A heart for france

God also nourishes our faith in order to fulfill the mission He's given us

25 Oct 2013

Thanks to SIM Australia's Kookaburra newsletter for Aussie missionaries.

"I have discovered that much of the enemy’s plan to destroy us has to do with wearing us out. The missionary life is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

Did you have a tough day? Get some space. Take a nap. Take a walk. Listen to some music. Don’t overact to the day. Rather, respond by the Spirit. Instead of reacting to the daily fluctuations of the “spiritual stock exchange,” choose to be a long-term investor in the Word of God. If you remain faithful, your ministry will reap eternal dividends.

The enemy loves to place a large map of the Sahara Dessert in front of your face and remind you how difficult your journey is going to be. As you look at the many challenges set before you, a demon whispers in your ear, “Even if you make it through this day, look how far you still have to go. It is going to take you weeks,  months, even decades to get across this desert and you are thirsty already. Give  up now! Turn around! Go back to Egypt!” Discouragement is a powerful weapon.The enemy wants you to become overwhelmed and to give up the ground you’ve worked so hard to gain. Remember the Lord’s words: “Do not  worry about tomorrow...each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).  When you are weary, don’t think too much or talk too much. Don’t even glance at the big map when you’re tired. Set your sites on getting to the next shelter where  you can rest."

~ Dr. Robert S. Miller, Spiritual Survival Handbook for Cross-Cultural workers   (p. 37)

What was that story about the man called Jesus?

18 Oct 2013

Here's a cute story:
Pascal and I met one of the mums whose boy is attending our day-long club next Wednesday. We asked if she knew whether another mother would be interested in knowing about our Bible Club day, because we weren't sure of her position on the Christian faith. Jarod's mum replied: "in any case, it doesn't really matter. One hour of Bible stories won't change much. What the kids like best is getting together with their friends. My son Jarod is a bit vague on this Christian stuff. The other day he was telling us about this man called Jesus who drowned in some water and when he came back to life and came out of the water he had holes in his hands!" Obviously Jarod needs to fill in a few gaps in his story!

The Thinker - angelic version

17 Oct 2013

Tatyana, the Ukrainian lady who is very artistic and very evangelical, gave me this angel as a gift after her time in the Ukraine.


Her reason? "This looks like you, thinking hard about what you could be organising for Lamastre ! "(meaning evangelical and outreach activities).


I may not be an angel, but I do think hard about what we could be doing to open up the way for people to hear about the Lord God. Sometimes, I don't even have to think hard - the ideas come as I wake up or go to sleep and I have to write them down as quickly as possible so as not to forget them.


The next stage is the hardest - praying about the ideas and being patient in waiting for the Lord to direct. Then 'selling' the idea in order to build a team, getting it past the Church Council, having their approval and understanding.


The easiest bit is the actual organising.


My latest idea - organising a St Valentine's Day dinner for couples - firstly in our church, then for so many others whom we know. The French Alpha Course organisation has a package we could use. As a Christian Counsellor and pastor's wife, I'm in touch with so many heartbreaking stories of couples breaking up that I have a real burden to organise things that will help couples.


Please pray with me that this idea can come to fruition.

Some wear different hats; I have different bags!

09 Oct 2013

This is my desk. One of the wonderful advantages of this manse is that my husband and I have a room big enough for a proper office and both our desks.


You can see that I'm definitely an active person. But note all the bags around this desk. I have a system - all my different activities go into their own bag. So I can grab the correct bag, and my handbag, without messy transfers where you always forget something, and run!

Featured in today's picture: Youth Group, Teens Bible study/catechism, arts and crafts bag (which shouldn't be there in fact - should have put it away in the cupboard!), bag of material to give back to my sister-in-law (whom we never really get to see), African material bag (for I don't know what event ... someone returned it to me recently), 2 filing cabinets, computer bag, box of papers to file. The Ladies' group stuff is in the bookshelves, current articles 'under construction' are on the desk, as are the current reading material and current files, and listening material I want to copy for others.

I know women are into multi-tasking, but maybe this is carrying it a little too far!

Pray for discernment and that we can be encouraging others to develop their skills and capacities.

