September 9, 2001
First report from the 2001 YWAM Family DTS in Paisley, Scotland.
…no, you’ve not gotten the wrong newsletter. Yes, this is the Leigh Family Update…but…about the only thing that our activities are focused on these days are the Family DTS.
It’s been a while since we’ve last written one of these and much has transpired., but virtually all of it has had to do with preparations for the Family DTS. About the only deviation and diversion in the last 2 months or so, has been the 2 week visit of my (David’s) parents. This was SO valuable to have them come and see what we’re about here. Hopefully, for those of you who have direct contact with them, it will be helpful for you to talk with them and gain some understanding of our focus here.
In talking with my mother, she was able to help me see that our activities here may be anything but obvious to all of you on the other end! So, with her as my inspiration, I’ll try and cover some more of that each month so that, hopefully you all will feel more of a partnership with us.
This month’s installment…”What is a Family DTS anyway?!”
Well, first of all, one must back up a bit. Angela and I are part of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) as two of about 12,000 full-time missions workers world-wide. YWAM has three primary emphases:
Evangelism – the process of process of helping people become and grow as disciples of Jesus…Christians Mercy Ministries – being the “hands and feet” of Jesus to meet the physical needs of people Training – training Christians further in what it means to live out the call of God on their lives It’s this last area where we as a family are concentrating for this “season” in our lives, and it is this area into which a “Family DTS” falls.
DTS stands for “Discipleship Training School” and is the foundational training school in YWAM. It also serves as the entry process through which one must go to be on “staff” with YWAM.
A DTS is a 5-6 month school divided up into “lecture” and “outreach” phases. These could also be termed “theory” and “practice” phases respectively. The goal of a DTS for YWAM as a ministry organization is to ensure that everyone in YWAM has a relatively common foundation theologically and experientially before moving on in YWAM (if someone so chooses). The goal of a DTS for a student can be summed up in the short “motto” of YWAM….”To Know God and Make Him Known”. If you think about that statement, there’s literally an endless depth that can be explored in the process of “knowing God” and “making Him known”. Certainly more than a 6 month time period could possibly accomplish. The DTS, therefore is really a launching pad (certainly not THE ONLY launching pad) for those who want embrace the pursuit of God and His service with their whole lives…especially if they believe that their service will be in the context of YWAM organizationally.
YWAM probably conducts 100-200 DTS’s a year around the world. The bulk of these are targeted towards singles in the 18-25 range (it IS after all: YOUTH With A Mission…not BALDING-40-YEAR-OLD-GUYS With A Mission!). Thankfully, YWAM has been exploring how to embrace families and others outside of that 18-25 target range who feel a call to missions as well….enter the FAMILY DTS!
We recognize that God calls ALL people to follow Him wholeheartedly…from ALL walks of life and periods of life. His plans for all of us are exciting and ultimately fulfilling…no matter who we are or our circumstances!
But…the family? Isn’t that hard to take a family from “everyday life” and send them to the mission field? Certainly the odds seem stacked against families because of their increased commitments and responsibilities. Our desire, with a Family DTS, is to target the release of the WHOLE family into ministry…not only Mom and/or Dad. While we do make efforts to cater to the unique needs of families, we want to make sure that all involved realize that the MOST important aspects of responding to the call of God on one’s life are the issues of the heart. In this respect, a Family DTS is no different from a DTS populated by single 18-25 year olds.
So what does a Family DTS look like?
Well, it is a group of families (of all shapes and sizes) coming together, living “in community” (i.e. exceedingly close proximity!), and attending a YWAM DTS together…a DTS that seeks specifically to cater to the whole family. We don’t just tolerate children…we want to include and focus on them as well during this time.
So what does THIS Family DTS look like?
As of September 1, 2001, we had 8 families here at Stanely House, ready to spend the next 6 months pursuing God and more fully trying to grasp what it means to love Him and serve Him as a family…and they’re STILL here (thank God)! Here’s a break down of the very precious souls here:
A family of 5 from Atlanta, Georgia A single mother and her 2 kids from Somerset, England A young, childless couple from Bradford, England A family of 4 from South Korea A single mother and her daughter from Medford, Oregon A family of 6 from Mississippi A family of 4 from Leeds, England A family of 8 from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada These are all living IN Stanely House. Additionally, we have 5 staff families and several single staff members living near Stanely House. Things are REALLY buzzing around here!
We as staff families have the privilege of providing a structured program of discovery of who God made them to be and what He made them to do. The discovery happens between the individual and God as they are challenged by a lecture topic or even just how to deal with their neighbors’ children or their laundry or work duties, etc. Our job is just to facilitate this process. It’s not big in terms of the responsibility of the growth of each student but it is in terms of the amount of effort required to keep the school moving and provide that structure week in and week out until February 23, 2002.
