A heart for france

A view of eternity

25 Aug 2014

On one of our Sunday afternoon drives (a French custom and also to give our son some driving practice and to get away from too much screen time!), we visited a gorgeous typical Ardèche village. As we have wound our way around many of the roads here, we are struck by the number of cemeteries with a magnificent view of the country side. Have to say that Ardèche is very hilly.

NB the word 'cemetery' comes from latin 'coemeteruim', greek 'koimeterion' meaning 'sleeping place'. Reminds me of 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

Did you know that since the Wars of Religion spanning the 1598 to the 20th century, Protestants buried their dead in their own family plots near the family house? They weren't allowed in the Catholic cemeteries, which were consecrated ground. In the town where we live, the cemeteries only became mixed after World War 2 when space became a problem and secularism more militant.

1598 Edit de Nantes which gave Protestants the right to their own religious practices, but outside the towns and cities

1685 the Annulment of the Edit de Nantes which insisted that Catholicism be the only religion in France. This was linked to loyalty to the King.

1787 Protestants regained the right to practise their faith as they wished.

Death is the great equalizer. What happens after you die? Do you have the right view of eternity?

The Protestant Church in the village we explored on Sunday. The French Reformed Church has now united with the French Lutheran Church to form the Protestant United Church (Eglise Protestante Unie). This building was built in the 1500s, destroyed in 1600s, rebuilt 1822. Inside is a portable pulpit used for the services held in secret in the countryside during the persecution period.


25 Aug 2014

Our holiday time in July was reasonably R & R, but our first week saw us sending off No.1 son to Australia for a year's study. (He's settling in nicely and not far from his grandparents.)

The rest of the time we supported No.2 son who has spent 6 weeks picking cherries and pears, although there was a lot of rain which spoiled crops. And with No.3, our daughter, we did odd-jobs around the house, outings, just hung out and read.

Back at work since first week of August; and our main preoccupation - what should our priorities be given that we think we are going to have to change churches at the end of this new school year. Too many ideas of what we'd like to do and see happen, and not enough clarity in what God sees as priority. It's not easy to cope with. It's not helped by a real lack of ideas/initiative/even expressed desires from our main congregation whose numbers have dropped to 25 regulars.

So my first priority is to pray with as many of these people as possible and to be part of a specific group which prays as a ministry in spiritual combat for our area. There are many people to reach here with the Gospel, many relationships that could be encouraged.

Example: one of the local café owners is very open to discussions. Pascal and I decided to have a coffee there once a week over summer to have time for ourselves and the owner kept coming to our table to chat.

Example: I know several women (through our children) who could be invited to a Bible discovery type coffee morning, but I wanted another woman at least from our church to be involved .... hard to pin down.

Example: our former chapel and manse were sold to a local artist/journalist who has stated publicly that he and his partner feel negative energies in the manse! There is a real opportunity to go and investigate this with him and to bring the Holy Spirit into the affair! But the reaction of our church members was very passive: they don't believe these things and were more inclined to ignore the opportunity because they didn't agree, rather than confront the issue and work through it. Where is our Christian testimony ? Where is our difference ?



Pray for France - a lot of searching for spiritual truths, but not enough Christians taking on the challenge of being a viable alternative (so to speak!)

End of an era

09 Jul 2014

Last Sunday we held a special service for our young people. They are leaving the area to pursue studies and work options and we will no longer be able to coordinate regular activities for them. We hope to take them along to different youth gatherings and there are 3 weekends in perspective.

Our message for them: we did what we could to transmit our faith to them; we didn't always do it well, but we love them, are proud of them and of all that they have contributed over the last 7 years and we have prayed for them: which we will continue to do. Have we sown enough ? Only God knows what will develop. We also encouraged them to continue to explore the Christian faith and to be open to expressing their faith in different ways to us. Also to let God surprise and amaze them. He can't be stuck in a box!

It was a special time: not something that our church members are used to doing and certainly not standing around holding hands! so we were pleased to see them being able to do things differently.

May God take care of them.

On a personal note, our eldest son is returning to Australia for a year's study to get his Bachelor of Business Studies. His Bachelor will be recognised in France and in Australia. We are very grateful for this chance. Pray that God will use this wonderful experience to help him grow in his faith.

Millenium generation

01 Jul 2014

Have been so busy with end of school year activities and wind up and juggling with all the kids being back home. So scrolling through Facebook, I found this post. It will well and truly keep you busy reading and reflecting on our current generation and its relationship to institutionalised church.
I am very grateful for the way Frank Powell has described the generation and the problem with church life today in many churches. In a nutshell, his description fits our current situation and why we have to do something about it. I'm going to translate it to try and spur on the necessary changes. I'm also part of a team in our Union of churches who are going to accompany the Vitality Pathway (from Grace Covenant Churches in USA) adapted to our French context. It's a bit of the unknown and an exciting move. I just pray our own church will agree to go down that road.

Anyway, here's the link: think of us as you read it and PLEASE PRAY!


Our precious young people

15 May 2014

We've been really busy lately with 3 packed weeks of ministry. We had 2 weeks of school holidays, so had a 3-day Vacation Bible Club with a space theme. The leader spoke about the astronaut James Irwin, then the life of Jesus, then the fact that Jesus is coming back one day  and are we ready for him?


