C'est La Rentrée

Our first real ‘Rentrée’

We just returned to Paris after three months back in the U.S. and a few days after getting back our son (E), 3 years old, started his first year of French public school. A few hours into the first day my friend (K) called to ask how I was doing. She told me this.

“In France, ‘La Rentrée’ (translated as re-entry in the beginning of September) is more important than January 1st. ‘La Rentrée’ is actually the new year. All the kids return to school or daycare, and most of the adults return to work after having had a full month of vacation in August. December 31st we may have a party, but ‘La Rentrée’ is the most busy and important fresh start to the year.”

And she is right, it feels like a new year for us as E is in school now and the new ministry year begins. We have reconnected with our teammates after the summer apart and we are ready to jump back into our relationships, bible studies, service projects and more.

So as we jump back in, would you spend a few minutes to pray for our larger World Team France team?

  • Pray for the 10 different churches, church plants, and projects that are in process
  • Pray for our 18 kids who have returned to or started school for the first time, plus 1 who is in college in the U.S. this year.
  • Pray for our friends and the many people we will serve this year, for the Spirit’s leading in their lives and ours and for the softening of many hearts towards Christ.

Merci!

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Marblehead Harbor

Home Assignment 2018 : Nearing the halfway mark

Every two years, we have the task and privilege to return to the U.S. for a couple months to reconnect with ministry partners, families and friends. So that’s what we are doing this summer, plus we need to raise up new ministry partners. We will share more about this need of raising up new partners in some future posts, but for now we just want to share what we’ve been up to in the last month and a half.

We spent 3 awesome weeks in Boston and Marblehead, Massachusetts areas where we were so encouraged by our home church and many dear friends. The first 5 years (of almost 11 so far) of our marriage were spent there and we have many fond memories of the area and that time in our lives. We were very encouraged by the love we were shown, and how good it was to see so many dear friends. We ate really well! We had fun boating, meeting people, having play dates with other families, and seeing most of our friends and ministry partners there, including 3 supporting churches.

Next, we passed through Pennsylvania and visited two dear families for a couple day stopover. The Shorb family (friends and former teammates in France) hosted a house party and introduced us to their families and friends and invited us to share about our work in Paris. It was a privilege to be invited into a sample of their web of connections and some new relationships and ministry partnerships were formed.

Then we made it to Ohio where most of our family lives, and have been reconnecting with them including a mini vacation with Ryan’s family after the 4th of July. E (our 2 yr old son) is having an wonderful time. He has been pretty spoiled with his own room most of the time, abundant toys and green space everywhere we go. He loves visiting with everyone, especially other kids and animals. 

That’s a glimpse into our Home Assignment so far. In the next series, we will start giving you a broader glimpse into our ministry and some practical ways you can get involved if that’s how the Lord leads you.

4th of July

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woman begging in Paris

On the street in Paris

If you have ever visited or lived in Paris, then you probably noticed people begging all over the city. There are people in need asking for small change or a “ticket de resto” (a meal ticket) at every busy intersection, in front of your favorite bakery, and on the metro (the subway) as you travel around the city. It can feel overwhelming and disheartening because of the sheer scale of how many people seem to be on the streets and in need.

City-wide homeless census

Recently, Paris carried out a census in which over 1,700 parisiens volunteered their time to walk the streets of Paris between 10pm-2am to count people sleeping rough on the streets. They counted almost 3,000 individuals but acknowledged it is probably an underestimate because there were some areas they didn’t get to, and whenever they saw a tent, they counted that as 1 (not wanting to disturb the potential whole families sleeping inside). And what makes the situation more challenging is that the problem (according to local charities and the government) is getting worse. There are more and more people and whole families being forced into poverty and homelessness either through difficult economic realities or due to mass population migrations. Paris also receives an average of 40 new people every single day and unfortunately not all of them will find employment and housing.

Sorry, this sounds very bleak doesn’t it. That wasn’t exactly my intention, but it is the reality of the current situation. I hope to talk more about this issue in the future, but my hope for today’s post is just to share a bit about what its’ like, about the recent census, and also to share a bit of my heart change towards people on the street.

