A Living Christmas Tree… literally!

Downtown Paris was eerily quiet…

Last Sunday in Paris

Eiffel Tower, Carrousel, Trocadero, Paris

Although I shared some photos with you, earlier in the week, I didn’t talk too much about the day.

I caught a 6:41am train in order to be in Paris for morning service. Arriving around 8:30, I took advantage of the beautiful sunny morning to walk to church. As I walked, I prayed: Prayed for the service that would soon begin and prayed for this city… recently brought to its knees and still recovering.

Service went well. There were probably about 60 people and though they said that there were a lot missing, when you’re used to a “home-missions-sized” crowd… 60 is a full house!

Ambassadors

I spoke on the apostle Paul as an ambassador. God said of Paul that he was a “chosen vessel”, chosen to bear the name of Jesus (Ac.9).  Just like Paul, each born again Christian, is a chosen vessel… chosen to bear the name of Jesus to the world around us. If ever a city was in need of such ambassadors… Paris, in November 2015, is such a place. Lord help us to appropriately bear your name… bringing hope.

After Church…

Following service I had lunch onsite, had coffee & dessert downtown with one of the church families then spent 4-5 hours walking. I wanted to pick up a few things for Christmas and I wanted to continue to spend time praying in the city… connecting, feeling…

Five things I learned or noted:

1. Downtown hotels are eerily empty (with some at 35-40% capacity).
2. Streets are pretty empty
3. Security personnel are EVERYWHERE… and heavily armed.
4. There were crowds at Paris’ Christmas Market, otherwise…
5. Pre-Christmas retail sales were down 30% last week & 17% this week

People have been affected by the attacks! I’m glad we know the peace-giver.

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Beginning to look a lot like…

Châtellerault, Pont Henri IV, La Vienne, Chateauneuf, Noël

While many of you celebrated US Thanksgiving this week, here it’s beginning to look like Christmas (The Thanksgiving holiday isn’t celebrated here).

City crews in Châtellerault have been putting up lights for weeks already, but this was the first week that we saw them lit up. Here you can see some located just on the far end of the Henry IVth bridge.

Speaking of Christmas…

Christmas Tree, Sapin de Noël, Jardiland, Châtellerault, 2015

We picked up our Christmas Tree this week.

It’s the first time in a long while that we’ve gone out and bought one, having caved in a few years ago and gotten a fake one back home. We’d actually gone out to pick up a few trays of pansies (a common source of colour in winter gardens here) when I saw that trees had arrived at the local Jardiland.

Timo & decided compromised between cost and eco-friendliness: for the first time ever, we have a living Christmas tree (it’s in a pot and can be planted outside after Christmas… how cool is that!?).

Reality Check: I think a good church fundraiser might be to plant Christmas trees on our huge property, then in 10 years or so, we can sell ’em!  A 6-foot tree like we’d typically get back home runs for 75 euros ($105 CAD or $79USD)… this little guy was no where near that amount.  Good heavens!

Outreach

PrayforParis, Châtellerault, UPCI, Église, pentecôtiste

Our printed cards arrived this week which means that we’ll be able to begin handing them out in the next couple of days. The idea is to “strike while the iron is hot” so to speak… to get these into people’s hands while everything is still fresh.

The cards simply give people 3 verses to contemplate as they mourn the attacks and question the uncertainty of the days in which we live. It also gives them the church’s Facebook and web pages should any want to connect with us afterwards: This is the goal. Pray with us that these make their way to people who need a touch from God and are hungry for Him.

That’s all for today

If you missed the gallery of pictures that I posted earlier this week, you can see it here.
Thank you for praying and giving financially… your support is causing growth in France.

If you’re in the Atlantic District… look for an article written by Sophie, Dominic & Timo for the November issue of the Pentecostal Messenger (for those not in the Atlantic District, I’ll be posting it here in the next few weeks).

If you’re in need of Christmas gift ideas and are reading from Saint John… our home church, Mission Point (130 Mark Drive), is having their annual Christmas Craft Fair: 28 tables of crafts, home baking, preserves, etc….

God bless you today, now go be an Ambassador!

 

Day in Paris: Photos

Thank you for all of you who were praying about my day in Paris yesterday, it went well. I’ll relay more details in Saturday’s post but I wanted to share more photos than I typically do.

If you know someone who loves Paris, longs to go or longs to go BACK
share this gallery with them.

(NOTE: click on any photo to enlarge)

 

Many of you have already seen the kids’ evangelism ressource below,
but just in case some haven’t…
5 ways that we can all be like the Eiffel Tower and be a witness for God

Also… want to know more about what the Lord is doing in France on a regular basis?
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Paris Tomorrow

Oh the difference a week can make!

France has been the highlight of so much attention over the past week and many, many, many of you have contacted us to say that you are praying: for us, for our church and for this country…

Thank you!