Then a big day with 3 local youth groups. I organised the theme on 'No more electricity: how can we cope?' at the isolated home of one of our church families. There were 4 challenges to complete in teams: how to kill and prepare a chicken, how to recognise edible plants and some of their medicinal uses, collecting and storing wood, making an oil lamp. The message was 'working as a team, focus on the essential and God provides all that we need'. I used many verses from Psalm 119 and we found lots of references elsewhere to show that God's word is all sufficient and He helps us in all situations of life.

After that it was the church lunch and fellowship meeting - for the first time in a long time we were able to sit around together and look at our church's weakened situation. Thank God for this special time.

Then 3 days of National Pastors' conference where we mainly presented the Vitality Pathway - designed to help churches evaluate if they are healthy, missional churches or not, and then to accompany them through the process of getting it together again and letting the Holy Spirit take his rightful place.

Not only do we need to do this for ourselves and our churches, but for our young people who are eager to believe and to follow the Lord and who want to be convinced by seeing alive, passionate Christians living out their faith!

See my other blog page for more details and photos:


A little after Easter

06 May 2014

Pascal was ministering at our other church in Lyon, so I invited a whole family over for Easter lunch on Sunday. It is also a host family for a Canadian girl over here for 3 months and they wanted her to experience a typical French luncheon which lasts for at least 3 hours! The family is also a foster family for 3 slightly disabled adults, so it was one big table and lots of conversation. Someone had given us the hind leg of a wild boar as a thank you for services rendered. I made a Simnel cake from a recipe I had in Australia. I love the symbolism of the 11 eggs representing the disciples minus Judas Iscariot.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Things are spiralling, but not necessarily out of control!

16 Apr 2014

"Toute ascension vers un endroit merveilleux se fait par un escalier en spirale." Francis Bacon


"All goings-up towards a wonderful place pass by a spiral staircase." 


When we talk about getting somewhere, reaching goals, putting something into place, there's always that sense of climbing up and reaching for the heights. We often use mountain images, the sky, the heavens...

When we are young we usually think it's a matter of just getting on to it and getting there pretty directly. We older ones now realize that life is really full of spirals!

'Two steps forward; one step back' is the optimistic version.

'One step forward; two steps back' is the pessimistic version!

I think spirals are pretty. And, honestly, when you have heaps of stairs to climb, spirals are less taxing; the steps are often smaller and you can't see the end so you live in perpetual hope of arriving at the top just around the next bend! In France there are millions of spiral staircases. I can speak of the real ones in high fortified towers and gracious castles. Or I could speak of the metaphorical ones, which are hard work and difficult to be motivated for.

France is a difficult country when it comes to achieving anything from education to job creation to changing attitudes and developing productive relationships. It's not impossible, but it takes a lot of energy.


In our church union, we are introducing a new process which we hope will bring maturity and growth to those churches that decide to commit to this pathway. It's called Vitality. We have already talked about spirals and how to encourage them to advance rather that to go backwards. I'll let you know how we get on when the process really gets underway. Please pray for optimism and energy. We are aiming high on this one!

Pithy sayings ...

05 Apr 2014

Hello after a rather long silence!

Things have been hotting up since I last wrote and I have a mass of things to process in my head and to share with my husband and my church before I can summarize for you what it is all about.

In the meantime; here is one small reflection which will also give you a taste of things to come (with apologies to those who follow my personal blog, since it is the same article).

I collect quotes.

And bits of paper float around my desk because there is no more room on my notice board.

So I decided to tidy up by sharing these with you! You'll get the French version and I'll try and translate.


"La franchise ne consiste pas à dire tout ce que l'on pense mais à penser tout ce que l'on dit." Proverbe tchadien.


"Being frank doesn't mean saying what one thinks, but means thinking what one says." Chadian proverb


We just had our church's Annual General Meeting and it was rather a sad affair. We noted that the financial situation renders the possibility of paying a pastor less and less sure. What was even sadder was the heavy atmosphere and the passivity. No one, absolutely no one asked any questions or tried to engage a discussion on the whys and wherefores of our situation.


I made enquiries and discovered that in the past there had been some very violent discussions in the church and now they no longer dared to raise their questions or to state their positions. Our job as pastors is to change this modus operandi. Even if we have to leave in a year's time, we need to work on being open, honest, frank and clear, but in the correct way which honours those who are listening and especially in a way which is God-honouring.


01 Jan 2014

Of course we don't know what this New Year will bring, but we can guess some aspects: the every day life may not be very different, but circumstances can change, sometimes dramatically.

We can dream our dreams and work towards achieving them.

We can pray about a millions topics, but in the end we know we can also pray "your will be done". We have the presence of God in us through his Holy Spirit and that alone should be enough to keep us in focus, alive and well.

May this be your experience for 2014. God bless you all. Please continue to pray for France: "Your kingdom come; your will be done ...."

On a personal note: was blessed by the chance to be in Australia for my Dad's 80th birthday surprise.

Be yourself, free yourself !

31 Oct 2013

"..whatever your do, do it for the glory of God", 1 Cor 10:31

Union Jeunes

This is the title of a 4-day Youth Gathering starting today. Off to our Union of Churches' holiday/conference centre at 1000m (could be snow!) with 8 members of our youth group and we'll be meeting up with around 250 other young people from all over France, including 8 other youth from my husband's other church - attending for the first time! Yay, team! It's a creative theme this year with cartoon artists, Rap, music, stand-up comedian, and looking at ways in which God uses us to reach our contemporaries.

Pray that our young people get inspired and commit themselves to carrying on the work of the Kingdom.


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