inspired words of God. The man was patient with R but R was not interested in believing. 2 years later the group leader felt R was so closed. He said this guy will never believe.
       R said to us, that fortunately, the guy was wrong. He felt God was opening his mind. His conviction was strengthened by reading the Bible more. He'd found out a certain number of Christians had been praying for him. "I began to believe that something was happening to me." I came to believe that Jesus was the Savior of the World and that the Bible was the inspired word of God.
       I didn't understand about rebirth. Six monthly later he said, "I received a strong conviction about my sin. That evening alone in my room, and has never happened since, I saw scenes of my life played out. You know how people see their life flash before them before they die? I began seeing things in my mind that I had done and how impure I was. I fell apart. It was like a pin in a balloon. I became more conscious of God. I remembered the holiness of God. I felt I couldn't come close to him. But, in the midst of this conviction I realized Jesus had taken my sin on him. The revelation of the cross became real to me and what it meant for me. In that moment God truly revealed himself to me. The room was full of light. I understood the love of God for me! A watershed moment. I never turned back." he said.
       "It was a revelation from God. As we turn to him we are completely forgiven."
       His studies led him first to become a computer professor. He went to Bible school in Grenoble for 3 years and to school in the US for 1 year. He got his Masters of Arts in Missions and he studied French history in the US. For 10 years he helped to start churches south of Grenoble. Then he began to get involved in a group where churches work together in France. He's been a pastor for 10 years in the Paris area - not far from where I'm currently living. He feels the doors are opening for the gospel in France.
       He said, "God's church goes across boundaries to work together. That's what we are doing." He's starting to see college students coming to Christ in the universities and in the ivy league schools here.

       Pray for R today as he embarks on a very big job in the coming months.
- Carol

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