#ParisAttacks & Tribute

Although I was in Melun last weekend (50km from Paris), we live 350km away. Nonetheless, the entire nation has been affected and it’s been a little surreal to live here at this time.

La Mairie, Châtellerault, #PrayforParis, hommageEven in our quiet provincial town of 35,ooo, within hours of the attacks, people began bringing flowers, notes of tribute and lighting candles on the steps of La Mairie (City Hall) in memory of the victims.#ParisAttacks, Châtellerault, la France, Prière, #PrayforFrance

It was moving to walk by there on Sunday afternoon and see a steady flow of people, of all ages, making their contribution to the makeshift memorial… pausing to read and contemplate others’ contributions. This was part of mourning… part of grieving.

One thing that struck me was that, far removed from English-dominated world of social media or internet news, the English hashtag #PrayforParis would find its way onto handwritten notes on the steps of our city hall (English is not as common here as in larger centers). For the French to so openly evoke prayer is no small thing.

“Strike while the iron is hot”

PrayforParis, Châtellerault, UPCI, Église, pentecôtisteGiven the use of #PrayforParis… throughout the country, we’ve developed an outreach tool that we plan to use within the next two weeks.

It’s simply an oversized business card showing the Eiffel Tower and Châtellerault’s Henry IVth bridge. On the back it has 3 verses to communicate Christ’s care and purpose for us… even in the midst of troublesome times.

This will be a bold undertaking for our little church. Please join us in prayer.

Connecting Kids

Kids everywhere are aware of events in Paris this week. Would you like a ready-made, 5-min object lesson to connect kids & youth to their own missions potential?

Discover
5 ways that each of us can be like the Eiffel Tower

by clicking here!
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Mission Conference at Home

Last night our home church in Saint John kicked off their annual World Missions Conference with guest speakers Raymond Woodward, Jack Leaman and Allan Calhoun.

This is the first time in 18 years that we won’t be at Missions Conference. Given our love for missions, this was always a highlight. What’s more… Bros. Woodward and Leaman were on staff in the Saint John church when Liz & I began attending back in the late 1990’s. I take comfort in the fact that, in one way, we’re closer to missions now than we ever were!

Paris Tomorrow

Eiffel Tower, Tour EiffelTomorrow I will be rising early and boarding a train for Paris where I will be speaking at the church in Paris-Centre (the other church over which Bro. Brochu has responsibility), I’ve been there before. In Bro. Brochu’s absence it has been pastored by fellow AIMers Dean & Loreen Byfield, who’ve been doing an excellent job!  Glad to go back there tomorrow.

Pray for traveling safety and for a powerful move of God in service there as well as in Châtellerault.

It will be unique to be back in the capital one week after the attacks, but I look forward to it.  As the song says… “You’re the God of this city”

Finally

Thank you for visiting today… let what you read inform your prayers for us and for France.
God bless you today!

Youth Convention

Stop the Presses…

IMG_5004

… before I do or say one more thing, I have to stop and say…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

…to my number one baker and “French Painter”Timo.

Since arriving in France he has become an incredible drummer, taken great interest in baking, cooking and making authentic Italian pizza crust from scratch (he rocks). People love being around him and he’s making more friends than he probably realizes. He’s a JOY and we are so proud of this AIMKid!

Today is the actual day but we celebrated with friends earlier in the week because dad teaches at the Bible School today. Incidentally, he is holding a home-made backboard for the basketball net that we picked up in the summer. Our next door neighbour made it for him… how cool is that!?

Youth Convention

Dammarye-les-lys, European Youth Convention, EPUFrance, Église Pentecôtiste Unie, Baron Jen Carson, AIM, AIM2Go

Last weekend we were in Melun for the national youth convention (YC). It actually doubles, somewhat, as a European YC since there were people there from Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Estonia, the UK and all over France.

Rev. Chadwick King (Santa Rosa, CA) was the guest speaker and was tremendous. In the top picture you’ll see that I was translating for Bro. King. What an honour to help in the area of translation.

Not only did our kids enjoy being around other youth, but we had a couple of young people with us who were there for the first time. They too enjoyed it much and are already excited to come back next year. Praying at the altar, they were so hungry for the presence of God and the gift of the Holy Ghost: I’ve said it before God is doing a great work in our Sunday School kids!  Thank you Jesus.

Little touch of Holland

We’d been looking forward to meeting fellow AIMers Baron & Jen Carson of Bosier City, Louisiana and it happened at YC (see pic above). They assist at the church in Dordrecht Holland and what a pleasure to serve on AIM with such great folks as them.

If you have an interest in, or burden for, Holland… check out their site: HopeforHolland.com, and consider partnering with them.

Monday Monday…

Châtellerault, la manufacture, cheminéeAfter a busy YC weekend, followed by a 3.5hr drive back home Sunday night, Monday was a low-key day at home for the most part. Only at around supper time did the whole family venture out together to watch the sunset from the old smoke-stacks at la Manufacture downtown, normally a great vantage point. With winter time now in effect and the sun moving quickly, we actually arrived just after it had set, but still enjoyed getting out in the fresh air together.

