If you’d told me two weeks ago that I’d be spending time in Canada this month, I’d have laughed a hearty chuckle… yet… here I am. Continue reading
For the first time in over a year our family of 5 is split between two sides of the ocean and it feels weird… Continue reading
General Charles deGaulle had a real dilemma about leading France in the 1950’s. He mused about how it be possible to govern a country with 246 varieties of cheese. If that’s the extent of his challenges… his was a good time in which to lead! Challenges are to be expected in the pursuit of any great and worthy goal… and what a goal is ours!
Sometimes ministry happens in national meetings, other times it happens with 24 young people in a converted car dealership and other times still, it happens with a single elderly saint in her apartment. Today I’ll tell you about all three.
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…
#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.
Even 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.
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”
Given 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.
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?
5 ways that each of us can be like the Eiffel Tower
by clicking here!
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!
Tomorrow 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”
Thank you for visiting today… let what you read inform your prayers for us and for France.
God bless you today!
As many of you were reading the post last week, we were headed about an hour and a half south to our second wedding since arriving in France.
Sylvain and I met during the 2001-2002 school year when I was teaching French at the University of New Brunswick and he spent a year there as an exchange student from France and was my Teaching Assistant. Our friendship remained and shortly after our arrival in January, we received their wedding invitation in the mail.
We arrived the day before and Sylvain and I went zip-lining with several of his friends (what a blast!) while Liz & the kids stayed back at his parents’ house where the kids made good use of the pool!
Following the civil ceremony, we spent 2.5 hours on a river boat, cruising the Charente River; catching up with a few folks we knew and getting to know others as well. The meal went until about midnight but we didn’t get home until after 3:00am due to torrential rains. There was time for a “night-nap” before getting up for church.
The photo above Sylvain & Camille shows the kids (along with their Travel Buddies) at the ruins of a Gallo-Roman Arena in Sylvain’s hometown of Saintes. In Roman times the city was known as Mediolanum Santonum and it was then, during the 1st century, that they built the arena, the ruins of which are visible behind the kids. Pretty neat to think that it was being built as the New Testament was being written!
Almost immediately following Sunday morning service, Andy (our Bible School student) and I drove Miranda to the airport where she caught a plane home the following morning.
We’re thankful for a young person willing and able to spend a couple of weeks familiarizing themselves with and contributing to the work of God here in France!
After dropping Miranda at the airport hotel, we headed to Melun (an hour away) for an intensive week of Bible School where classes began at 7:30am and we typically left the building around 9:00 pm.
I taught for 2 hours each day on the Epistles but was also involved in grading students’ oral theses (they pick from over 100 questions out of a hat and must teach a short Bible Study on it. Very impressive).
On Tuesday, classes had to be cut short due to a funeral for a young person from the Melun church who died unexpectedly, making it a tough day overall. That evening was the normal midweek service in which 3 of the IBF students brought short messages to the congregation.
You can also see the IBF instructors for the week including fellow AIMers and fellow New Brunswickers, Rev. Kevin & Crystal Wallace who are furlough replacements for Bro. & Sis. Nowacki. I’m very much enjoying the chance to work with and get to know this couple. Their ministry to the church in Melun, following the unexpected death of that young person, has been “hand in glove”… The Lord always knows!
Coffee & “Crash”
Last night was a “drive home & crash in bed by 9:30pm” kind of night. Very glad for a low-key Saturday morning with coffee brewing.
As you drink your coffee and read about our goings on, thank you for letting what you read, inform your prayers. Through Christ we can do all things but without him we can do nothing (Philippians. 4.13 & John 15.5).
God bless you today as you go about your day!
As I mentioned Saturday, this past weekend was our 7th in a row to be on the road…. and it was a special one!
In a couple of ways it just felt so right to be at Capital Community Church (CCC) this past weekend.
The guests for their weekend Missions Conference were ourselves and Bro. & Sis. Bruce Howell (Gen. Director of Global Missions UPCI), but because of flight delays, the Howells weren’t able to get in until late Saturday night, missing the first service. In his stead, CCC Lead Pastor Raymond Woodward spoke.
The reason it felt so great was this: when I first came into Pentecost in the mid 1990’s, Bro. Woodward was in the Saint John church and music was led by Jack & Kathy Leaman… so everything just felt so familiar!
The services were great on Sunday! In the morning, Bro. Howell preached on the protection that can be found in the walls of salvation… and in the evening, on the fact that Christians should always be Ready to Rejoice! One of the neat surprises though was that the choir went from singing in English to French (without warning)… How cool to hear that! It caught me by surprise, so I didn’t catch all of it, but here’s what I did get.
CCC members gave liberally this weekend and their generous offering put us up to 65% of our required budget.
But over and above that offering, they also showed some love to our kids in a special way as well. Saturday night the kids went forward and church members put a total of $329 in their hands… so just under $110 for each of the kids.