What is the Leigh family doing as part of this Family DTS?
There are many responsibilities in this DTS and thankfully we don’t have them all! God has and is putting together the team necessary to accomplish all of the things necessary to keep the school going. Here are some of the ways that we’re involved:
David co-ordinates and leads most of the worship (music) times Angela directs the children’s program David is responsible for tracking the finances We will be leading one of the long outreaches in January Angela created the student and staff handbooks for this DTS David will be teaching two short subjects during the lecture time We are running a marriage class during the DTS with DTS student couples in it We are responsible for having 1-on-1 meetings with 5 of the students to be a sounding board and help monitor and guide their DTS experience…basically a friend who has “been there”. David is responsible for updating the YWAM Scotland Family Ministries web site David is co-ordinating contacting NEXT year’s Family DTS students David is developing an on-line/downloadable/e-mailable version of the FDTS application Angela is homeschooling our children Ok…that’s enough information for now…it can be almost as exhausting to write about it! Please let us know if this is helpful in your understanding or if you have other questions. We can go from here and let you know more about different areas. Finally…
How can we pray for the Leigh family in Scotland?
Unity and strong relationships among the students and staff of the Family DTS Wisdom to accept God’s grace for this day only and not for all that comes tomorrow Physical and emotional strength for each day Closeness as a family Our laptop computer had a major software crash…pray that we are able to recover key files *** Literally, as I’ve been writing, I’ve just been alerted to the horrific, unbelievable events in New York and Washington DC and Pittsburgh…and who knows where else…, and have been viewing some televised live reports. Our own daily needs seem puny by comparison, but it also underscores to me that our time is tenuous and short. There IS an enemy to our souls who desires to “take us out”. As such, it makes me more aware that we must be about God’s business, and releasing these families into missions is so vital. As you pray for the victims and survivors in New York and Washington and Pittsburgh, pray also for those who would take the Good News of Jesus around the world. ***
We love you all,
David, Angela, Rachel, Noah, Olivia
As you may remember, we just finished leading the first Married For Life course here in Scotland, and it was a wonderful experience. One couple in our class had been separated 4 months, taking the class as a last ditch effort to save their marriage. They were our best students and ended the class back together again with a stirring in their hearts to minister to other couples! Angela and I were challenged weekly to deal with negative life patterns that have sprung back up during this transitional time in our lives. Our “leaders- in-training” couple were from our church here, and I believe they blessed us more than anything we did for them! They’ve become our first real Scottish friends, and we will really miss our weekly social / prayer times together! They’ve also given us a lot of cultural insight that has been invaluable, as well. As we go on to teach an MMI class as part of the FDTS, they will begin another class at the same time as group leaders w/ LITs of their own. We’ve multiplied! It’s this involvement in releasing people into life-changing purposes that is so incredibly satisfying to us. We look forward to attending the first UK/Europe MMI conference in the south of England at the end of November. We hear they may be looking for English speakers to teach the course in France to missionaries there! We could do that a lot quicker than teaching it in French!
And now that the class is over, our attentions are focused on preparations for the Family DTS. We are running this school with 4 American staff families and a few young singles. Our family is focusing on the family and children’s program, worship, and administration/finance. In order to involve our kids in this, all 5 of us are making a handmade card together each week to send to each family to encourage them and introduce ourselves before they arrive. Rachel is thrilled to start hearing God’s voice as she picks out a scripture for each child. Noah also hunts for good verses, and Olivia contributes her artwork!
We’ve gotten to meet a couple of the British families already, who have come up to check us out, and they leave with an inner confirmation that they are supposed to come. That’s encouraging, considering we feel that most of our students, based on their applications, are as qualified to lead a school as we are! (Almost all of them have had mission experience and/or leadership roles in the church.) They are a mix of American, British, & S. Korean, and 2 are single moms. Some are here to stay, some are heading directly to the mission field, and some are just trying to figure out what their future holds. This is a special group of people!
On the surface, there is a GREAT deal to do and tasks threaten to consume us. (Do you remember us saying this a year ago?) We all have a strong feeling, however, that God is birthing something quite significant here and that the enemy would like nothing better than to see us SO divided in our activities that our unity as a team is crippled. As we “divide and conquer” the To Do List, the devil would love to “divide and conquer” US! This is even affecting our marital unity! We’re not a team with a long history, so we’ve much iron-sharpening yet to experience before we’re really cemented together. This is a crucial, formative time for the team and we really want to battle against this tendency to separate.
