Our Schedule:

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

A complete listing of very specific requests for prayer can be found under "Prayer Requests."

For those just getting to know us, please visit the special sections to the right.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Red hair and freckles

While standing a long time in the cashier line at Carrefour (a large chain of supermarkets in Europe), a young woman kept looking at me and finally began to speak to me in French. She said something rapidly which I did not catch so I said, "pardon" pronounced "pahrdoh". British English flowed from her at that point and she said, "where are you from". "I knew you weren't from here because of your red hair and freckles. My mom who is Scotch, Irish and Welsh has your coloring and freckles like many people of this descent. This young lady was a brunette, no freckles. She later added, "of course I got my dad's coloring."

I've come to find out that one can have a long conversation in the cashier line at most supermarchés. (When you see the accent mark over the é going to the right you pronounce it like a long a.)

We exchanged our names and what we were doing in this interesting country. She has worked here 4 years in the steel and glass industry and is fluent in French. I shared about my journey. She was fascinated. I sensed in her a frustration though in making French friends and suggested we meet for coffee sometime. I gave her my email and said she promised me that she would contact me. We've heard those words before but she did contact me and last Saturday we had lunch together near our office. She doesn't live far from there. She's even interested in visiting our church.

Who would think that red hair and freckles would bring such attention?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Les Contes de Deux Témoignages / The Tales of Two Testimonies

These are not fairy tales but real ones. One sounds normal to us and the other is not. We'll call one of the men R and the other K. R is French and from the southern suburbs of Paris. He was actually raised with Christian Protestant parents. Protestants are few and far between. He's now 29 years old. He became a Believer at the age of 7 but as he grew up like most young adults he questioned whether Jesus Christ was really Lord, and his Savior; God. For him, He was. After university he began working in a science lab as a scientist testing nuclear materials for power plants. He began wondering what was his goal in life. He began to consider how he could use his life as a better steward for the Lord. After 8 years in the lab he decided to take advantage of a year long sabbatical that companies allow their employees to take if they wish. He wanted to explore what his goals are and go to a Bible institute. The employee has to give all his/her co-workers a dinner before he leaves. They get to ask him questions or have the employee share their purpose in this.

We are starting to hear more of young couples or singles even with atheist parents who have asked Jesus to be a part of their lives and to think about becoming leaders. They love to share him with their young children. This will help with the advancement of the work here. That would be a prayer for more and more young French to step up. We heard earlier last week that in the next 10 years, 50% of the full-time Christian workers in France will be at retirement age.

Our next story is about K from Algeria who moved to Paris with his family when he was young. Many leave their homeland for a better life. K had gotten into drugs and alcohol as he was growing up. His father would beat his mother and there was a lot of violence in their area. His sister got married and her husband was a Jesus follower.  He gave K a Bible which made him disgusted. But his mother was depressed and he was a mess so he began to read it. He realized it wasn't about a religion but about God and how he thought. It was about how God wanted to have a relationship with the people he created.  He said, "We didn't know anything about a God who relates."

K decided to become a believer after reading and realized it was the truth. His mother was worried about K's drug addiction. She was upset at him for becoming a believer. Their relationship became strained. His dad just ignored him. But she noticed a huge change in her son. She had been suicidal as well and seeing her son in a new light drew her to Christ and she also became a Christian.  His father took more notice when she changed her heart. Even though he investigated into it he went back to his "magic". Many in their circle are into the occult even though some are very devout and pray 5 times a day and practice their religion. One night K went to a prayer meeting at his new church where the people in the church prayed for him and his drug and alcohol addiction. He was fully delivered from it!

K wanted more and is serving in a Christian ministry internship in downtown Paris now. There are over 200 neighborhoods in the Ill-de-France (Paris region that have troubled areas with large populations of K's people and other multi-cultural groups. This ministry he works for is an arm of CRU in Europe. They visit these neighborhoods and have BBQ's, free children's events, dance, street theatre, rap, you name it.  They offer training in growing in God and help these people in many ways to try and find them new places to worship. It's an amazing ministry. Our own France Vie is going to begin working more with this group, getting leadership training and begin church planting. We already have a couple who is beginning to raise their funds to work with this people group. This is ground breaking work for us in France. We have this type of work in London and our Italian and Spain work as well will begin this too. Those of you prayer warriors: Please pray for our European and regional Directors to have the wisdom to implement and ask the Lord to bring workers to do this.

