Hello family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ,
I pray that you are all well. On Wednesday I will be finishing up my placement here in Saint-Raphael and will be heading back up to northern France where I will be beginning my placement in Paris on Saturday, July 30, and I will be finishing up my stay here in France there. I will be working with Parker Windle, a Southern Baptist missionary in Paris, and I will be taking the train to spend three days with Michael and Jo Jo Harrington, who are Southern Baptist missionaries in Brive-la-Gaillarde, located in central France.
Life seems to have gotten back to normal for the majority of the people living here in France, even though the terrorist attack was just nine days ago. Yesterday I drove to Nice and found the people to be just as I had seen them about a month ago when I had visited the last time. I decided to go back to Nice to get a feeling of the city a week after the attack. Most of all, however, I wanted to drive down the Promenade des Anglais. I ended up being on the Promenade des Anglais during rush hour, so traffic was very hectic, but I had a peace in my soul as I played a worship CD by Third Day and prayed for the families and friends of the victims of the terrorist attack, for those still in the hospital, for the police and other first call responders at the scene, and finally, for anyone affected by this horrible act. I asked God to use this situation to bring people to Jesus and I asked that he render justice on all the terrorists.
Something very special happened this week, as my close French friend Patricia gave birth to a baby boy on Tuesday afternoon, July 19, at 2:44PM French time. He weighs 3.7 kilograms, which is a little over 8 pounds. She and her husband Philippe have named the baby Thibault. Although mother and baby are both doing well, there were a few complications with the birth, so my friend is still in the hospital. Please pray for Patricia to heal quickly. The pictures she sent of little Thibault turned out really well and I am really looking forward to meeting him after getting to Paris. She lives in the well-known suburb of Versailles.
It was a real pleasure to have dinner with a special family this past week. The father is Protestant and the mother is Catholic. Their grown daughter seems angry with God and the family friend that was present doesn’t talk too much about faith. He seems to prefer politics. I am grateful, however, that I was able to get into a good spiritual discussion with this family. I am relieved that I was able to clear up a mix-up between the mother and father concerning Mary, the mother of Jesus, and what it is exactly that we should believe about her virginity. The father felt that she wasn’t a virgin when Jesus was born and the mother believed she was a virgin her whole life. When asked what I believed, I got out the book of Matthew and turned to chapter 1 and read them verses 18-24, where the angel appears to Joseph in a dream. I explained that we (evangelicals) believe that Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus but that she did not stay a virgin after Jesus was born, and I simply said that we believed it because the Bible said it. This seemed to alleviate years of tension and problems between the two of them. This may seem trivial, but I can tell you that the Truth found in Matthew chapter 1 could save a lot of people an awful lot of hassle. It is a very debated topic between Protestants and Catholics here in France. I answered their question but I turned the discussion back to Jesus, our Messiah, Savior and Lord, who people seem to forget in the midst of their arguments. He is the focus of everything in the Bible and our personal relationship is with Him. I am happy to say that the couple accepted a Bible and made a commitment to read it together.
I was also blessed to get to into discussions with several members of the choir this past week. We had rehearsal on Monday evening and Thursday evening, followed by a concert on Thursday evening. It was good to be able to have spiritual discussions on different levels with several people after choir practice, before the concert, and after the concert. These choir relationships are growing and I am so grateful for that. There is a lady in the choir that I went out with for Italian ice cream (yum!) who is very open spiritually. She has an abusive background from her childhood. Her father was a violent man. Given that I had really only started to get to know her this summer, I was surprised that she had opened up so quickly. I am grateful for it, though, because I can continue to help her as I keep in touch with her after leaving France.
Gaston and Mauricette’s granddaughter Laeticia, her boyfriend Fred, and their daughter Laurelie, have been here this week visiting from near Bordeaux. It has been a pleasure to meet them and I have enjoyed spending time with them. Mauricette has told me that they are atheists and closed to any spiritual talk, which I noticed, as any time a spiritual opening comes up, they squelch it and don’t wish to discuss it. Very sad. Laeticia’s sister, Alexendra, who I have already talked about, is very much the same way. She was here for a few days earlier this month. Alexandra did have her baby this week. She had a little girl on Tuesday. Please pray that Gaston and Mauricette’s family will come to know Jesus. That is their greatest desire.
I will close for now and I hope to write once more before leaving Saint-Raphael. It will be difficult to say goodbye to everyone. May God bless you all.