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:

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 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!

Week 39 and #UPCIGC15

Did you know that we’re starting week #39 of 2015?
Week 38 was pretty cool, if I do say so myself…

Ziplining & Bonfire

Aven'Thuré, Acrobranche, Ziplining, Thuré, Châtellerault, Église Pentecôtiste Unie, United Pentecostal ChurchLast Sunday after service, we embarked on a much anticipated afternoon!  We’d planned a youth outing which included 4 hours of ziplining, followed by a bonfire back at the church for roasting marshmallows and hot-dogs (generally uncommon for most European kids).

It was a bit of a task because I was the only participating adult that day… so it involved balancing the younger ones’ need to remain on easier courses and the older ones’ longing for death-defying heights!  We struck a good balance. There were 9 kids in total which was awesome!  First time we’ve had that many since the Spring.

Between the “Tip-toeing through the tree-tops” and “fire-side fun”, it was a great bonding time for this group of kids.

Mid-week Prayer

#UPCIGC15, Châtellerault, EPU, UPC, United Pentecostal Church, General Conference, Nashville TN, PrayerOur midweek service is typically a Bible Study format. This week, however, we did something a little different:

We’d been looking at prayer for the past couple of weeks, so we took a time and focused on prayer. Each one present wrote down a couple of key prayer requests, sealed them in an envelope and we’ll open them up in several months to give God glory for answering specifically.

Each one prayed on their own for 30min or so, then we came together to pray corporately. We prayed for the requests that had just been made and then capped off our time by praying around a map of the US (where we’ve been tracing the Brochu’s deputation travels). Specifically… we focused on Nashville, TN where Thursday night was the Global Missions service, the outcome of which would impact the Brochus return.

#IAmGlobal

#UPCIGC, #UPCIGC15, France, #IAmGlobal, Paul Brochu, John Nowacki, Missionary, UPCI Global MissionsThat Thursday night service was incredible. I caught the livestream which, with a 7hr time difference, meant that church for me began at 1:30am and went until after 4:00am (four late nights all in all and coffee has been my friend!).

Back to Thursday… I could listen to Bro. Mooney preach for hours! Pictured from the livestream are France’s two currently-deputizing missionary families, the Brochus and the Nowackis, on the platform. Results of the incredible #IAmGlobal offering are as follows:

  • $3,2 million dollars pledged
  • 22 missionaries return to the field
    (including the Brochus & Nowackis)
  • Combined 7 years of deputation travel eliminated.

We serve a great God and are part of a great body of believers!
I’m THANKFUL for the family of God.

Impact for us?

The next logical question is:
“What does an earlier return for the Brochus mean
for the length of OUR time in France?”

The short answer:  it’s a bit soon to tell yet, but we do know this:

  • Generally speaking, we feel like we’re just getting settled in!
  • We’d mentally prepared for 2 years and don’t foresee a return before then.
  • Interrupting the kids’ school year is not ideal so any return would likely happen outside of the kids regular school year.
  • There’s still lots of work to do in France… So for now, keep giving and keep praying.

Fall Garden

IMG_3855

In other news… I planted lettuce in the garden this week (surely different from back home). I turned over a small plot in the backyard so it’d be better ready for next Spring and when my neighbour noticed it, he asked if I’d like some lettuce: He was thinning out his and assured me that we could easily have another month or two of growing season. Very excited to see what comes of it.

Aside from our itsy-bitsy plot… our neighbours – on either side – have blessed us several times (including again this week) with overflow from their gardens: a couple baskets of tomatoes, apples, parsley, basil, zucchini, rosemary, cherries, and lots of tips. I love having such good relationships with our neighbours… they’re a little bit like family really.

À bientôt…

That’s it for today. Whether you’re reading this from home over coffee or in a plane somewhere on your way home from General Conference… thank you for checking in again this week. Let what you read inform your prayers for France and for us!

More than words…

G’morning from France. I usually try to write posts a day or two ahead of time and then schedule them for publishing on Saturday… but today as I begin to write you, it’s also Saturday (about 3:30am in the Atlantic time zone, 7:30 here in France). Dominic & I came to Pat-à-Pain, our favourite neighbourhood wifi spot, where we’re having pain au chocolate, café crème and an OJ. He’s “Clash-of-Clan-ing” and we’ll hang for a while after I’m done.