Pray for us to know which team we will be on and the exact town he wants us to be in when we return.

This week and last we have begun painting and sprucing up our France Vie office. There was a fire and flood from the Indien restaurant below which affected our office. We have plenty of work and language study between now and the time we leave to get home for our daughter's graduation May 11th weekend. Until later....

Friday, April 20, 2012

Since the French Revolution...

Mainline Protestants and even the evangelical Protestants  could live openly in France. They were a small bunch and even up to World War II they were still small. Their growth went from 50,000 to 460,000. Today they are growing and more like 600,000 but still less than 1% - probably more like .08. In a country of over 61 million French, the Protestants as a whole are 1.2 million (many non-practicing) Evangelicals are included in that number. The Cnef - Council for the National Evangelicals of France - www.lecnef.org - said 40 years ago there were only 1200 churches in all of France. The goal is to have 1 church for 10,000 people. Right now on average there is 1 church for 30,000. (1 church of 25 - 100 people) But in Paris in 16th arrondissement - there is no evangelical church for 150,000 people! Currently, evangelicals have a little over 2000 churches in France but 4200 more churches are needed! In many mainline Protestant churches the gospel is not preached.

We had a speaker this past week at the prayer conference, Paul, (we'll refrain from mentioning last names) who just moved to that section of downtown Paris with his wife and child to begin a work there. It is very expensive to live in this section of town. There are 2 other couples who live further south in France who want to move there to help them. Trying to sell their house and being able to afford this area is another challenge. We would appreciate prayer for them.

How are evangelicals viewed in France? For most of the people in France it's "how you are born". If you were born Catholic, then you are a Catholic, whether you practice or not, if you were born Muslim, Buddhist, etc. then that's what you are whether you are practicing or not. If you say you are a Believer in Christ, they will say, that's good for you in times of death because it will give you comfort.

Many believe that evangelicals come from outside France. Even though they were here during the Reformation and called Huguenots or Protestants for protesting the Catholic policies. It used to be called a sect here and in some areas it still is because of ignorance. Since the times of President Bush it was called a sect - meaning a cult. The word, culte, in France means church. In the United States the word cult is a term whereby a group may say they are Christian but do not really follow what Christianity means (Who is Jesus to them is a tell-tale sign if it's really a Christian group. Is he God?) If Christ is not considered God then they get labeled a "cult". In France, churches are signified by the term culte or eglise. Catholic or Protestant. Either could mean church. France's use of our term "cult" would be "sect".

To graduate from high school in France the first day of tests revolve around Philosophy. The study of philosophy is very important in France.  French may be suspicious of absolute messages. They believe in meta stories, relativism, who can say what is true or not true. We have seen the tide turn this direction from our universities in the states. Masters of suspicion were Marx, Freud and Nitsche. The exciting news though, is that Christianity is now starting to be introduced in the universities in their philosophy curriculum. That is a huge move forward. It was taken out of students' learning quite a while ago.

Doors are opening.
Some of the verses we were asked to read came from Jer. 33:3,  Eph. 6:19, Col. 4:2-3, Ps. 5:3

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ruminations from a Thrown Away Desk

It's been awhile since we posted. The last 2 weeks have been in preparations for our conference and working la conference. The first day we talked about Obstacles to faith in France. Here are some answers from people about faith. Take these obstacles and talk to the Father about them. We'll share the positive stories tomorrow.

1. I believe, I just don't practice. (would you say I'm a nudist, I just don't practice my belief?")
2. Hypocrisy
3. Hearts of stone.
4. Sorry, I keep this personal/private and they won't talk.

5. Property for the churches are almost non-existent to come by - 1905 law of separation of church and state. Mosques are getting preferential treatment with the mayors. Some EV protestant churches that are outside (not part of) of the newly formed Evangelical federation rent buildings that are not safe. You may have heard of the Haitian church in Stains, France where the floor caved in killing some people. They are not part of our EV federation but it's a very sad situation. They had 100 people praising God and dancing when it collapsed. It was supposed to be a ballroom. This has raised some very good discussion on TV and in the newspapers raising awareness. We end up getting small retail spaces, hotels, meet in homes, etc. This can be a deterrent to a French person who thinks it might be a sect and not a bona-fide Protestant church. They see a beautiful Catholic church building in their minds.