Here are some prayer requests while we’re on the subject: * Provision for a bigger car – we need something with at least 7 seats to minister easily to families without transport and to provide leg room for our growing children! * Wisdom to discern creeping FDTS Staff team dis-unity, humility to yield to each other, and a genuine growing love * Wisdom for integrating MMI into this Family DTS – this is a POWERFUL ministry combination but there are some logistical hurdles to overcome * A blanket of grace for the student families who are in MAJOR transition to prepare to attend our school. * Grace to yield to God’s solutions for the large list of FDTS preparations * Deep, intimate time with God when our task list screams the loudest * Beginning today is Rachel’s first ever week away at a Christian youth camp in Edinburgh – pray that she will meet God in new & wonderful ways! * Olivia graduated from pre-school/K today. Angela is now officially home-schooling all 3 and staffing the FDTS all at the same time! Need we say more?
We understand, that if you support us financially, you’re just about out of address labels for sending in checks to our church. So, for supporters not attending our church, more mailing labels are on the way! (If you do attend our church, and still want address labels, just reply to this newsletter and let us know!)
Much Love from your Scotland team, David & Angela
P.S. – By the way, the UK Television licensing guy FINALLY came (they made good on their threats). He just asked if we had a TV…we said no…and he left…didn’t even come in and snoop around. All bark and no bite! P.P.S. – Top 5 Reasons to Live in Scotland: 1. Only place you can buy a batter-fried Mars Bar with your fish & chips 2. Small washers & dryers in the kitchen make it easy for the kids to do their own laundry! 3. The grass is so fine that you buy lawn mowers that “hover” without wheels and cut with small plastic blades!! 4. Potato chips come in about 10 different flavors, and they don’t include American flavors! 5. Window washers come thru the neighborhood every 6 weeks with their ladders and do all your outside windows for $3!
This is an accurate description of the month of April for us, and the first 2 verses describe our time away in France!
It started with a weekend alone with my pen pal of 25 years. Our visits have averaged out to once every 5 years, and they always bring a greater depth of understanding with each other. This visit was no different! I also got to experience 3 very warm sunny days in her fair city, making winter a dim memory!! I call her “mon petit tresor” – my little treasure, because she has been such a giving and devoted friend..
Then I got to take my first ride on the TGV (France’s high-speed) train up north to join some women intercessors to pray during the 40 days of prayer for France. I met some wonderful women, stayed with a beautiful English family, and sobbed during most of the speaking and prayer times! Mission accomplished!
Another TGV took me down to Paris to meet up with David at the home of missionary friends that we support. Besides the great food and fellowship, the cultural highlight was attending their son’s “carnivale” pre-school event. 50 3 & 4 yr. olds dressed in outlandish costumes danced to the beat of an African drummer, and then were herded out of the security of their schoolyard, & down the street. Police directed traffic while we all stood for half an hour in the middle of an intersection trying to see and hear while the children sang their little songs. Then we walked them back to the school and stood behind a chain link fence while the headmaster set fire to a cardboard “carnival man” on the playground. The kids watched solemnly until he was reduced to ashes and then with cheers and applause, headed for home. As Dave Barry so aptly puts it, “I am not making this up!”
David and I spent the remainder of our week in a reasonable hotel in the thick of Paris across the street from a Tex-Mex bar-restaurant called “INDIANA!” Celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary a few months early, we fell in love with each other all over again, and that was reassuring! If you wrote it as an algebraic equation, it would look like this: D&A(age)39 – 3(children) -100(tasks) = D&A(age)22! We also attended a couple of encouraging services with French believers where a God-fearing Ugandan named John Mullinde spoke with authority on putting our families before all else. Convictions deepened!
Back at home, “the flowers HAD appeared on the earth,” and all of Paisley was swimming in yellow daffodils! (see attached Easter photo!) We celebrated Easter with our MMI marriage class Leaders-in-Training couple, who live out in the countryside with 2 kids, 9 & 11. It was a cold, but clear day, and the kids had a ball hunting for candy (no such thing as plastic eggs here) and rolling boiled eggs down a huge hill! Their Easter baskets were full of French trinkets this year!
We’ve jumped into leading the first Married For Life group in Scotland, and it has been an honor to minister to these 5 precious Scottish couples every week in our home. They are really pressing into God’s best for their marriage, and David and I are realizing how little we’ve walked out these principles in this last 2 years of upheaval, when we needed them the most! We’ve done a lot of repenting before the topics we’ve taught so far, so that we’re hopefully not being hypocrites! Ha!
David also stepped out in a big way this month when he preached his first sermon for our church here while the pastor attended a conference. He spoke on taking our complaints to God rather than others, and it was very well received. I was beaming through the whole thing!