Send-off for the Brochus

Paul Brochu, France, Châtellerault, sendoff

Last Sunday we held a sendoff service for the Brochus. He preached on the need for a move of the Spirit of God, like a river of living water, in order for us to bring life to those around us. That is the message that he wanted to leave with the church as he & Sis. Brochu prepared to leave for their deputation.

They leave this morning for one week of regional meetings in Israel. Next Sunday they will have their final service in Paris-Centre and return to Châtellerault for 2 days before flying back to the USA.

These are extremely busy times for them and we can totally relate as it was only two months ago that we were doing many of the same things.

Ron Bohde, anointing oil, Châtellerault

After the message and time at the altar we had several a farewell presentations in their honour. The Sunday School kids did a poem and a skit depicting the hectic life of a busy pastor & missionary. Pictured above is Sis. Christelle reading two poems that she wrote in honor of of Bro. & Sis. Brochu.

Liz & I presented the Brochus with a gift for the church… a turned-wood anointing oil flask, hand crafted by Rev. Ron Bohde, Pastor of Bethel UPC (Hillsboro, Oregon).  We’d purchased it at general conference in St. Louis, back in the fall, but held onto it, waiting for just the right occasion.

During the dinner afterwards the kids got a chance to just hang out with the other kids and bond.

I must say… this service was somewhat emotional for me, which took me by surprise. I was more emotional than I was during our installation service. I think it’s the realization that the weight of pastoring will now fall primarily on our shoulders whereas before “the leader” was always there and I functioned much as I always had… as a “second man”.  This service went a step further to underscoring the change.

Family Time

Oyré, France, Église Saint-Sulpice, St. SulpiceFollowing that service we took a drive to the village of Oyré, about 7km away. It’s a village of only about 1,000 people, but at the center is the Saint-Sulpice Church, which dates from the 12th Century.  How amazing is that?!  This building is roughly 850 years old.

Here you can also see the family gathered at… you guessed it: Pat-à-pain for treats and wifi time.  Before leaving, friends sent us off with 200 euros in hand… we’ve chosen to use it for these weekly family wifi-treat nights. It has allowed us to get out of the house a bit and allowed the kids to connect with friends via chat / FaceTime.

Brothers & Sister

Kids, Coca-Cola, Kraft Dinner

At that same Pat-à-Pain visit, we came away with three Coca-Cola cans with frère, frère & soeur written on them (brother, brother & sister). We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a photo of the kids with it…

(the clown-face pics were just them cutting up at another time… but seemed appropriate).

Below is something that all Canadian children will immediately recognize… Kraft Dinner (I think it’s known in the USA as “Mac & Cheese”).  In any case… you can’t get it here in France. Liz brought a number of boxes that we ration. It’s only the second time we’ve had it since arriving.

Misc. Notes

  • I spent some time this week working on a church website. It will be similar to this site in that it will be a WordPress site, but will be a more simple in layout. Watch for it in the next few weeks.
  • I also spent some time doing landscaping yardwork at the church, trimming & pruning mainly. It hadn’t been done for a couple of years.  The French are quite particular about the maintenance of shrubs & hedges… so it’s one way to present the church well to the community.
  • We’ve also spent time with the Brochus going through their house in preparation for our move there this Thursday.
  • The closing date for the sale on our house in Saint John is also this Thursday. Please pray that everything goes well there.  It will be nice to have that off our minds. We thank God for what we consider a miracle: The deal was struck the day of our departure and, given the real estate market there and the fact that it’s a winter sale…. it’s a miracle that it sold that fast.
  • This past Thursday, I got to meet our closest neighbouring pastor, Bro. Chartier, who is roughly a 2hr drive from here, in Bourges. The work is similar in size to Châtellerault but they don’t yet have their own building. He came to pick up a baptistry that was being stored here as he has 5 people wanting to be baptized. Thank you Lord!

Final thought

The Lord challenged me this week while reading 1 Corinthians 4. Paul said he would come and would be able to judge the quality of their relationship with God… not by the words they spoke, but by the power exhibited in their life for, “the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (v.20).

The challenge to me: words are very easy to produce (this blog is the proof), but the power of God, manifested in the life of a Christian is not something I can “produce” apart from a close walk with Him. Lord… guide my steps so that I’m not limited to just words.

God bless you today & Thank you for checking in!
….let this post inform your prayers for us & for France.