Can’t thank you enough CCC for all the support you have shown us!
To finish off today’s post I’m going to be a bit transparent. I’d ask for and extra covering of your prayers over the coming weeks. There is so much that needs to happen and only so many hours in a day. Feelings of being overwhelmed are never far off as there is a keen awareness of the pressure to:
- sell the house & correct a few things in preparation for that
- prepare to transition my church and District responsibilities, including the publication of the monthly district magazine.
- continue sorting / packing / purging
- maintain responsibilities in our local church where I’m employed full time
- prepare paperwork & immigration formalities
- complete fundraising our budget
…all while we continue to travel each weekend for the remainder of November
(We intentionally have no services/travel booked for December).
Do we know that we are in the will of God? …yes
Do we know that he’ll take care of the details? …yes
But in the meantime it’s still a great deal to juggle in the day to day… we need his strength more than ever, not just to get it all done, but to maintain our joy in the process.
the Bottom Line
God is getting ready to do some incredible things and we’re so privileged to be part of it. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Thanks for following us and for praying so faithfully!
This weekend is our 7th in a row to be out on the open road… and there are a few more to go! We’re racking up kilometers on our 2007 Ford Freestyle and changing the oil more frequently, but there are a number of benefits that outweigh any cost.
Benefits?! …to deputation?!
Up until 2012, I’m not sure I’d heard anyone talk overly positively about deputation. At the worst it was somewhat of a “necessary evil” and, at best, “something to be put up with ’til you get to the land of your calling.” But today I’m going to give you 5 benefits that I’ve experienced.
Although pastors frequently see each other at conferences, the contact is often “in passing.” Less frequent are the opportunities to sit across the table from each other, as families, often in the home.
Also, not having grown up in this fellowship, I had never been in many of our churches, nor did I personally know many of the saints as is the case when you spend the majority of your life in a given group.
Deputation throughout the Atlantic District, and elsewhere, has given us opportunities to connect with fellow ministers and their families… and we’re LOVING it!
Part of getting to know the churches is discovering that things or methods that I might have taken for granted in my church may be entirely different elsewhere, attributable to:
- urban vs. rural cultures/priorities
- the age, size or stage of growth of the church
- the number of pastors in the history of the church
- the calling or priorities of particular pastors
I realize the extent to which I’ve been blessed and, as the old Scott Wesley Brown song goes… “We are blessed to be a blessing.”
3. Family Time
This may seem counter-intuitive… Family time? While we do spend much time with others, we have to GET to where the others are, so we’re spending a fair bit of time together in the car, in the hotel rooms and sometimes stopping for “mini-adventures” along the way. Like when our annual Gagetown apple-picking outing happened on the way back from Upper Kent & Ste-Anne-de-Madawaska.
4. Memory Lane Moments
As a kid, I often went on drives with my grandfather. A plastic-wrapped roll of peppermints was on the dash of the 1978 Chevy Suburban and we’d find a country road to follow. Sometimes he’d be headed rabbit or partridge hunting and sometimes it’d just be for the drive… but he always had his eyes open for bottles or cans that could be traded in at the local bottle exchange (that’s how he paid for my first 5-speed bike).
Heading down some of these country roads (in particular the top one on the right, with it’s patchy, uneven pavement – between Stanley & Juniper), affords me time to sift through some of those memories, and smile at the simplicity of great moments spent together.
5. Support & Supporter Raising
Of course the main purpose of deputation remains the fundraising aspect. Obviously it’s beneficial, indeed necessary to do this, but even in churches that are unable to give financially at a given time… we have the opportunity to raise supporters (see Wednesday’s post).
We’re thrilled to take part in Missions Conference at Capital Community Church in Fredericton, NB with Rev. Raymond Woodward and Rev. Jack Leaman. These men were leaders in the Saint John church when we came into Pentecost in the mid 1990’s and both have been important influences in our life and growth. We’re honoured to be with them and with Rev. Bruce Howell, General Director of Global Missions for the UPCI.
Our house will be going up for sale Monday. We decided to sell in order to:
a) …have one less major asset to manage during our time overseas.
b) …be able to give a portion in the #IAmGlobal offering.
The market is not great but we believe that we heard from God concerning the sale and we trust him completely. Why not pray for two buyers that bid against one another, upping the price rather than it being bartered down!
Thanks for reading me again today.
Let what you read inform your prayers.
Fredericton… We’ll see you tonight!
We spent another weekend on the road here in New Brunswick, our home province, but this time in the northwest corner…
Saturday was an awesome day! A good friend and favourite “auntie” that we’d not seen in quite some time, visited us for coffee & conversation. After which, we officiated at the wedding of a great couple that we’ve known for a couple of years, thanks to an ongoing community outreach. Then, at around 9:00pm we set out for a 3hr drive to northwestern New Brunswick.
