February 5, 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We hope this finds you well. Your faithful support reflects your faith in God whose grace is evident every day. In a couple of days we will be blessed with the arrival of Darrell and Shirley Messer. Since we are having unusually cold weather they will have a bit of adjustment to make. They are stopping by here on their return from the tropical climate of Kenya where they have been visiting the Tates and Radfords, our fellow missionaries. Modern travel is certainly easier than the way Paul and his companions traveled.
A few hours of travel can land you in a place that is very different from your place of departure. However, this past month shows us that a few hours can bring many surprises even if you are not traveling. The 7th of January was my birthday, just two days after I last wrote you. Little did I know as I was typing the letter to you how outstanding my birthday would be this year. On that day I received a notice from the Prefecture that I had been granted a 10 years resident card. It has been 10 years since we first applied for this card for which we then, in theory, were qualified. The granting of this status now means that we can avoid several days of navigating the administrative corridors each year. We hope to get Judy’s card later this year. Yes, it is a separate process.
The other event, more shocking, on my recent birthday, was the breaking news of the mass murders that took place in Paris. This became the subject of many conversations and has opened doors for sharing the gospel. Society here is very fractured and those in leadership scramble to find solutions. The attempted solutions, however, have led to more deeply embedded divisions. The need of the gospel and its application to the everyday lives of believers becomes more evident against the backdrop of animosity resulting from sinful behavior and rejection of the true God Who is love.
This is underscored by research done recently here that shows that 80% of French young men who have joined the jihad movement and become warriors (There have been a surprising number of these and it is often on the news.) are from mainline atheist families. It would seem that these young men are seeking a reason to live and in so doing are caught up in radical movements which claim to be doing God’s will.
Last week, just before our Bible study in Mazere started we heard about an incident that illustrates the hatred of human behavior. A young man about 12 years old who comes to this meeting had been threatened with death by a schoolmate because he represents “the other side”. His mother was quite worried about the safety of her son. Last night, I heard a wonderful ending to this story. In this Bible study we are studying the Sermon on the Mount. The command to “love your enemies” was imprinted on this young man’s heart and without saying anything to anyone he went back to school and told his “enemy” that he loved him. They have become friends though they live in different “camps”. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we, God’s children, really applied this principle daily?
Well, this is a glimpse of what has been happening here. Thank you for faithful support that enables us to announce the Good News from our wonderful Creator and Savior.
In France in Christ,
John and Judy
4, rue d’Aspin
31170 Tournefeuille, France