Welcome to part two of our Appel summer update! In yesterday’s update, we largely focused on family and local updates, and prayer needs. If you missed it, and would like to read, click here. This update will bring you news of all the things God has been up to through our ministry life in and around Caen with the Bless Network. Thanks for reading!
Women’s Retreat Day
At the end of May, we had a women’s retreat day at Bethanie. It was a lovely time of worship, prayer and teaching. A young woman who has been coming along to serve at SOS Chai (Bless’ refugee ministry) since November, became a Christian during one of the prayer times! We are so excited that she is a part of our church in Caen! She is already bringing other people along to our gatherings! Amazing!
Down at L’Orangerie de Beauregard, the campsite near Tour that is a part of our greater Bless Network, we hosted a four day festival, lovingly called ‘Blesstival’. This is a gathering of everyone in our network across Europe for worship, teaching, and fellowship. Tom and I were responsible for leading the worship (Bi-lingually!) for the festival, we helped host a 24-hour prayer room on the site and facilitated many of the events. Our kids were very involved in the program as well by dancing, drumming, and doing the words on the computer. Joanna also was able to paint as part of one of the worship sessions, (painting in pictures above)! In all, it was a fruitful time where relationships were strengthened, people received prayer and healing, we were envisioned for the future, and celebrated what God is already doing through our community in Bless. Plus, the bonus of a pool. ;)
It was a huge blessing to welcome a team from our home church in Nashville, The Gate Community Church. This team came and led what they call a Freedom Immersion day in which they taught and modeled ways of actively standing in prayer for the freedom we have in Christ. This teaching was well received among the group of French believers who came, many of whom are new in their journey of faith. The Nashville team also helped us with SOS Chai and supported Joanna and I in our work with the twinning association. Most of all, the team was a source of refreshment for us and our church.
Blankets for SOS Chai
While the team from Nashville was here, we had a quick visit from some other friends in the UK who are part of our UK church - Christ Church Chorleywood - and who help to lead an organization dedicated to helping refugees. A team of three stopped by for one of our community group BBQs and brought a huge van load of quality blankets for us to distribute to the refugees! We have given out almost all of them in the past weeks and the lads are very grateful!
Music in Caen
After praying for years that God would open up opportunities for us to share about His love through the arts and music, we had the chance to play two ‘soirées musicales’ (nights of live music) in Caen in the space of a week! This was through the relationship that has been growing with the Caen-Nashville twinning association. Our friends Ryan and Karen Hall were in town with the Nashville team and along with our friends and teammates Dan and Kate Soar, we played one open air show in front of Keys & Co. and then a show in a bar in the center of town a week later. It was an amazing privilege to sings songs about freedom and God’s love over our city. We had a lot of fun with this and it seems that it might be the beginning of something for us here in Caen.
Upcoming Visits and Trips
We have already had a few short term teams come through this summer from Canada, Nashville and the UK, but next week we welcome a large group (above 40!) of Californians to Bethanie for a week of worship, service and teaching, along with a BBQ at our house, which is becoming a bit of a tradition ;) The next week we travel as a family to GEM’s Annual Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. There we will celebrate 70 years of God at work through GEM in Europe and have a chance to worship and fellowship with other missionaries in our organization. When we return, we (Tom and Joanna) will be going on a week of retreat and the kids will be at our home in the care of some very great friends who are fellow GEM missionaries. This sums up our big events for the summer, but we are hoping to have a family “Stay-cation” and explore Normandy as a family in August before school begins again in September.
Caen Nashville Twinning
The nights of music in June were a success and we would like to develop further the musical connections with Nashville and Caen through the relationships we have made. Please pray for continued favor and God-inspired strategy for this partnership.
House of Songs Rental Location
In our update in May, we talked about a rental location for a prayer room in Caen. We have submitted the application but the owner is on the fence about renting or selling and we have seen no movement on this for two months now. Please pray for breakthrough on this location or for another location to open up in Caen.
New Believers and New Connections
Praise Jesus we are seeing new believers join our community! We are also meeting more people interested in coming along to our house group and church meetings. Please pray for these relationships to flourish and strengthen in the coming months.
One thing that is a constant prayer of ours is for more workers for the harvest. We have so much opportunity to serve here but only a few of us able to take part. We are grateful and excited to be welcoming two new interns to work with us this fall, but Dan and Kate Soar, who have hosted at Bethanie the past year, are moving on and returning to the UK. Their departure in September leaves a massive hole on our team. Please pray for the right people to come and join our team in God’s timing and for patience and wisdom for us while we wait for them.
Travel Safety and Stamina
We are excited to have this full summer in our home for the first time, without a lot of travel, but we still have some! Please pray for safety, health and protection as we travel to Germany and as we are away from the kids for a week in August. PLUS rest for the whole family as we all recover from a difficult winter season.
You’ve made it to the end of this two part update. Something we reflected on in our time with our friends from Nashville is the difficulty of expressing difficulty in our update emails. What I mean is that while we feel so very well supported and able to be transparent with you, sometimes our hope or trust that God is winning the battles can make it seem like we are walking on sunshine, that everything is going amazingly well here. The reality is that there is rarely a week that goes by when we aren’t struggling. We are seeing God at work and we are so thankful to be joining in this work. But, we are also wounded. This is why Joanna and I are getting away next month - we need some time for God to work deeply in the places we are injured. We write this, not to be a downer at the end of our update, but because we’re understanding more deeply our need for life together with you. Thank you for praying with us and please do let us know how we can pray with you too.
Tom and Joanna, Reuben, Eli, Silas, and Elodie