Dear Friends and Family,
After a rather full summer, it is nice to begin to find an autumn rhythm here in Normandy. This is the start of our second school year in Caen and it feels really good to be in the same house for more than a year! (We have been rather mobile for a while now…!) In August, for the first time in his 6 year-old life, Silas celebrated his birthday in the same place as the year before! We are thankful for each part of the journey as we’ve sought to follow God’s call, to join in the work He is already doing here in France. There is much to celebrate, to report, and for your prayers, so... thanks for reading!
Church Planting in Caen
It has been one year since we started meeting in our home once a month for church in Caen. On Sunday, we met for the first time this school year and we celebrate that there were seven new people with us that we didn’t even know last year! Praise God that our house church continues to welcome new people!
We’ve seen God at work in our gatherings and in relationships over the summer. One young french man who is not yet a Christian but has started coming regularly to our meetings has been searching for something real about God for some time. He has tried out a number of other religious paths and he took Tom aside at our gathering last week for a chat. He said, “You don’t know what it is you have here. This is something completely different than I’ve ever found. The way you love each other is not normal, it can only be God’s love because people aren’t able to care for each other this way on their own” (paraphrasing). We love that he has seen God’s love in our community.
PRAYER: That our church would continue to reach out to our community and that more people would encounter the love of God in transformative ways!
What exactly do we do with SOS CHAI? We come in our retro-fitted ambulance/food truck and set out some brightly colored tables and stools along with Uno and Jenga and a few soccer balls. We serve tea and coffee and wraps with rice and some kind of meat. We hand out lots of hard boiled eggs. It is usually joyful and boisterous, though it can be tense and sometimes the boys are quite downhearted. We are convinced that the way God is building His church in Caen begins with these beautiful people on the edge of society. Here is a short video about SOS Chai posted on Facebook by one of our interns: CLICK HERE
In addition, to our home group gatherings, our work with SOS Chai continues to be central to the church planting work. Working with refugees can be difficult at times, but it is consistently humbling and rewarding. Along with our regular community of refugees, we’ve started to have a group of homeless people coming to our twice a week cafés. We’ve been praying for the trafficked women who work as prostitutes in the area where SOS Chai operates. This past week we had some of these women come to receive some help for the first time.
Equipping through the Seven Stories School
Another aspect of our work here is the training we help to lead with Gerard and Chrissie Kelly at Béthanie, the spiritual retreat center which is also the hub of the Bless Network. Later this week, we are helping to lead the Seven Stories School. This ten day course is full of teaching, worship, retreat, mission, and spending time in church and community all pointing each participant towards deeper knowledge of their God-given identity and place in His story. It has always been such a privilege to worship with these groups, and this will be our fourth school!
PRAYER: Pray for fruitful experiences for the participants and for us to manage home-life and worshipping with these groups at Bethanie.
God continues to open doors for us in the city, especially through music. Tom helped to welcome a delegation from Nashville this past month and we’ve been invited to submit an application for a grant from the US regional consulate to lead some cultural exchanges through music in the city. We have been invited to play a couple shows in November. There is also a musical association near us that is starting to host some live music nights at the town hall. We are meeting with their leadership next week. We are excited about playing music, but more excited about the relationship that we have the chance to build and the connections we are able to make in the city.
We are excited that God is answering our prayers for more teammates! There is so much possibility here in Caen, so many doors seem to be opening, and the need for Jesus is huge. We are thankful to have Troy Gebert working with us through GEM, our missions agency. Troy is courageous and hard working and we are already seeing fruit come through his efforts in his first couple of months here.
In the January, we are looking forward to welcoming Lauren, who will be with us for five months working as our nanny! She is coming through an organisation that sends people to nanny for missionary families all over the world called Mission Nannys. Please pray for her visa application process to go smoothly!
There are also some families praying about coming to serve with us on a longer term basis. Please join us in praying with them for discernment and that God would bring the right team together for the work He has prepared for us.
La Rentrée (back to school)
All four of our children are attending our local school now and their first couple of weeks have gone very well. Elodie is nothing short of heroic, marching into a foreign language environment for the first time on her third birthday! The boys are adjusting well to being in the same school now and are glad to be able to play together during recess. We’ve also started some associations this year which are a good way to connect to the community and get to know our neighbors. Sy is playing tennis, Reuben is going to try badminton, Eli is continuing his good work at the physical therapist, and Elodie is starting “baby gym”. Joanna will be continuing with her painting association and Tom has started at a badminton club.
The Most Contemplative of Seasons…
It is a huge blessing to begin to feel settled. Beginning the year in the same school, seeing some familiar faces and friends, deepening relationships with neighbors, and growing opportunities in the city…!!!!
Even in the transition and relative chaos, it has been amazing to see God moving, drawing people to Himself; into freedom and deep love. Now we are sensing the opportunity for even more fruitfulness here in France.
Thank you for being here with us, for your ongoing love, prayer and support. We could not do this important work without you and we are so grateful!
Tom, Joanna, Reuben, Eli, Silas, and Elodie