Small gestures really do make a difference

For the first couple years here, I never gave homeless people anything (I made occasional exceptions for the musicians on the metro, if they were good). But I was afraid that if I started to give, either I would be enabling someone to make poor choices or what’s worse, enabling a mafia type situation that exploits and enslaves people (which is a real concern). Truthfully, I was also afraid to become soft, that if I gave, I would somehow become out of control and lose all common sense (I thought the only way to survive city living was to become a bit hardened otherwise I’d be taken advantage of). I was so afraid of these things, I did nothing.

But doing nothing really didn’t sit well with me. I desperately wanted to do something to help, but didn’t know how or what. So I found an association in Paris (Agape Street) that I volunteered with for a year. Every week, we gathered to assemble the food and hygiene supplies, then in small teams we went out and spent time with our neighbors who sleep on the street. We tried to go to the same places so we could develop relationships with people. I enjoyed it so much that this year, I started doing the same thing in our neighborhood. The biggest encouragement has been the realization that even though I probably can’t solve the bigger problem of getting 3,000 people off the street, I can do a little good right in my community. Within a 10-minute walk from my apartment, there are between 8-14 people usually and we actually can provide them with a humble dinner, a coffee, and a conversation. It’s not everything, and I still have A LOT to learn about how else we can help, but it feels good to do something.

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C'est La Rentrée

New Prayer Book

For quite some time Ryan has said he wanted to write more, and maybe someday even to write books, you know maybe later in life when he has more wisdom and more experience. But recently he decided that it was kind of silly to wait, and that, even though it’s probably true that when he’s older he may have more wisdom and experience, it’s not like he has no wisdom and experience now. And more time is not really a guarantee anyway, is it?

So this prayer book was born, How to Talk to God: Developing a Meaningful Practice of Prayerand it is very Ryan. What I mean by that is that it’s very deep and spot on in its wisdom, but it also comes across very clear and practical in its story and advice. That’s how Ryan is. He is brilliant (although he won’t admit it), but he has a way of communicating complex ideas very simply and sometimes with perfect analogies. He often helps me understand things on a whole different level than I thought about them before. And what matches Ryan’s intelligence is his discipline. Those of us who know him well, know how disciplined he is. Sometimes I admire his discipline like crazy, and sometimes it drives me crazy, if I’m being honest, because I do not have the same gift. Even if I said we were eating healthy from now on, we’re still ordering pizza tonight (it’s pizza night after all), and I’m even lactose intolerant. But not Ryan, if he values something highly, he sticks with it and spends a lot of time pursuing it.

And prayer, being in dialog with the God and King of the universe, is one of his top priorities. It’s not the longest book, it is a solid six chapters, but it’s all good stuff. So if you’re interested, check it out (in kindle or print edition) on Amazon here. The more ratings and reviews it gets, hopefully even more people will read it, so if you do happen to read it and like it, please comment on it too. Thanks!

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Tour de FranceVIE 2017

This is an exciting week around here. There is a group of 15 students from Cedarville University participating in our Tour de FranceVIE in which they bike to each World Team France ministry and project and pray and serve as they go. Pray for them, cheer them on, and learn a little more about the trip here.

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Day of Prayer today

World Team France is having a 24 hr day of prayer today. Also I wanted to connect our readers here to World Team France’s English news blog. Here we tend to focus on our personal work, lives and ministry, there you will find a broader look at the many churches and other projects World Team is currently engaged with in France. So hop over there to see a simple list of the different projects and join us in praying today! Thanks!

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Bonne Année 2017

Happy New Year! A lot has happened since our last post, but instead of giving you the full Fall Recap, I will just write about what’s exciting us right now. Currently, our church is 6 adults and 4 children. We meet regularly for prayer, just to hangout, and to celebrate who God is and what he is doing in our lives. It is amazing to be a part of a true Christian community, who loves God and is learning to love one another. We are also practicing regularly serving and meeting one another’s needs. We are eager to figure out how we can serve God by loving our neighborhood and our city and we are ready to try out a few things this year. And we have developed dozens of new relationships in the last few months!

We’re beginning to realize and experience that although we live in a big city, we are also community members of a pretty tight village (or “quartier” in French) and a lot of our new friends have lived here most or all of their lives. Some close to our age had left but are now returning to raise their kids here. We still, at times, feel like outsiders, but we are working hard to weave ourselves into the local fabric and are humbled by what a privilege it is to be here. With so much darkness in the world, we desire to bring God’s goodness and love to bear here in our corner of the city.