I’m Nostalgic

I’ve been working on project for the past week or so and it has gotten me looking back through old photo albums on my laptop… yes. photo albums…. on my laptop.

(Note: I am the guy who originally resisted digital photography, scoffing at those who stored all photos on their computer, rather than in a handy-dandy “hard copy” photo album… Now, I have joined your ranks… with nearly 20K pics on my hard drive… end of admission)

First Family-Visit

ChateauMotte06The first time that we visited Châtellerault as a family was in 2006. I had been there previously by myself and then with a friend, but in 2006… we went together.

Timo was not quite a year old and still had be propped up with pillows or be sandwiched between his siblings in order to ensure a steady pose for the camera.  We stayed in the 15th Century Château de la Motte Usseau for a couple of nights and enjoyed the comfort of the Ysabeau de Poitiers Suite… where   we could have our own lovely room and the kids had their own spot right through the large arched doorway.

If you’ve never done a chateau-stay before, you need to give it a go!  Seriously… you’ll pay 130 euros/night in the equivalent of a “shoe-box” in Paris… or, for less than that, you get a 15th century castle in the country with incredible hosts and a breakfast fit for a king (or at least a count)!

ChateauChenonceau06

During that trip, Bro. & Sis. Brochu also took us to visit the Château de Chenonceau which is reputed to have the 2nd or 3rd highest number of visitors of any monument in France, only behind the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame cathedral… both in Paris. This Castle, one-time home to Catherine de Medicis and her rival Diane de Poitiers, gracefully spans the Cher river.

 

Church

We visited church the Sunday morning of our visit and at that point it was still meeting in the home of Sis. Cécile Leday on ave. Aristide Briand, right downtown and not far from the monument to the French Revolution. Twenty or so very basic chairs were set up in the Living Room and a simple wooden cross adorned the wall above the unused fireplace. A music stand served as the pulpit and the only instrument was a keyboard in the corner. There was nothing all that fancy about it, but we felt the presence of the Lord… we were worshiping God, in French, in the heart of western France.

French Provincial Countryside

ChateauMotte_landscape06

For those of you who are wondering what the area will be like… take a look at the picture to the right. This photo is taken from atop the Château de la Motte, looking out over the rich agricultural land that surrounds Châtellerault.

You can barely make it out, but behind what looks to be a hedgerow in the middle of the picture, is the A10 highway that leads from the North down to the South-west of France… present, but barely visible.

This is the area that will be home for us beginning in the new year… and we can’t wait!

Although it looks pretty deserted in this picture, remember that the city of Châtellerault itself is a city of roughly 27,000 people and that, within a 25km radius there are some 94 villages… all of which house souls, some of which are hungry and/or hurting… not completely satisfied with where they are spiritually.

It is for them that we are leaving home & homeland.
Please pray for us… for them.
Pray for #Revival_inFrance.

Thanks for stopping by today… I appreciate your visit!

 

News from “our Missionaries”

Today we want to serve up to you some news directly from Pastor & Mrs. Paul & Darla Brochu.

Why do I refer to them as “our Missionaries” in the title of this post? Many of you know the Brochus already, but for the benefit of any who may not, these are the missionaries whose shoes we will be trying to fill during their deputation travels in the United States. We have had the privilege of working with them in the past, enjoy an important friendship and look forward to carrying forward their vision during the time of our stay in Châtellerault, beginning in late-January.

 Focus on France is the title of their Partners in Missions newsletter.
You can also connect with them via their Focus on France FaceBook Page.

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Focus on France, UPCI Global Missionaries, Paul & Darla Brochu

Greetings, Partners and Friends !

As it pertains to the work of God, great, great things are happening in France and throughout Europe! What a privilege it is to be about God’s business in these last days. The darker the obscurity of this world, the brighter the Light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Regional Evangelist George Craft, UPCISince hosting a group of young intercessors from Mission Point Church of Saint John, NB last summer, prayer walks and prayer drives have continued each week in and around Châtellerault with amazing results. We’ve had trained Apostolic help move in from other parts of France. We’ve had an increase in church attendance. We’ve made new contacts and have had several new Home Bible Studies. God is impacting these new attendees, and the local church has also been impacted in a very positive way. Please keep the work in Châtellerault in your prayers. Planting this church in the West of provincial France has been no small challenge!

