Greetings from Paris to all our brothers and sisters in Christ. We hope this letter finds you well in His Grace. Here follows our report for the last month. It was a time dedicated to the privilege of training our candidates for elders.
After a refreshing period of vacation with family in August, our family faced quite a demanding return to our activities. After preaching on the last Sunday of August and on the first Sunday of September, I embarked for the United States for a twenty-day trip with two of our candidates for elders—Nathanaël and Loïc. It was a delightful experience of intensive training. After nearly two years of training them to become lay elders, I was extremely happy that they could have this cultural and theological experience. They were able to personally meet the mentors who have been caring and blessing us so much. We also met some of the authors that we have been reading—people that we appreciate so much for their persevering fidelity in their ministries.
French and American culture can be opposite in many ways, but I was sure that our elder candidates would see the beauty of Christian fellowship in a foreign land. French believers are unfamiliar with a culture where churches have historically prospered. In fact, they have rarely seen protestant church buildings or churches with more than 30 or 40 members. I was certain that they would grow in their confidence by visiting healthy churches that were prospering in the gospel.
Our first stop was in Radford Virginia where the HeartCry office and Christ Church are located. We spent five days with Paul Washer and the rest of the coordinators. It was a joy to spend the entire day under the teaching of God’s word, to to ask questions about all areas of life and ministry and prayer. We were all struck by the hospitality and the full attention that our work received. The encouragement was immeasurable because they considered our small work in Paris to be extremely important. It just felt like God Himself was showing His special care for our work. Above all, our greatest joy there was to see how brother Paul’s health had improved.
After our time at HeartCry, we attended the 9Marks Intensive Weekender in Washington DC. It was a 10-day training on ecclesiology through immersion in the life of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, pastored by Mark Dever. They have a collection of high-recommended books on the essential biblical principles for the life of a healthy church. More important, they have a vibrant church living up to those principles that can be observed in a very intentional and practical way. In the first part of the conference, we received lectures, discussed our readings, and observed the elders, the members, and the church meetings. We often reflected together in small groups about what we were learning and how to bring those biblical principles to our own contexts. Close to the second weekend about 170 other leaders came to join the intensive group for the continuation of the training. It proved to be as profitable as the first week, especially for Loïc’s and Nath. Again, we all felt privileged to observe the church’s life and sit under the teachings from some of the authors that we had been reading in our elders’ meetings in Paris. It was an unforgettable and extremely profitable time for us. For three weeks, we spent quality time with brothers that care and inspire us so much and we learned a lot. We carried this encouragement back with us to Paris.
When we returned home, we received a visit from another great brother from Zamibia—Conrad Mbewe. He came to preach in our annual conference. I will share more about this in our next report.
It is the seasons of blessing that always cause me to recall one of my earnests prayers from the very beginning of my Christian life and calling—That I never loose the sensibility to acknowledge God’s investments in my life and that the fear of the Lord will always grow more in my heart. The more blessing that I receive, the more I want to honor the Lord with faithful serving. That is my present desire. As the psalmist declared, “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people” (Psalm 116: 12).
It is always a joy to have your fellowship, not only when we are facing challenges, but also when we are celebrating the victories from promoting the gospel in France.
David, Mayra, Beatriz and Catarina