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Summer Wrap-up

Our time on Home Assignment in America is over and we have returned to France. So how was it, the summer that is? Like most things in life, it was kind of a mixed bag, because we had so many joys and good times but also a lot of fatigue and stress when it didn’t seem like our financial needs could be met. But overall there were many more joys than stresses for which we are thankful.

Seeing family was wonderful and having it be a bit more laid back and not rushed was truly a gift. E got to meet so many family members he didn’t know he had, and do so many fun things with his grandparents. We even squeezed in a week of vacation in Tennessee with my (Erin’s) family. We will cherish the memories of these times until we’re together in person again, but we are so thankful for technology; which allows us to keep in touch regularly even from a distance.

We spent quality one-on-one time with over a hundred individuals and families, which we enjoyed so much because we got to better know what’s been going on in their lives. We saw many of our good friends, although one of the bittersweet elements was that some we didn’t get to see and some we could only see once or twice because of all the other things we needed to do. But we reflected on how unique it is that we can do this, not many people, as part of their jobs I might add, get to take a couple of months every few years to travel around and see people they know and care about. So even if it will never be perfect we are really thankful for this privilege.

We also visited 12 churches and several small groups and bible studies. It was a joy to be with all these different church families and worship in English! While visiting our home church in Massachusetts we dedicated E to the Lord, a simple act that acknowledges our hope and faith that he will make a personal decision to love the Lord too one day. It is incredible to have so many brothers and sisters in Christ who walk alongside us in our lives and work. Thank you to every person who has blessed us or invested in us in some way this summer and the last several years. We simply cherish your friendship, your partnership and your ceaseless prayers on our behalf.

And now, we’re back in Paris, “La Rentrée” or the start of the school & business year has begun and our church plant is truly getting started. We’re pumped and ready to go!!

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Home is where your heart is

So we are back in the U.S. for three months on our first “Home Assignment.” It used to be called “Furlough” which means rest, but the name has been changed because most workers run around constantly while on home assignment and don’t find much rest until they return to their host countries (France for us).

We’ve been back 3 weeks already and it’s been mixed for us. We have had really busy days and slow days. But on the slow days it is true that it’s hard to rest because we have so many people we want to see and so much support we need to raise this summer, that even when we don’t have anything scheduled, it feels like we should keep working to schedule something. I don’t think this is good, so we are praying and striving to find a better balance.

Upon arrival, it did feel a bit strange to be back. The way we’ve learned to greet and spend time with people in France is a little different than here. Everything seems bigger and more spread out as well. But after settling in, the old comforts of America begin to feel comfortable again. Seeing family has been the sweetest highlight so far, for them to get to hold and love on our son means the world to us and them. To visit ministry partners (both churches and individuals) and friends is such an encouragement that has boosted our spirits.

Overall, we’ve settled in and are excited for our summer back “home”. Many people have asked if it’s good to be home. And it really is. But also, we’ve realized that now we have more than one home, which can feel either or both bitter and sweet depending on the day.

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Paris Internship Recap

Last week our team in Paris hosted an internship for some German bible school students. We have participated in internships before and were excited to do so again. This time was a little different in that we were their main hosts and our project was their main focus. They got a glimpse of one other project south of Paris but every other day we got to be together for trainings, meals, prayer & devotions, and outreach. They got to experience “simple church” with us one Sunday morning (what it looks like when you’re just a handful of people in someone’s living room). And they got to meet many other teammates from the larger team in France at an informal “Apéro”, getting a bigger picture of the different ministries and projects.

We wanted them to really experience ministry in our part of the city. So each afternoon we sent them out.

  • One day, they used their maps to explore the area praying as they went.
  • The next afternoon, they had some $$ and were told to be creative, go and bless people with it. This project was a challenge as they saw how suspicious people are of accepting anything from a stranger, even if it’s a good thing.
  • The other two days together we went out, gathering information through doing surveys and passing out invitations to an event on Friday night called “Apéro Théo.” It was the first time we hosted such an event and we learned some valuable lessons (which we suspected), people in Paris are not likely to come to an event (especially a religious one) if they don’t know someone who’s there. But it really was a good experience for all of us, getting a more accurate reading on the spiritual pulse (of lack there of) in our neighborhood. And we all gained more confidence in approaching and talking to people.

We are so thankful to have had the chance to spend a week with these students. They were a great team and it was a real privilege to invest in one another’s lives and love the people of Paris together.

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