Friday, April 29, 2005
What do you think? Three bedrooms, detached, corner plot.
Big rooms (16'x12' lounge and main bedroom, all bedrooms 12' long)
Downstairs toilet, downstairs study (converted garage), additional garage.
Just below the national average house price (which is about £180,000, I think)
We were pretty sad putting it on the market. It's a nice house and we've been really happy here.
But please still pray for a good quick sale!
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Excited? I should say!
(By the way, it has crossed my mind that they might have room for a couple of sofas on the "Ville de Bordeaux" en route from Deeside to Bordeaux...)
Friday, April 22, 2005
It is not easy for us today to grasp the sheer scale of what was achieved in such a short time in the 1550s and 60s. Here is another article that records God's breathtaking blessing on the brave, visionary and sacrificial Geneva mission to France.
You can read the whole thing at:
Missionaries sent into France
It is widely believed that the Reformers of the sixteenth century were not involved in missionary activity. That is simply not the case. John Calvin was involved in the work of sending missionaries to Brazil. Doors into Brazil did not open at that time and those involved in the attempt lost their lives. However the mission field is not only lands far off. Indeed France constituted a mission field.
Unlike present day France, which is almost entirely secular in outlook, the France of the 16th century was religious but dominated by the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. Persecution by the priests against evangelicals was fierce. It could cost your life to actively propagate the evangelical faith. However within the Roman Church a very considerable Bible movement had taken place through the secret reading of books by Luther as well as through the teaching of a well-known Catholic, Lefèvre d'Etaples. A great spiritual harvest was there to be reaped.
From 1555 to 1562 we know for sure that 88 preachers were sent from Geneva into France. Of these, nine laid down their lives as martyrs. There may have been more than 88. Historical research is hampered by the fact that everything in that period was done in a secretive way for security reasons. Also we must account for many short term missions into France. Those who were ordained and sent out as church planters were exceptionally gifted men. Some of them were from aristocratic families and most were from a well-educated upper middle class background in France. Very few were from artisan origin and none from a peasant background. With the exception of Pierre Viret who was Swiss, (he became the pastor of the largest church of 8,000 communicants at Nîmes), these church planting missionaries originated from almost every province of France. This fact helps explain how it was that almost all regions of France were permeated with the gospel.
Of these missionaries those who were not already accredited pastors were obliged to conform to rigorous standards set up by Calvin. The moral life of the candidate, his theological integrity and his preaching ability were subject to careful examination. With regard to moral discipline a system was established by which the pastors were responsible to each other. There was an exacting code listing offences that were not to be tolerated in a minister. Offences in money, dishonesty or sexual misconduct meant instant dismissal.
All Calvin's students had to be fully proficient in Latin, Hebrew and Greek, in order to be thoroughly proficient in line by line exegesis of the Scriptures.
They were required to be trained in Church History and Systematic Theology. Character training was paramount. These pastors had to face the reality of martyrdom. Only when Calvin judged a man to possess the necessary fibre and stamina would he be sent into France to preach and plant churches. Each church began by a group gathering in a home, and then out of that a fully disciplined church would be constituted. Such was termed 'a dressed church'.
In 1555 there was only one 'dressed church'. Seven years later, in 1562, there were 2150 such churches! This represents growth of extraordinary proportions. Eventually there were over two million Protestant church members out of a French population of twenty million. This multiplication came in spite of fierce persecution. For instance in 1572, 70,000 Protestants lost their lives. The church order used was Presbyterian. There were 29 national synods from about 1562 to 1685 when persecution forced most of the believers to leave France.
The real character of John Calvin is revealed in his letter-writing which was very extensive and pastoral in character. Besides personal letters he also wrote to the French churches as a whole. For instance in November 1559 he wrote: 'Persecutions are the real battles of Christians, to test the constancy and firmness of their faith; we should hold in high esteem the blood of the martyrs shed for a testimony to the truth.'
From the example provided above we need above all to recapture the biblical idea that a missionary is a male preacher/pastor who engages in church planting. There are many ancillary services and many ancillary agencies but without the application in practice of preaching and pastoring in the work of church planting the prospect of Christianity in any unevangelised land will be bleak.
In the 16th century, largely through the missionary vision of John Calvin more churches were established in France in a very few years than exist today. This in a much smaller population and with none of the benefits of modern communications and travel. Here is an extract from an article speaking about this...
In 1555 the first Huguenot congregation to have a permanent minister was established in Paris. By 1558, this congregation was worshipping in the open guarded by armed sympathisers.
In 1559, the first synod (national council) was held in Paris. 72 local congregations were represented by the elders from each congregation. In some regions of France travelling ministers had to be used but this was never a major problem as the organisation of the church was so tight. Many Huguenot communities were near each other so communication was never really a problem. Educated merchants were drawn to Calvinism. This occurred probably as a result of the impact of the Renaissance and as a reaction to the rigidity of the catholic Church.
A number of noble families converted to Calvinism though there is not one common link to explain their conversion. Each family had its own individual reason. Ironically one of these reasons may have been patriotic. Catholicism was linked to Rome and since the Concordat of Bologna, the French had always linked their religion to national causes. By associating yourself with Calvinism, you would be expressing your belief that France should have no links to Italy.
