August 6, 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Yesterday evening about 9pm, as I was lying back in a garden chair enjoying the sunset and talking to the Lord, I realized that I had not yet written my August newsletter. So, here it is a bit late. Judy and I have been back home in France for about a month. At the beginning of July we enjoyed a wonderful week with all of our children and grandchildren. It had been 10 years since we had been together with all of our children and since then God has given us 8 more grandchildren for a total of 12.
As in the US, this is the vacation time between school years and therefore our attendance is reduced considerably. Most of the families in our congregation are originally from other areas of France and moved to this area for jobs. During vacation they often return to be near their extended families elsewhere in France. However, we have had good services and Bible studies with those who are here.
We have also had the opportunity to spend some time with some of our neighbors who need the Lord. Inviting neighbors for dinner is a great way to share Christ. We have had several good conversations during the last couple of weeks. One of our backyard neighbors informed us that the folks who had moved in across the street from them were “protestants” and so she had told them about us. We had been watching to catch them at home to invite them to services. A couple of weeks ago there was a knock on our front door and it was the sister of the new “protestant” neighbor asking about services. A couple of days later, she, her son and her brother were here for Sunday services. They indeed are believers who have moved here from an African country. Their father is a pastor. This illustrates a number of things: News spreads fast and people take note of the arrival of believers in their neighborhood. Christians are noticeable because they are a small minority. Only about 1 in every 200 people claim to be evangelical believers in France and most of these are immigrants from other countries.
Speaking of immigrants from other countries, about the time we arrived home I was contacted by Bruno, a Baptist young man from Portugal. His wife is a pediatrician and they have lived in France for a year. They live about 120 miles north of us and we are the closest Baptist church to them that he has found. Baptist believers are very scarce. Only one in every 21,667 people in France claim to be Baptist (of any kind). That is less than 0.005%. Look up the statistics for your state. So, you understand how I often realize that the picture is not so clear to many American believers when some well-meaning person in America says to me something like, “Things are about as bad spiritually here as they are in France.”
So, the couple I just mentioned are planning on driving down to be with us tomorrow. He was saved 6 years ago when he attended a baptismal service of a Baptist church in his town in northern Portugal. He was formerly a devout Catholic. So, you may be asking, “How did he find you?” This is what he wrote to me, “aujourd’hui, Dieu m’a mis dans ma tête de rechercher dans les liens de missions américaines. Dans le lien https://www.baptistfaithmissions.org/John_Mark_and_Judy_Hatcher.aspx, je vous trouvez comme missionnaire en France. Quelle merveille de Dieu! “—which translates as, “Today God gave me the idea of looking up links for American missionaries. On the site www.baptistfaithmissions.org/John_Mark_and_Judy_Hatcher.aspx I found you who are missionaries in France. What a wonderful blessing from God!”
So, take time now to thank God for the work that Sarah Wainright and others do and have done to make our news available online! This is not the first time we have been found this way. And, be careful what you post online including Facebook! The world is watching!
Thank all of you for your faithful support and prayers. May God richly bless you.
Joyfully serving in France,
John and Judy
John and Judy Hatcher
4, rue d’Aspin
31170 Tournefeuille, France