And last week, an important “time of singing”(vs.12) happened for our family. We had been asked to help out in leading worship one Sunday at church and decided this was the time to start walking out our family vision to include the children. So Rachel sang back-up and played a little violin, and the 2 younger ones stood on the floor in front and waved their worship ribbons or played a percussion instrument. Though it wasn’t the smoothest worship we’ve ever been involved in, mostly due to technical difficulties, I believe it was a pleasing aroma to God!!
Well, we’re approaching our first anniversary of being here in Europe and it feels like we’re finally finding our niche. We will continue the marriage ministry momentum by starting up again in the fall when all the student families arrive, forming a group with the couples that want to make it part of their curriculum. A year ago, many of you also started partnering with us financially and we asked for a year’s commitment. So it’s time for our current supporters to let us know if you’re in for the long haul. We believe that we are here until we see revival in Europe on a major scale! So, we are asking all of our current and new financial supporters to please reply to this e-mail with a note about your future support status. We will consider you “on board” until we hear from you or you see us moving back home, and will discontinue asking on a year-to-year basis.
A big thank you to all of you for seeing us through this transitional year!!! (canned pumpkin, Excedrin, American-sized paper, Smartfood, Prayer of Jabez, clothes for the kids, encouraging e-mails, school supplies… you know who you are!) We are blessed!!! Love, Angela
P.S. Our dear friend and co-worker, Kimberley Skaines is in the States visiting churches and supporters the month of May. All of our home church friends are instructed to give her hugs to bring back to us!!!
In our last update, we indicated that it looked as if we might be working with Marriage Ministries International (https://www.marriage.org) again soon. Indeed, as we thought, we will be doing that. It’s happened faster than we had thought though (we’re still spinning!).
A couple from Denver that we know (Joe and Stephanie DeMott) had been feeling for some time that God was telling them to come to Scotland and help in the launch of this particular ministry here. MMI already exists elsewhere in the UK but not in Scotland. When we first heard that they were coming we were excited but didn’t know if we could really commit to help in any way or if we really had any good contacts for them.
Well, in the mean time, God was positioning us into a church in a very definite way. Our pastor here, John Fletcher, has been incredibly welcoming AND releasing. Additionally, in YWAM, our team began to look at various existing ministries which could be used as vehicles for discipleship in the process of doing God’s work. MMI certainly fits that bill. As we began to make contacts to see if we could get in on the launch of MMI in Scotland, our pastor asked us (knowing our background in MMI) if we’d be willing to do any teaching on marriages. What timing! When we helped to arrange an informational meeting for pastors for MMI, John single-handedly got several different churches involved and the turnout for the meeting was fantastic.
We thought we’d probably get started in May but then we came up against that very unique European cultural tradition…THE SUMMER HOLIDAY! “So high, can’t get over it…So low, can’t get under it…So wide, can’t get around it…Ohhh Holidays”. Literally, if we couldn’t start almost immediately, we couldn’t start until August or September…at which point we want to do a 2nd MMI group during the Family DTS. The Marriage course is 14 weeks long and we had to be creative to squeeze everything in by the end of June…because everybody scatters after that!
We couldn’t start until April 12th because Angela and I will be in France until the 9th of April to visit friends and attend a prayer conference (more about that in a minute). Since we’ve lead a group before, we could start immediately but we’d have to train our “leader in training” couple (a WONDERFUL couple from our church) along the way…extra time and commitment. We had our informational meeting for the couples on Sunday and we filled right up with others still interested for the next group! We’re excited about what God will do during this class with all the people involved…including us.
This morning Angela flew to Lyon, France to spend a few days with her special pen-pal Corinne. On Sunday, she takes a train to Lille to attend a women’s conference, “Deborah Arise” in conjunction with the 40 days of prayer for France. On Wednesday, I fly to Paris and we visit friends in Paris and then on Friday and Saturday we attend another prayer conference. We fly back on Monday the 9th and start the new MMI class on the 12th.
All of this brings MANY prayer requests to mind that I’d like to list out. We really need your prayers for this season!