The Huguenots were concentrated on the coast mainly in the west (La Rochelle) and in the south-east. They develop their own cavalry force and openly worshipped in their own churches. The sheer size of France aided them in the respect that the royal government in Paris found it difficult enough to assert its authority generally. The strict organisation of the Huguenots made any attempt by the authorities to crush them very difficult. Added to this was the simple fact that la Rochelle was a long way from Paris.By 1561, there were 2150 Huguenot churches in France and Calvinists were estimated to be about 10% of the population - about 1 million people. It has to be remembered that the first Calvinist ministers only got to France in 1553. Calvinism within France became a large minority religion.
(Alan's note... Others put the estimate of the number of protestant Christians at more like 40, 50 or even 60%. More was achieved by the waves of workers trained and sent out from Geneva than ever since!)
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Maybe this will open up further appointments to present the needs and opportunities to churches.
Please pray for this. The work in France needs lots of workers - fellow-workers in France and fellow-workers in prayer and in finance here, too.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Now comes our first tussle with French bureaucracy. Will we be able to register it and insure it in Bordeaux ready to collect (from Basingstoke.....) next Friday?
This is the car, by the way. http://www.lhdplace.com/Scripts/8755.htm
I must be mad!
Last night we held a Special Church Meeting to decide whether to invite Martin Downes (currently UCCFW team leader) to become our pastor from this September.
We voted to do this.
And Martin accepted.
So bit by bit things are being put in place...
Of course Martin will be our pastor, too, and we are looking forward to having him visit us in Bordeaux! But we have to get there first.
Monday, April 11, 2005
The day started at 4h00 to get to Manchester for the 6h45 flight. We arrived at Bordeaux ten minutes early somehow, think the pilot must have put his foot down. Carol was there to meet me, and took me to her house for a reviving cuppa and breakfast, then she whisked me off on a tour of Bordeaux. My head was spinning, but it was good to get a sort of general idea of the scope of the city.
The whole of it including the suburbs is spread over quite a large area, but the centre itself is not too bad. After lunch we went to look at some estate agents to get a rough idea of what was available, although we have been looking on the internet too. It varies just like here really, it depends where you want to live as to how much you can afford. Then we had an early night because believe it or not, we had to get up at 5h30 (which of course was 3h30 in old British money)
We were off to meet Carol Foucachon, the minister's wife, who tried to arrange for me to meet the headmistress of the school her daughter attends. She had to leave the house at 7h10, not sure if this is the case each day, because this day we were following the chap who had made the arrangement for me., and he was going a different way. Whatever, we were up bright eyed and bushy tailed.
The Foucachons live over the river so we had to go over to meet Carol F, and then come back over again to go to the school. Carol F's daughter Christine used to go to a local school within walking distance from their house, but there was bullying, because she comes from a Christian family, and also although she is fluent in French, she is 1/2 American. So one of the things we want to avoid is putting more pressure on the children than is necessary. The headmistress seemed really helpful, and Carol had to translate for me , but she was very concerned to make sure the children would be happy. It seems a lovely school, bright and cheerful. The children in the playground all seemed happy, and Christine loves it too. When the headmistress realised G & C didn't speak French, she immediately found two children she knew could speak English. I also met the two English teachers, one of whom IS English, and explained we were coming over, and they were just great. It wasn't "what we can do for your children" but "what your children can do for us, in helping us to teach the English class". So when I came out I had enrolled the children in the school, having only expected to see it. I was so grateful, God had gone before me and prepared the way!
The school is fee-paying according to how much you earn, but it isn't that expensive, and it is within the same area we will be attending for language school, so we can all travel in together. The two are happy to learn that they only have to go 4 days a week with Wed. off as well as the weekend, and two hours for lunch with no school uniform.
I had a look at the centre that Carol uses for the student work and sat in on some Bible studies there. The church Carol L attends is in Floirac, over the river, and as far as we know we will attend there too, as we have met the wife(Carol F) and minister. He has a lot of work to do, and other men in the church are all very busy.
I'm really glad I went as it makes me feel more aware of the issues and work that is needed in Bordeaux. It was good to see it all with my own eyes. I had a great time, and enjoyed it . Very glad to get back and see the family of course, and to be able to give Gwilym and Catrin some positive feedback too.
So that's my report! God is very faithful, and the great thing is that we don't have to worry about the school issue now.
All the best to you,
lots of love
Sunday, April 10, 2005
I ought to have taken a picture of the stand - we had two UFM panels, one France panel and one PNG panel, and pretty splendid everything looked, too. We had a brief moment of panic when Paul and I realised that to me "we have a power point" meant we would have an electric socket in the corner, and to him it meant we would have a laptop showing a PowerPoint presentation. (I blame Bill Gates myself...) Bernard saved the day by putting his laptop on the stand.
Judging by people's responses, there is a lot of interest in mission in France and in PNG. It was good to talk with the people from Belgian Evangelical mission, from European Missionary Fellowship and from the Christian Institute (all near neighbours) as well as lots of others.
We got to all the "early morning" sessions with Alistair Begg and to one seminar. I went to the first evening meeting, but after that decided to watch them at home with Pat and kids (and fell asleep every time. Typical!) Kids had a grand time in the children's meetings and using the site facilities.
It would be interesting to know whether the conversations and leaflets result in any contact with the office and any long-term relationship with the mission.
Paul and Rachel are, like us, in the throes of raising their support. They are going for a four-year term as house-parents to a missionary kids hostel in Papua New Guinea. They need to raise £24000 and they hope to go in June. Pray for us all!