Nearly forgot to mention that the pile of ironing was at my feet as I took the photo!

Back to school

08 Sep 2013

Last Monday teachers and students went back to 'normal life'!

Ours reported being very satisfied with their teachers and having the relevant important friends in the class with them.

I've finished planning the first term's Youth Group activities/themes. I found they almost all fall into the category 'Social Justice, Integrity and Commitment'. We've lost a couple of excellent elements in the group - one girl is in Canada for 3 months on exchange, another has to stay in Lyon for her studies - and our group is mainly boys 14-17/18 years old! Mmmm....... I'm not exactly the sporting type, so I'm hoping that lively discussions will do the trick.

Our boys can be quite cynical about the world. "It's not worth it the effort!" is the phrase I hear most. They are not very idealistic and not yet all convinced that Christianity is the way to go. I'm hoping the themes will broaden their horizons, will show them that even a drop in the ocean is worth it, and that they will be convinced that committing to Christ is vital as well as a commitment that translates into action and compassion.

Apart from my programme (my co-worker has a heavy workload this year and can't be as involved), the teens have a combined youth group 3 times a year (Sept/Feb/May) and will participate in our Church Union's Youth Gathering beginning Nov. The theme this year: "BE YOURSELF, BE FREE!" - yes, the title is in English - it's cool to pepper one's conversation with English words! Based on 1 Cor 10: 31 '..whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God' and will be about creativity, art, dance, music - expressing oneself and one's faith with the idea of witnessing.

There are 2 generations of French who have no contact with real Christianity. Pray that we can inspire our youth to explore their faith and be relevant to their generation.

Following the previous article...Benevolence, and all that jazz!

21 Aug 2013

I still haven't thrown out the article I quoted from in the previous blog! It's been floating around the house as I've changed work stations depending on the different activities of each member of this family - 3 of whom are still on holidays and 2 of whom are trying to concentrate on the matters in hand!!!


This article by Jean-Pierre Denis, Editor of La Vie magazine (a current affairs magazine with a liberal Catholic philosophy) really struck me as a true representation of a certain French mentality and because it's written by a Frenchman, I feel more confident about publishing it! So you don't just hear my understanding of our French context, you hear a thoughtful analysis from the French point of view. [I've added capitals and [ ] to clarify my translation]


"The second dynamic which urgently needs to be put into action is the necessity of assuming our history, our heritage and the continuity of our values. In other words, concentrating on the idea of TRANSMISSION and not on 'dislocation'. Developing the capacity to be amazed/in awe/IN WONDER: in other words, the taste of the future which can be born through us. Transmission: the hope which nourishes the past. WONDER, TRANSMISSION: 2 strengths which hold each other up firmly. Two ways of seeing things which have been pushed to the side in a civilization in the grip of dispersed affections and competition between so many egos. Two underused resources in the [French] education system and very clearly not encouraged by our media who are so ready to deride and to be cynical/sceptical."


I have been disappointed by the French education system, finding it very negative, not teaching according to different learning abilities, favorizing academic achievement (in a little disguised system of streaming) and not all kinds of learning and career choices. And my analysis is that many of the difficulties experienced by the French are in direct relation to their quite destructive teaching methods.

Even what we value as the gift of encouragement is seen to be highly suspicious in French eyes, and my prayer has often been that Christians would understand the negative side of this culture and learn the value of encouragement. They have a lovely word which so describes God's way of looking at us: 'bienveillance': looking kindly upon, benevolent.

May we look kindly upon each other and be encouraged to live out our Christian values thus making a difference to this country.

Holidays are over !

05 Aug 2013

We had a pleasant 3 weeks, staying in our home, enjoying the garden and the things that our lovely Ardèche area of France offers to holiday makers (of which there are 1000s at this time!)

Now back to work.