1. For us and this MMI class. It is the FIRST one for MMI in Scotland. This is a ministry that satan HATES and he loves to attack it. I pray that we would look like Moses in Hebrews 11:23 and be hidden for 3 months so that this seed could be firmly planted in Scotland…and flourish! 2. Our time in France. Angela JUST called (as I was writing this) from Lyon. She missed her connection in London and had to pay another £120 (approx. $180) to get to Lyon. She ended up at a different Lyon airport and still has not connected up with her pen pal. Her pen pal, Corinne is VERY special and is not yet in God’s family. Please pray that this will be a key time in that process of seeing her come to Jesus. Pray also for our overall time in France on this trip as to how it might reveal some aspects of our future there and possible contacts for outreach on the next Family DTS. 3. Pray for our children and the friends taking care of them…for safety and wisdom. 4. On April 22nd, I’m doing the message at church. God has been stirring some things on my heart. Pray that God’s heart would come across in this. 5. My French. I’m taking a course at Paisley University and have enjoyed it but the more I know the more I know that I DON’T know. Pray against discouragement and pride. 6. Continued insight into God’s heart for the September Family DTS and how the apparent gaps will be filled.
You all are a blessing to us and we appreciate VERY much! David and Angela
We’re definitely back in the northern latitudes!
When we last left our “ragamuffin” band of families we were headed SOUTH…should’ve stayed down there! We left Matour and our visit of the Cluny Abby and our next stop was Bourg-St.-Andeol for an overnight stay. We learned first-hand just how narrow streets can be and still be “navigable” in old European towns. As we followed directions to the place we were staying, we surely thought we had made yet another navigation error (we are WAY used to that now!) since all there was, was this narrow alley that seemed to close in more and more (moving trash cans as we went just to get by). Low and behold…we had actually followed the directions correctly. Thankfully this was only one night!
Bourg-St-Andeol is 12 km from the southern France YWAM base we visited last year and we paid them a brief-but-good visit during our short time there. Then, the next day, we headed towards Nice…our final “real” destination.
We stayed in 3 “gîtes” during our time in France. The one near Nice was probably the only one that lived up to my “imagination” of what such “rustic”, and “culturally-representative” houses should be like. The one in Matour was a terrific accommodation but was basically a modern, 5 story dormitory building.
The town we stayed in, about 30 minutes from Nice, was called St. Jeannet. “Jeannet” was not some spiritual lady in France’s history. Rather, it refers to John the Baptist. St. Jeannet is a village on the side of a foothill/mountain in the Maritime Alps. This part of the French coast is a combination of a small amount of flat area near the river basins interspersed with mostly steep hills that jump right up from the coast and continue up to snow-capped peaks. These coastal, steep hills often are quite built up with houses practically on top of each other. St. Jeannet itself is an old and very picturesque village and very compact together as well.
We were there 6 nights and 5 days, including 1 free day. As was our custom in the entire trip, one of our team did research about where to visit and pray. In between getting lost and separated as a group, we visited and prayed at: * The promenade (the beach) * A high crest over-looking “old Nice” and the port on which are the ruins of the first church in Nice * A Roman ruin which exalted Caesar as god and overlooked Monaco * The Marc Chagall Museum which has 19 large murals from the Bible
On the free day the rest of the team drove into Italy and back and our family went to a mall in downtown Nice! Necessary…but I would have rather spent the day just sitting on the beach being soothed by the breaking waves and light-azure waters. Angela and I also had the opportunity to go to a local sacred choral music concert in St. Jeannet one night at the local church. It was a wonderful time for us. One of our deep desires is to worship (meaning with music specifically) in European cathedrals. This was close, in that it was sacred music resonating in an ancient French church…even though we weren’t singing it. Truly beautiful.
Our drive back concerned us in that it was basically 4 straight days of long drives punctuated by unpacking-sleeping-packing-going again. At this point in the outreach we were all feeling fatigue from the entire 6-week journey. It did not seem like a pleasant prospect. Due to this, we altered one of the stops…London, and decided on returning via a different route. This would be an overnight ferry from Zeebrugge, Belgium to Kingston-upon-Hull and had 3 advantages for us: a shorter drive from Paris; actually moving towards our destination while we slept; a shorter last day back into Paisley.
Our drives from Nice to Lyon and from Lyon to Paris were, thankfully, shorter than we had anticipated and the weather was not too bad either…but it definitely got colder when we went north! In Paris we had the delight to stay with the same family that hosted us the first time and they also hosted a “crépe party” for us at their church. The pastors wife probably made crépe’s for 3 hours straight! We then had a time of worship with their church and finally headed towards bed.
The drive to Zeebrugge was punctuated with getting lost and bad weather at the end and having to run around and find our last-minute reservations when we arrived at the pier. Though it frayed nerves and stomachs, it was par-for-the-course by this time and seems a distant memory now. We got on the boat in plenty of time and it really was a much better way to go on our way back…kind of like a one-night cruise…economy-class.
This was Thanksgiving Day for all of us Americans but there was little outward evidence of that (other than the nasty weather). Hot dogs on the boat in a baguette were good, but a poor substitute for turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie….and familiar faces back home. It wasn’t morose by any means, but I certainly felt a “quiet” in my heart as I contemplated home and the 21 people shoe-horned into my parents house that day.
