New Alliance

A New Alliance

This time last year, on the eve of our wedding anniversary, I was in a wheelchair in Portree hospital on the Isle of Skye. My body had been broken by a three metre fall and the doctor was cutting off my wedding ring from my hideously dislocated finger…This year, I was in Cardiff Bay, receiving a repaired ring from my beloved Sylviane. I placed my own ring – made from Central African gold, onto her finger. After a ringless year, I was happy to celebrate thirty-five years of faithfulness.

This personal story may well be a parable for our last year. Decades of Christian ministry have brought their lot of brokenness. Yet, as the Bible teaches us in the Gospel story, for every shattered pot there is a fresh release of perfume.

“I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Mark 14:9

The fragrance of Christ continues to waft waves of grace into our lives and ministry.

After thirty years of intense mission building, we were led to learn the humble trade of pastoring a local church. We put in seven years of whole-hearted service, hidden in the joy and pain of the extraordinarily ordinary, loving young and old and training new leaders for the future.

During this time, a conviction came upon us – born out of the intercession of our seven years, to create a church planting movement for our nation, France. “Oxygène” emerged.

In spite of a troubled start, we successfully passed on the day to day leadership of the Wavrin church. We still serve through a partnership with Oxygène, and we regularly attend, preach, mentor and lead worship with our new music group which is also called Oxygène. Sylviane is presently putting her creative and organisational talents together by organising our Christmas special for the 15th December.

Oxygène is growing. We are presently mentoring three couples who are playing leading pastoral roles in new pioneer church plants. In South West France, Besançon, we had the privilege of washing up and serving cake and coffee in a Christian coffee shop called “Chez ma Cousine.”

Forty years ago, I spent a year in the Breton town of Paimpol. I didn’t know the Lord then, and I always regretted having left so little a mark from my time there. God is redeeming that regret, as a friend of mine has moved near to Paimpol and is pioneering a church. Two years ago, he asked us to help him and his family. It coincided with my eldest son being led to manage a Christian centre only an hour away in St Lunaire – “Le Centre des Jeunes.”  This is a new season and many hungry, Breton hearts are seeking meaning in Christ. We are spending a week here just before Christmas.

The prophet Isaiah talks about “sons hastening back.”

Your sons hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you. Lift up your eyes and look around; all your sons gather and come to you.” Isaiah 49:17

This has become a reality for us as one of our spiritual “sons” – a young man, who I helped lead to the Lord and baptise with his brother many years ago, has literally come and moved next door to us in Thumeries. His brother has also recently moved here from London. For many years, my friends at the Chateau Blanc and the Henin Beaumont church – which we faithfully attended for over twenty years, have nursed a prayer for a local church in Thumeries. This is now happening and every Sunday there are small meetings in homes and once a month in the “Chateau Paradis.” We add our encouragement and preaching to this endeavour at least once a month. I love going to church at my next door neighbour’s house!

We continue to develop our “Groupes Contact” – once a month, convivial “new expressions” of church for seeking friends in the towns of Carnin, Ronchin and Wavrin. New folks are coming to these and beginning to discover a relationship with Jesus. We are looking to open two new groups with our other neighbour in Thumeries and another with a long term friend, in Wahagnies.

I’ve learnt to love “local” over these last years, but the Lord has had mercy on the embers of my international dreams. He has wonderfully resurrected a vital mentoring link with a young peoples’ mission movement in Ethiopia. I get to teach there about once a year and always return rejuvenated by rubbing shoulders with youthful missionary revival.

I also value the oversight and friendly accountability we get from our long standing allies in Wales – the Nations mission movement. I’ve just returned from sharing at their retreat and it was exciting to “retell the story together,” celebrate all that has been so faithfully accomplished and make practical moves for new, creative beginnings.

A trio of partnerships with our ever faithful Korean/American friends keep me on the go as well. The Château Blanc, in Thumeries, hosts the “Wave” mission. It is always a joy to teach on this training programme in January and the Summer as well as provide ongoing encouragement to the budding missionary teams.

Frontline Nations, is another movement. I enjoy teaching their young, boisterous teams and am looking forward to joining them in Bucharest at the end of January.

The mission, ABLE, are also valued friends and partners. We recently networked in Switzerland together and are looking to future possibilities in 2020, helping to build leaders and inspire economic growth in some of the poorest places on the planet.

As you can guess, this “new alliance” and mentoring mission with Oxygène keeps us busy. We mostly need your prayer support for ourselves and those movements mentioned, as the spiritual warfare in some of these pioneer places is quite strong.

The adventure and freedom of living the traditional missionary life of faith continues to be a privilege for us.

As this is the festive season, when the Word wed flesh, let us take the opportunity of wishing you a very blessed Christmas.

A week after our own “new alliance,” we had wonderful news from our daughter. She had just become engaged to a wonderful Christian guy. They are both successful in professional careers but also serving Jesus with all their hearts together. They are involved in this wonderful missional family called Urban Crofters. The ring goes on…

New Alliance 2

 

 

 

Check out my latest book “Steps of Experience.”

Links for those who want to support our ministry:

For GB residents – Stewardship

Wider Support Link – Oxygène

Oxygène

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Pray for the development of this French Mission Movement which partners with He-Sed.

Oxygène

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