June 27, 2015
Dear Fellow Servants,
It hardly seems possible that I last wrote you just 4 weeks ago. This has been a busy and blessed month and it seems to me as if 3 months have passed since my last letter to you.
On Tuesday of this week our daughter Lydia gave birth to a beautiful daughter, our 11th grandchild. We are full and running over with God’s blessings. I will insert here a few words from Lydia written the morning following Jeanette Miriam’s birth:
Jeanette: a form of John, meaning “God is gracious”, also a bit of a family name for me. This name reminds us (and hopefully someday her) of the gracious gift of legacy she has. A legacy that includes, but extends far beyond the “Johns” in her family line. A legacy not focused on great acts performed for God, but on God’s great grace extended to those who go before her. Grace that has been extended in all seasons. We want her to know this legacy, because we want her to know this God, whose grace will carry her.
Miriam: the Hebrew form of “Mary”, mother of Jesus. A woman who surrendered herself to the will of God as his servant. Clueless, as she treasured the early events of her son’s life in her heart, what her surrender would mean. Bearing the weight of social stigma was only the beginning of the sword that would pierce her own soul as Simeon prophesied. She was called to be a refugee, to face the fear of a twelve year old runaway, to be “pushed out” of her son’s life on account of strangers, to watch her eldest child crucified surrounded by lies. May our daughter someday have the faith to declare herself fully surrendered to the will of God, even though she has no clue what His will may bring.
Judy was able to be there at the time of the birth and is staying 3 more weeks to help with the newborn and 3 other children. I am in France with the weeks scheduled tight and basking in the sunshine of God’s grace though missing Judy tremendously.
Just as Jeanette was being born, I was at funeral in a town north of us. A brother of a man I discipled for several years was killed in a paragliding accident. The Religious structure was packed with people and many were standing outside the door. There were over 300 people present in the middle of a work day. The man whose empty body lay in the casket before us was 48 years old at the time of his death and left a widow with 2 teenage sons. I grieved at the empty pagan christianity displayed in the traditional religious ceremony. I observed my friend who was with his family while not participating in the hopeless activities other than to help his mother as she got up and down to participate in various parts of the mass. I prayed that God would open the eyes of the family and draw them to Himself. I prayed that Jean-François would have the privilege of leading them to Christ.
In last month’s letter I mentioned that a lady in the assembly at Tournefeuille had given birth to a baby girl. The day after I wrote was Sunday and the child’s father insisted that they come to Sunday morning service on their way home from the hospital. This was a first for me. In over 40 years of pastoring, I do not remember anyone bringing their newborn child to church on the way home from the hospital. This father has attended regularly for several years. He asked that we sing a particular song of praise (not available in English) for this special Sunday. This young man lost one parent when he was 10 and the other when he was 13. They both claimed to be atheist. We continue to pray for him.
In the last letter, I also mentioned that we were to have a Youth meeting later in the day. A young lady was here for the first time brought by one of the kids who comes to church here. On the way home she told the mother of the youth who brought her that she felt like she was barging in because she did not believe in God. This opened the door for the mother to witness to her.
These are just a few of the incidents where we have seen God at work this month. We have had great Bible studies at all of our locations and new visitors who showed a real interest. Thank you for participating with us in what God is doing here. The dividends are out of this world!
You fellow servants in France,
John and Judy Hatcher
John and Judy Hatcher
4, rue d’Aspin
31170 Tournefeuille, France