The last day of our journey dawned bright and clear as we pulled into port in Merry Old England. We were driving on the left again so we had to concentrate a bit but understanding shopkeepers was a nice feeling to come back to. Kind of odd for us who have set up home here to land on “foreign soil” and have some measure of feeling “at home”…or at least “familiar” with my surroundings.
We literally drove east-to-west across England and were treated to lunch by some friends of ours whom we met in our Marriage Ministry days. They are the UK directors for MMI and, amazingly, offered to feed 19 hungry, weary travelers for lunch! Thankfully their house is much larger than ours and they could actually fit us comfortably. It was an ideal setup and a delightful time with some VERY gracious people…with one drawback…we didn’t want to leave and still had about 4 hours ahead of us!!! We reluctantly got back on the road and headed home. We managed to get separated from each other on a dark, rainy and busy highway and miraculously (thank God) got joined back up again. We even managed to make wrong turns once we got back to Paisley…quite comical by this point!
Well, we’re home now and finishing the school this week. We’ll send more about life post-school and what our near-term future holds later. This update was too much to digest already and I appreciate your patience. Still working on web site pictures. We’ll let you know when they are there…probably next week.
Happy Thanksgiving (late) and Merry Christmas (early)! David
I’ve had (and am still having) some difficulty with Internet connectivity. I had something all set up to dial my ISP in Scotland just to download/upload e-mail via our long-distance calling card. It worked great halfway through Paris but then it stopped working. Because local calls cost money over here it was important that I had an arrangement that didn’t cost our hosts any money. This was such an arrangement. I’ve finally bought a calling card that facilitates the same thing and has a certain amount of minutes on it. It may actually be cheaper too. In our last stop, I had to go to an Internet café and fumble my fingers on a French-layout Mac keyboard to try and do e-mail…never again, hopefully!!! Anyway, I think I’m back on-line now!
Much has transpired since the 29th of October in Paris….duh…!
I’ll just do more of an overview to cover the last two weeks or so…
In addition to the prayer times we had during the day in Paris, on Halloween night (which is ONLY 4 years old as a “holiday” in France…imported from the good ol’ US of A), Angela had the opportunity to go with the pastor’s wife and daughters to an all night Halloween prayer and worship vigil. 500 people of all denominations gathered in a large Catholic church to worship and pray. Angela didn’t stay all night but what she was able to attend was powerful.
We finished the week in Paris with a time of sharing and praying for our hosts, Monika and Josef Berchtold. It was a very valuable time. They really opened their hearts to us and I feel that we got a good picture of what a great many of the pastors in France experience. In addition to our chance to pray for them, I think that one of the main reasons we were hooked up with them for that week was to more closely identify (as much as we COMPLETE outsiders could), with the circumstances and struggles of a typical pastor’s family (and what a wonderful family they are!)
From Paris, we drove north to Roubaix near Lille, to attend the Heart for France conference. This conference was put on by World Horizons, an international missions organization. The conference was primarily targeted towards people NOT from France who have a heart for France. There were a good number from the UK and the US, and everything was bilingual (speaking and worship) between English and French. World Horizons staffed the conference with a group from Iceland who were part of a school that they were running and they helped take care of our kids during morning sessions.
We stayed about a 5 minute walk from the church where the conference was being held in a budget hotel chain (shared bathrooms, etc.) It worked out well though as they were able to give us a wing all to ourselves with a door. That helped a lot since the “spirit” of the hotel was not exactly a family-friendly one. Fortunately, the conference staff agreed to feed all of us along with the other staff and that made our lives much easier.
Getting our clothes clean was hard enough! Laundromats here are stripped down: no change machines, no rolling baskets, 2 chairs, one big table, and lots of smoke. It took us an hour just to get there and round up the right change! It takes another hour to wash and dry, and another half hour to fold and sort the laundry of 5 different families! (You know you’re on outreach when you’re folding other people’s underwear!)
The conference itself was really outstanding for many of us on our team. There was fantastic revelation into what God is doing and wants to do in France. Each morning there was a time where the “French half” of the conference leaders shared several strategic prayer issues and we had a time of corporate prayer. This was great and confirmed much of what we had been sensing as well. There was worship every morning and night.
I say for “many of us” because some others on the team were experiencing some intense input from the Lord simultaneously with distractions of the spiritual environment of the area, that completely consumed their focus and made it difficult to “connect” with the conference. It was good for us to understand what each person was experiencing during this time and better accept our differing perspectives.