6. Many French are very tolerant for everything but Christianity - think it's not intellectual but they really don't know. (they worship reason, humanism, relativism). This has been taught to them in school from philosophers like Voltaire, Sartre, etc.

7. Materialism - Technology hasn't met their needs. They are seeking spirituality but turning to occult, orientals, new age, fortune tellers, magic, astrology.

8. Who is our fight with really? I think you know.

9. France was consecrated to Mary long ago. You can see at the crossroads a cross.

10. Betrayal - live behind shutters, walls to protect themselves. They think if they become Christians they will become dangerous. (think of all the wars).

11. Ignorance - 85% never opened a Bible. In the last 2 years the Bible is being found in bookstores. One of the largest stores in the world - Carrefour - used to sell them but decided to stop. But sometimes we can't put up a table and give them out or sell them cheap.

12. Children taught how to do sorcery, fantasy roles in school. When the children would come to one of our teammate's classes she said they would throw tantrums and act very strange.  They couldn't even be in her presence. She began to pray and they calmed down.

13. Learning curve about what Evangelical Protestants are. Extreme Christians put on Media.  (sound familiar?) More and more good journalism is starting to come out and the Evangelical Federation (CNEF) is getting good marketing out about who we are. The Minister of the Interior just recognized our Federation in 2011! They are happy we have one office they can go to and now journalists are showing up at their door to get good information.

14. Suicide is still high. Many people think about it and usually have a family member who have done it.

15. Promiscuity high - You must sleep around unless you are a priest.  You can't relate to me if you are not like me. It's accepted in French society for the men to have a mistress or vice versa for the women to affairs if they want in marriage. This is the cause of major divorce here even in our churches.

16. 60% of North African Muslims live in Paris. Government officials (mayors) seem to support Muslims over others. Jesus is the obstacle.

17. Of people polled - 62% want to know more about God but embarrassed - afraid of ridicule. And don't know who to talk to. That's because there are not enough believers to talk to them.

18.  Complete computer crashes from one of our teammates, our stolen computers. Lots of technology weirdness. You know who is at work here.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Joyeuse Pâques!

By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify many, 
as He will bear their iniquities.  Isaiah 53:11
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, 
and give His life a ransom for many.  Mark 10:45

Monday, April 2, 2012

The girl in the gray SNCF suit with her matching conductor hat blew the whistle loud and clear then hit the buzzer for the final call to board the train.

Off to Gisors we went. Russell had the rolling black bag and I had the bulging black purse filled with our snacks of gouda cumin (as the French reads on the bag) and our last piece of my coconut custard pie. I was sure the pie was getting squashed inside.

The French love "coco" and so do we. I add it to our granola if it isn't already in it. The French love their chocolate too. It seems most of their cereal has some form of shaved cacao in its contents. Did I mention heaven?

Since I haven't figured out what the different milks are available as there are a multitude; I'm sure we are not drinking skim and most certainly not 1%. Demi écreme may be 2%. Russell is in heaven and so am I. It's sweeter and has a lucious flavor. Those cows must be eating wonderful grass.

Of course, I digress from the main point of this story. It's easy to do because we are going to be on this train for 1 1/2 hrs. to Gisors - in Normandy and my mind is wandering. Gisors is one of our new locations to start a church.

The nearby Catholic priest is allowing our group to use one of their rooms in their church building to start the Alpha Course. It's a series of at least 10 sessions on various topics. If you ever hear of an Alpha Course near you I highly suggest you attend one if you have questions about God and what is he up to with all of us human beings and the universe. They are free and usually have a meal at each evening. There's a topical video and you can ask questions in a small discussion group after. Very wonderful and safe.

Tonight we will be helping Gisors with their first Alpha event. Gisors is a beautiful old village with an 11th century castle.

I've never seen so much grafitti along the way. I wonder if there are coffee table books of Paris' grafitti. This is the side that most people don't see and it's everywhere by train. Some of it is very creative.