We weren’t alone up there however, there happened to be another family… a mom & her two boys who spoke English. We struck up a conversation with them which lasted nearly an hour and a half. They too were an ex-pat family who’d moved to Châtellerault from Melbourne Australia. They’d been here for roughly a year and a half and were homeschooling their kids until just recently when they’d enrolled them in school. In short… there were tons of parallels between our two families (right down to having left behind a flock of backyard chickens!!).

We may have thought we were going down there for a sunset, but I think it was definitely a God-moment and the real purpose of our jaunt down there was for that meet-up. Thank you Lord!

#ParisShootings

Bataclan, Paris , Shooting, Terrorism

Photo Credit: CNN

I didn’t want to lead off with this, because Timo & all the good things that God is doing take priority.

Nonetheless, many of you reading this will have already heard about the shootings in Paris last night.  As I write this 129 people died in shootings at a famous nightclub, a restaurant and, incredibly the national soccer stadium where France was playing an exhibition game against Germany with the president in attendance.  As a result the city of Paris will largely be “closed for business” today: any place where crowds can gather.  It’s likely not a coincidence, but France resumed passport control at the borders yesterday in the lead-up to the global environmental conference to begin in a few weeks.

Know this: Although I’m in the Paris region for Bible School, I’m some 50km from downtown so quite sheltered. Thank you for those that have emailed, tweeted or inboxed through Facebook.

Do this:  #PrayForParis #PrayForFrance … there is perhaps no day when it is more appropriate to place a call out for prayer for this country. Once again, the nation has been hit at its heart and will be seeking solace. We know the peace-giver.

Everything that happens has SOME-thing to do with the Kingdom of God…pray that God helps us recognize and seize each opportunity in the coming days & weeks.

Pray for France

Working for Fellowship

Good news: Early this morning, we hit the road on our way to Melun for the National Youth convention. The bad news… you’ll have to wait until next weekend’s post to hear about it except for some sneak-peak snippets on Twitter:

Work and Fellowship

Église Pentecôtiste Unie, Châtellerault, UPCI, France, Church Work Day

Wanting to have a lot of last minute things tidied up and in good shape for Bro. Brochu’s arrival, the entire church congregation stayed last Sunday after church and spent the afternoon together.

We started off by having dinner (Domino’s Pizza – How French is that!?) then proceeded to work. One team tackled the inside of the building while the other went after the outside, and everyone helped; even the kids hauled branches, whipper-snipped grass, etc.

The expression “Many hands make light work” was once again proven right!  We had a pile of work to do, but were done shortly after 5pm… early!

Bonfire Ministry

I joked to someone afterward about our bonfire ministry… because this was now the 5th time since Spring that we all gathered ’round a bonfire to finish off the day… roasting marshmallows and making smores (unknown to the French).  In fact… there is some legitimacy to what I said in jest; there really is an element of ministry there, because it brings people together to relax after sharing a common accomplishment.

Not only is there an aspect of fellowship, but working together fosters a shared sense of ownership with regard to the church building & property. We had a wonderful afternoon together and accomplished a great deal!

Pastor Brochu’s arrival

Missionary, Paul Brochu, Châtellerault, France, UPCI

On Tuesday afternoon, Bro. Brochu arrived after several days of meetings in the Paris region, but even his days in Châtellerault were far from restful. There were a number of files to get caught up on, people to catch up with and he spoke in our mid-week service on Wednesday.

You know, sometimes you wonder what missionary life is like and suppose that it’s all Bible study and preaching. The reality is that there are many practical questions to manage just as there would be in a North American setting with this difference: French bureaucracy.

For example: there is some painting to be done on the front of one of our buildings but due to zoning requirements, a project plan needs to be drawn up including photos & paint samples. It must be submitted to a committee of the Architects of France who will take 2-3 months to grant permission to PAINT the front of your building. Such mundane details are also part of missionary life (I’m SO glad the Bro. Brochu is here to work through that file).

It was good for the church to hear the voice of their pastor. We’re thankful that the Lord allowed him to come back, if only for a short visit. It’s good to reconnect face-to-face.

Looking Ahead

France at a Glance, Top 15, 2015, Missionary Newsletter

One of the other things I’ve been working on this week is a 4-page PDF document entitled Top15 in 2015: highlights the top 15 moments of ministry involvement and family life during our first eleven months as AIMers in France.

It’s something that will be available later in December to those who follow the blog via email. If you’re interested in receiving it simply click on the link below & you’ll receive one when it’s launched:

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 Prayer…

This weekend, you can support us by praying for the youth convention happening today & tomorrow. There will be 5 from our church that are hungry to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost and grow in Christ.

Thanks for stopping by to visit.
God bless your day!