I was blessed to be able to join the worship team at the conference to do percussion. The conference was relatively small (about 200 people by the end) and the small worship team consisted of a wonderful, talented Irish guy, Ian McMaster on guitar, a French keyboard player and an American (living in Belgium) synth player. They were lacking a sound technician for a few days and put out a call for anyone who knew a “little” about sound. Since I barely qualified for that, and no other hands were raised, I foolishly raised my hand. I was able to turn the knobs but when it all started, it was MUCH more eventful than I expected. My hat is off to all sound technicians for their ability to work under that stress. Once they got a sound technician I played around on a djembe that was lying about and the worship leader asked me to join in on the team. It was wonderful fellowship between hearts and with music. A week of straight hand drumming was more than I’ve done before, however, so my hands were quite sore by the end.
The kids made worship streamers and enjoyed participating in worship with the other banner wavers. At one point, after people prayed on a huge map of France and lit small “tea candles” and placed them on the map, Olivia remained up there and waved her streamer while we continued worshiping. Several people said they were touched by her presence there. We’ll have that Kodak moment on the website as soon as we get back to Scotland! I’m excited by the new relationships started there with wonderful people from the UK, France, and the States.
The week was stressful for Angela and me as a couple. As has happened many times in the past, as I become more involved in something (worship activities, making contacts with people, etc.) there seems to come a separation between us. It becomes a perception from me that Angela’s not joining up with what’s happening and a perception from Angela that I’m abandoning her and the children. This causes inevitable strife between us until I finally get a clue and understand what is really going on. We’re still trying to overcome that week just a bit. It’s obvious to me that God continues to allow circumstances for us that put us into these reactions until we learn to NOT react in our usual ways. Life patterns of behavior are very hard to adjust…Help God!
We drove from Roubaix on Saturday to a gîte near Troyes for one night and then last night to Matour.
Today we drove through the gorgeous Burgundy countryside in the rain to tour a small winery. We wanted to buy the most recent vintage that they sold to use for a communion time at Cluny abbey, pouring out the remainder of the bottle on the ruins, symbolizing our desire for God to pour His “new wine” out on France. The Abbey in Cluny has a rich history in Europe. It was once one of the most powerful forces for reform and renewal in the church. It’s influence for God throughout Europe was significant. We prayed there for God to renew that flow of His Spirit in France and Europe. But the best part was that Noah and Olivia decided that they wanted to ask Jesus to live in their hearts right then and there. Until now, they’d had no desire. So standing in the rain (God’s baptism?), up on the ledge of a ruin, side-by-side, I led them in a prayer of salvation. We all clapped and then sang “I have decided to follow Jesus” before taking communion with them for the first time. This was an emotional and prophetic act for our family being that it occurred in France and in a place like Cluny. Ironically, this morning, I got up in a HUGE “funk”. I was good for NOTHING and yet God is so much bigger than my puny emotions. His eternal purposes stand regardless of my temporal purposes! He showed me that He can redeem any situation and use it for His Glory!
Tomorrow…an overnight stop and then on to Nice!
(well…a southeast suburb called Noisy la Grand)
21-10-00 – Well this is the next day that I should be describing…I’ll have to see how much I can remember. We arrived in Normandy on the 20th fairly late but we got there easily from the ferry. The biggest blessing for me was that the Additional person for the team that we were to meet up with in France was there at the house where we were staying. God Is so good! Otherwise there would have been additional driving that night to find her at a train station in Caen…a nearby City.
We stayed in Merville-Franceville-Plage, just to the north of the mouth of the Orne river in Normandy. Our location was Fantastic. We spent two days off, resting and adjusting and planning for the week. The week was spent going to several Locations that were key during the D-Day landings during World War II. At each place we asked God to show us what was Significant about this place. We were looking to see what parallels existed between the invasion of France in WWII and What God is doing and will do in moving in France now. We had two days off but on one day we went as a team to visit Mont-St.-Michel. Just an incredible place…truly a “wonder” to see.
23-10-00 – We went to Arromanches-les-Bains where an artificial harbor was built in WWII to allow ships to off-load military Materiel. The harbors were created in the UK as huge concrete blocks and then floated/towed to France. They were then Put together to break the power of the sea in that area so that landings could occur in calm water. We felt that God was Saying that He would be raising up teams to be the pieces of an artificial harbor for facilitating the movement of people in to France. What we would do, as we felt that God was giving us any kind of insight, is that we would pray “into” that insight as We felt He was leading us.
24-10-00 – We visited Pointe-du-Hoc where a strong set of German bunkers were. They had been bombed HEAVILY just prior to US Army Rangers climbing the steep cliffs and taking the bunkers on the morning of D-Day. The bomb craters are still there and the destruction that was loosed there 55 years ago must have been beyond belief. The Lord brought to mind Psalm 2:4,5,9 as I saw this and reminded me that His power is so much more incredible than anything we know of and that He can prepare the way for what He wants to accomplish.