The following quote comes from a Catholic Christian magazine editorial, but dates from 28th August, 2008. I'd obviously kept it (found it while sorting out all those papers you accumulate...) because it rang true for me. And now I've re-read it (should I keep it? throw it out?) it still rings true. Here's an extract:


The famous French angst is probably rooted in a kind of anguish at the thought of failure, a contradictory fear of the future which leads straight to disillusionment. It's the same in all areas of life: economics, psychology, in one's private life as in public life. We have forgotten the road to confidence and trust. Obviously, there is much to be anxious about [....] But maybe our good resolution for the return to work and school should be to stop this spiral of lack of confidence. And to put into motion that which struggles to exist in each of us. Let's try to find the naïve freshness of faith, this simplicity which allows us to be open to the beauty of things around us. In other words, the capacity to be amazed.

Jean-Pierre Denis

Editor, La Vie magazine.


Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday a team of 12 French missionaries are contacting holiday makers here in Lamastre, inviting them to speak about their ideas on God, inviting them to a concert Tuesday night and an art exhibition Wed and Thurs. Please pray we can speak to those who are seeking, plant the seeds of faith, encourage those who have lost faith and be part of God's touch on their lives.

God is in charge

06 Jun 2013

"God holds the high center,

he sees and sets the world's mess right.

He decides what is right for us earthlings,

gives people their just deserts."        Psalm 9: 7,8 The Message

Last Sunday in our Junior High School Bible class (we call it the catechism in our church - same word as for the Catholics!) we continued to look at why the Bible is such a rich source of life for us. We calculated the time we spend in front of various screens and then how much time per day we would need to read through the Bible in one year. The challenge then is : 10 minutes a day : which book of the Bible do you choose to get through and then see how long it takes. One chose Genesis, the other Revelation (we only have 2 in this group) and they chose the Psalms for me to do. For the moment we are staying disciplined and getting through our time allotment! And I'm reading the Psalms in The Message because it makes me think about what is really being said. I'm re-discovering ideas and thoughts I'd forgotten and given our social context (gay marriage, gender theory in schools, corruption etc) some of these psalms pack a punch! I find it very reassuring to be reminded that the Lord is Sovereign and will bring about full justice in his time. A challenge for me to be ready and to have encouraged as many as possible to do the same.

Perfect love casts out fear

31 May 2013

My sending church, Hamilton Baptist Community Church, sends me its weekly church bulletins. It's great to keep up with their activities and some news. I like reading the Pastor's Pen - how many times has the subject echoed for us here in France? - our Western society is so going down the wrong path in many ways!

For prayer, they list the members of the church family by family, individual by individual and also give a specific prayer point for each day. This coming Sunday's point is:

Ask God to strengthen your faith when evil seems to triumph

This seemed so appropriate to me because, although we are not in direct persecution or physical danger here in France (or in Australia), every day we are confronted by evidence of evil and the consequences of evil. I can be very evangelical in saying that we can easily find evidence of badness in our own lives - deal with the log in our own eye before trying to get rid of the piece of straw in another's - but the good news is we CAN deal with this evil and get rid of it. However, French Christians are feeling overwhelmed by the evidence of evil in our own country (sexual scandals, gay marriage, financial corruption, power plays, bizarre conception of democracy, lies that certain are particularly keen to pass on to our youth and the list goes on...) Our pastoral role is to encourage Christians to pray and to act as written above. This joins what we were saying at the Pastoral meeting. See previous blog entry.

This Sunday is also our Church Union's Evangelism Day to raise awareness in our churches about the continuing need to do our part in witnessing. Pray that our church service this Sunday will keep the fire burning in our small community. We have work to do!

Our job is to witness about our hope

29 May 2013

Yesterday we had our regional Pastor's meeting. The day started off with a look at the following text:

1 Peter 3:13-17

New International Version (NIV)

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats]">[a]; do not be frightened.”]">[b] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

My italics.

We said a lot of things on this text: we will suffer for following Jesus because He overturns the values of this world;  we need to keep Christ at the centre of all things, then we will act correctly and in harmony with His heavenly principles; we mustn't sin ourselves when hard-pressed by circumstances or persecution; we need have no fear (remembering that perfect love casts out all fear); and, in particular, there was a discussion about our main task as Christians. I highlighted the text : it's our testimony to who God is in our lives and from whom we get our hope. So this reminds us that HOPE is the distinguishing feature of all mature Christians. God gives us the rest: peace, faith and love.


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