The Upper Kent Church is located just off Route 105 and up the road a bit from Florenceville, NB (home of McCain foods and French Fry capital of the world!). In the nearly 60 years that this church has been established, there have only been three pastors, preceding Rev. & Mrs Kent MacKay, the current pastor. This makes for a very stable and well established congregation. They are an incredible missions-giving church and have come alongside us in our AIM appointment to France.
Thank you, Pastor & Sis. MacKay, for believing in us and the calling God has placed on our family. You’ll be part of revival in France!
Roughly 100km up the Saint John River Valley from Upper Kent is another church to which we’d never been, but with which we’ve been familiar for some time: Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska. Two of their “native sons” have attended our home church for several years.
This church is predominantly French-speaking, although there are some English-speakers in the mix as well. Rev. Keith Carter has been leading the church for the past couple of years but will be relocating in October, leaving the church looking for a new pastor.
This church already supports the three missionaries to France with whom we’ll be working: John & Anne Nowacki, Paul & Darla Brochu and Marcus & Renée Brainos. They have taken us on as partners as well.
Un Grand Merci… to Bro. & Sis. Carter as well as to the great church family in Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska! You folks are precious and we are so glad to finally have gotten to visit your church! Vous êtes partenaires pour le réveil que Dieu amènera en France!!
Cue-up my “Inner Call Center”
I’d appreciate your prayers as I spend time this week touching base, by phone, with pastors from around North America, asking for their support. I can’t wait. Really looking forward to it!
We only need another forty-eight, $50/month partners.
Keep pouring on prayer… God has a great work that He’s fixin to accomplish!
Thank you for your support!
Neat things have happened since I last updated you on fundraising specifics… so today’s post will address some of those things.
#1: half-way there!!!
We are THRILLED to tell you that with only 4 months left, we have topped the 50% commitment level.
One-time donations total $24,450.00 (40% of the total commitment). Most of these have already been received however a portion of that total is based on a commitment to give.
Monthly Partner Commitments:
Monthly commitments total $36,000.00 (the equivalent of thirty $50/month partners). This total assumes two things:
a) that confirmed donors maintain their giving for the full 2-years that we expect to be in France and
b) that those who have given us a verbal commitment, though the paperwork has not yet been received, will proceed with the giving.
Given that we only announced our appointment in January and began fundraising in March, we are thrilled that, in just over 6 months, God has opened up this level of support through you… his partners in missions. Thank you!
#2: Every little bit counts
Earlier this week I spoke at Northeast Christian College, in Fredericton NB and presented our burden for France. At the end of our time together, Rev. Mel Calhoun asked the students if anyone wanted to contribute to our support as a one-time donation. The students responded:
There was one donation of $100, one of $50 and one of $40. The rest were commitments of $5, $10, $15 and $20, yet when all was said and done, these students had committed $780.
Thank you @NCC4Ministry!
#3: Baggage bigger than Carry-On
What!? That exists?
In 17 years of married life (with the exception of Liz’s move to Canada from Belgium) we have never traveled with anything but carry-on sized luggage. Consequently, we didn’t own large suitcases. THAT would have to change in preparation for France… and it has; we got six brand new huge suitcases. The price should’ve been $700, but we got them virtually for free!!
How’d we do it?
- We began sorting stuff that has accumulated in 17 years of married life and we prepared to sell anything that had value.
- Yard Sale: $400
- Kijiji (Canadian equivalent of Craigslist): $300
- Bargain Hunting: My wife had been keeping her eye on some suitcases at a local store. She waited until she they came out with a “buy 1, get one 1/2-price” sale… so the total came to $590, but the sale of our stuff paid for it, so the suitcases really cost us nothing out of pocket.
The bad news… more expenses are coming.
The good news… we still have lots more stuff to sell!
#4: Inspired Reading
In discussion with Bro. Poitras this past weekend at our missions conference, he mentioned the book “The God Ask: A fresh biblical approach to fund raising” by Steve Shadrach. It discusses the process of raising funds for either a missions trip of some kind or a church or para-church ministry or organization. I’m currently only about 30% through it… but it’s a wonderful read and if you’re considering any kind of short-term missions involvement for which you need to raise your own support… I highly recommend this book!!
$19.99 on Amazon or $9.99 for the ebook*
(prices are from Amazon.ca and could vary slightly in the USA)
#5: Postcard Results
Just an update to say that we have already seen results from our postcard mailout back in August. Although I plan, in the next two weeks, to touching base with many of these pastors by telephone, one pastor in Georgia didn’t wait to hear from me by phone, but sent us both a one-time offering as well as a monthly partner commitment. God is blessing us beyond measure through ordinary people and pastors just like you! Thank you for your support!
That’s pretty much it for this morning folks. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel to Upper Kent and St. Anne-de-Madawaska this weekend, both in north-western New Brunswick, to present our burden for and call to France. Two great churches which we’ve never been to before.
God bless you today!