25-10-00 – We spent time closer to home (the other days had taken some bit of driving to get to and back) by going to see Pegasus Bridge and the “Commonwealth Cemetery” and the Merville “big guns” battery. Pegasus Bridge was about 5 minutes away from us and was significant on D-Day as the first bridge taken…just 20-30 minutes after midnight on June 6th. One of our number James Skaines (15 years old), had studied this particular bridge extensively. While there, he had the opportunity to meet a member of the British team that took the bridge and the daughter of the owners of the café at the end of the bridge who had been key in the French Resistance. Earlier in the trip there was an indication from God that we would meet a “Rahab” in our travels in France…it seemed that meeting this lady may have been that key person. She was quite impressed with young James and his knowledge and interest in history and asked that he keep in touch with her. We’ll see what God makes of that connection.
26-10-00 – We opted to spend this day re-grouping and planning our leaving the next day and working through team issues. During the week we’d had opportunities to be offended with one another and to experience problems in driving in France (getting lost, etc.). It was incredible how often we got lost. At first it just seemed to be problems with confusing roads in big cities and poor signs, etc. Then, though, it became comical about how we made mistakes on even the most simple routes. It became obvious that it was being used to divide us. This day-off was a good day to work those issues out and observe what God was/is doing in our hearts about coming together as a team. Hard, but necessary “iron-sharpening-iron” times. We are a better team for it. For me, personally, I’m learning to be more flexible…long a problem with me.
27-10-00 – We drove to Paris this day. The bulk of the day was a pretty driving day but in the beginning we got lost a bit and when we got to Paris and the place where we’re staying, we actually lost one of our 3 vehicles. Eventually we all got there but this “getting lost” thing has definitely gotten OLD! We are being hosted by a Swiss-German family who has been in France for 20 years pastoring a church. It is AMAZING how they have opened up their house and church. We can’t see how they are doing it, but it is a tremendous blessing to us!
28-10-00 – This was a free day to get ourselves settled here. Some of our group went into Paris to begin scouting out our routes for the week.
29-10-00 – Today some of our team went into Paris again to continue logistical planning (and the Louvre is free on Sundays!) and the rest of us attended the church we’re being hosted by. (If we’d all been there we probably couldn’t have fit in their church as we about doubled the size of the church). I was blessed to be able to play the drums during worship and give a brief talk about what our team was about. James Skaines (the elder) actually gave the sermon for the day. It was a real blessed time as God challenged the young people to serve Him. After church we had a good “old fashioned church pot luck” and had a great time of fellowship with the people of the church.
Tomorrow…the beginning of Paris for a week!
Much more is “set” now and that’s nice (although I’m sure God has some surprises up His sleeve). We’re not completely covered (literally) for every night of lodging yet, so your prayers are certainly welcome there. Additionally, it looks like the money is coming in for everyone who needs it so we’re praising God that everyone is going. Some are stepping out in “financial faith” as not all of it is accounted for just yet, but God knows all these and other details.
We leave in the morning and we all have many packing details to complete…not to mention still reaching contacts in France for other details.
We’ll try and keep you all posted as we go…pray all Internet connections work!!!
Here is the updated itinerary:
Mon 16/10 Travel To: London
We’re still don’t have our lodging in place, but we believe that we have gotten some direction from the Lord for our outreach itinerary to France, and we are passing that on to help you pray more effectively, since internet connection may be spotty. Here are our requests for our team of 19 traveling around France in 3 vehicles:
16-Oct: Drive to London from Paisley
17-18 Oct: London (St Paul’s cathedral, etc.)
19-Oct: Drive to Portsmouth; Ferry to Cherbourg
20-26 Oct: Normandy (WW2 spiritual parallels)
27 Oct-4 Nov: Paris area (Joan of Arc)
4-10 Nov – Lille: Heart for France conference with Martin Scott
12-13 Nov: Cluny abbey
14-15 Nov: St. Paul-Trois-Chateaux (YWAM base)
16-23 Nov: Nice (Gage’s outdoor church, prayer-walking)
24 Nov: Drive to Lyon
25 Nov: Drive to Paris
26 Nov: Drive to Zeebrugge, Belgium; take overnight ferry to Kingston-upon-Hull
27-Nov: Drive back to Paisley
At the end, we will have covered nearly 3500 miles and will have gained a wealth of experience. Hopefully will have also tapped into God’s heart for France, as well as how He wants to change OUR hearts!