Institut Biblique de France, epufrance.orgThe international work known as the “UPC of Paris Centre” is thriving, with 7 water baptisms since our last newsletter, and new ones receiving the Holy Ghost regularly. Our numbers there are also up with an average attendance of close to 70 people in our worship services. Currently limited to meeting just a few hours together on Sundays, we’re seeking a bigger place to rent that we can have throughout the week. Will you help us pray?

Thank you for the role you play in making all of this possible.
God bless you richly for your faithful support and prayers!

Euro Youth Convention, Melun, Chadwick King.

For more information on “our missionaries” you can click here.
Want to support “our missionaries” ? Click the “Support Us” link on this page.

Paris in July

More than just Paris

Unless you’re in our local church, you probably don’t know that in addition to preparing to move to France in January, we’re also leading a team of young people to France, in July, for a 10-day missions trip. Although I’ve entitled today’s post “Paris in July” it’s really Châtellerault and Paris in July… with a few more awesome stops along the way.

#MPTeamFrance

14_04_26 FX1 picWe’ll be known as #MPTeamFrance
(where MP = Mission Point, our home church)

Strange name?

Perhaps… but it’s “hashtag-able” and isn’t it all about hashtags nowadays?  After all the twitter invention is now key to huge social media players like Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and even Facebook, which integrated them in June 2013 since users were using them anyway.

Hashtags are powerful because they allow users to follow public conversations outside of their own network of friends. Whichever of the above-mentioned platforms you use, come July there will likely be a steady flow of the #MPTeamFrance hashtag as team-members share their experiences and photos with family & friends back home.

The team is made up of 12 people from Mission Point and a lone courageous member from Capital Community Church in Fredericton (three were absent when the photo above was taken).

Preparation

Because we will be involved in ministry on various levels this summer, it was important to plan some prep-times… when we could focus on:

  • 14_04_26 FX1bsharing information on travel arrangements, timetable & activities
  • planning roles, responsibilities & involvement
  • gaining interaction experience… a.k.a. team-building (just because we all attend the same church, we don’t take for granted that we automatically know how to work together).
  • praying together
  • Preparing testimonies & music, to be shared in service settings

We call these prep-times FX-Nights.
(France X-travaganza).

Last night was our second one and among other things,we had to breathe life into those that were still hyperventilating from FX#1, when we told the team that they could only bring a carry-on sized suitcase each as well as a personal item (Stopping to think though… it can’t be about how much an individual is able to carry… but how much we can fit into the cars once in France, and 26 pieces is already a lot!). So one of the things we did last night was show them just how much you can put in a small suitcase, when done efficiently.

The Plan

One of the main ways that we expect to be able to lend support to the Châtellerault church, once on site, is by helping prepare for and distribute several thousand invitations to a gospel music concert that they are currently organizing.  This will be the first time that outreach on this scale will be attempted in Châtellerault and we expect it to accomplish the following:

  • Build awareness of the church among thousands of local and regional residents
  • Provide an opportunity for those same residents to experience anointed worship in a Holy Ghost-filled atmosphere
  • Build a foundation for contact with those in attendance
  • Obtain Home Bible Study opportunities with hungry individuals that would desire.

Overall… our goal is to put the local church in touch with a much larger number of contacts than  would normally be possible, from which they may obtain followup opportunities for later in the summer / year.

Who knows… when Liz & I get onsite in January, we may get to be involved with someone whose first contact with the church was during this summer’s outreach!

If that’s the case, it may be part of God establishing the “Crown” around Châtellerault, like he said he would.

We will also spend a bit of time in the Paris region, with the church in Melun, but plans are still being formulated for that leg of the journey…. more to follow!

Exposure

One of the other great things about this summer’s trip is that it gives more people from home a first-hand experience with the field in which we’ll be working.

  • When they pray for us… they’ll do so with personal experience.
  • When victories are won spiritually…. they can know that they were part of it.
  • When others wonder about us, the work, the field… they can help educate others.

More to come

You’ll likely hear more about this trip as we get closer, and certainly when we’re there, but for now know that it’s one more way that the Lord is working out his calling in our life. I’m so jazzed for the team that we have preparing to go… Great things are in store #MPTeamFrance.

As always… thanks for stopping by!

What about you?

  • Do you think YOU could do 10-days abroad with only a carry-on sized suitcase?
  • Have you done it already?
  • Tell me about it in the comments section below.  (Your comments could encourage & inspire the team… of course your horror stories would be fun to read too.)