Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trip Video

I made it back to the USA! I'm going to take some time to update the blog in the next few days, but in the meantime, check out the video that Amos produced for our trip. Click the link below.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Follow-Up & Upcoming Events

Ça fait un moment que je mets à jour ce blog! (It's been a while since I've updated the blog)

The past week and a half has been a great time of follow-up, English practice groups and some translation work.... all mixed in with enjoying day-to-day life with the Rasch family.

Matt and I have had the pleasure of following up with a couple of people who responded to the Gospel while the team was here, and we have started going through Every Nation's One 2 One discipleship book with them. On Tuesday, I started a preliminary translation of the book into French. I am thankful to have been afforded the opportunity, and I am excited to be part of making foundational Biblical truths available in French. Once I'm done with my translation, it will go through various people (including native speakers) until it finally arrives at a completed version.

Also, we have organized thus far two English conversation practice groups in Cours Julien (the artsy district). A lot of the young people we've met here are hungry to improve their English, as many have aspirations to travel to America. These conversation groups have opened up many opportunities for friendship to grow and thrive, and it is a blessing to be able to get to know each other. Matt will continue to spearhead this initiative throughout the summer.

On Saturday, we have the Gospel Festival in Allauch. The pastor of Ésaïe 55 organizes this gospel music festival each year and publicizes it in Allauch and Marseille. Several international groups will be performing, and we have invited all the friends we've made here. Most of tomorrow (Friday) will be spent helping to setup for the event. I look forward to what God is going to do through it! Please pray for a fruitful time Saturday evening.

As for day-to-day life... First, I've learned a lot about being a parent. The way Matt and Christy orchestrate life with 4 children really amazes me! I've gotten to know each of their little personalities somewhat... boy, do they have personality! :) It has been great training for my future family!

The two oldest girls took me to a field near the house where snails congregate on plants. It was definitely one of the strangest (and coolest) things I've seen. We also visited the cat family that lives nearby, with kittens to boot! We took them chicken one day and tuna the next.

During my runs, I get to enjoy the view from here. Each day I appreciate more the natural beauty that surrounds Marseille.

Finally, Tuesday evening was Fête de la Musique. It's a very unique time in France where across the nation the streets are filled with bands performing and crowds enjoying the music. All the performances are free, and they're everywhere! I went with a couple of friends to the beach and had a great time connecting and enjoying the sights and sounds. I happened to get a picture of the sunset just as things were really getting started for the Fête.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers. God has great plans for Marseille and I am amazed each day at the way He orchestrates situations. To Jesus be the glory!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recap: Last Week

What a week it has been here in Marseille!

As may be readily apparent, I am still in France. Though my original return date was June 13, an opportunity opened for me to stay a few more weeks. I sought the Lord and felt confirmation in my heart to remain here for the rest of the month. I look forward to helping Matt follow up with the many contacts we made last week, as well as work on translation of the One to One book into French. I am thankful for the blessing of additional time here to continue the work that the mission team began.

Here's a brief synopsis of last week to catch everyone up to speed:

After moving to Ésaïe 55 in Allauch, we spent the first 3 days distributing packets to the residents of La Valentine, where Matt and Christy live. It's the 11th district (arrondissement) of Marseille. In the packets were a Gospel of John and flyers for Big Tommy's upcoming events at the tennis park here. We went out in teams of two and it was a great way to learn about the area and explore it. By Wednesday, we had distributed 1,300 packets!

We also had an assembly at the school the Rasch kids attend. All the children were so energetic! Big Tommy gave an encouraging speech about pursuing one's dreams and then did some feats of strength, including ripping a phone book in half, smashing unopened soda cans with his hands (soda went everywhere, ha!) and breaking a pair of handcuffs he was wearing. We had this crazy catchy music playing (Vous êtes fatigués? On n'est pas fatigués!) and really had a great time with the kids.

Big Tommy getting prepped

On Wednesday evening, Big Tommy also did a little show at the Ésaïe 55 children's ministry. Along with his "actes de force," he told the kids about how Jesus had changed his life. At the end, he asked if any of them wanted to receive Jesus in their heart. Several kids raised their hands, and so I was called upon to lead them one by one in a prayer in French. It was one of the sweetest moments of this trip. 

On Friday and Saturday night, Big Tommy did shows for the community at the tennis park. We had a lot of people come both nights, and our team was able to meet Matt and Christy's close friends. A friend of Matt's from Paris came down to translate at both events. 

One of the team members, Ben, actually did several of the stunts with Tommy. At one point, Tommy wedged Ben's arms between big cinderblocks and then smashed them with a sledgehammer! Somehow, Ben came out unscathed. He also twisted medal bars like they were Twizzlers. We're all proud of Ben for his strength and willingness to participate!

On Sunday, we had an outside service and Big Tommy gave a final performance. He shared his testimony with the congregation of how he came to know Jesus and how the Lord changed his life. Afterwards, we had a "pique-nique" with church members and friends. It was a great time of fellowship!

Friday, June 10, 2011

American PARTY!

We have changed locations and haven't had internet for the past few days, so I'm going to update the blog with the major events since last Friday. Here's the first!

As part of our outreach efforts, we organized une Fête Américaine (American Party) to which we invited all of the young people that we connected with this week. Check out the flyer that Matt designed and we passed out. The point of the party was to meet and converse with English speakers, and enjoy free pizza, music and dancing.

The hotel generously allowed us to use one of their conference rooms to host the party, and our team did a great job decorating it in classic red, white and blue. We were pleasantly surprised when people that we had invited started showing up, and each of them brought several friends. One young man that Whitney felt led to pray for in the metro station came and brought seven other people, two of whom have accepted Christ thanks to Brian's outreach! All in all, about 30 French young people came.

It was a great evening. We were all able to make connections with people and secure more time with them during the coming week. Matt and Christy were there, and a large group of the attendees signed up to stay in contact with them for English lessons. Several of our team members were able to share the Gospel, and I had the opportunity to translate for Rollan as he witnessed to two young men, one of whom recently converted to Islam. This was a fruitful conversation and I believe seeds were planted in their hearts.

Our team members have some serious talent; Katie, Whitney and Charity sang and played guitar and Amos and Malcom did some awesome "doogie" dancing. When they started dancing, a few of the French guys were itching to join in; they had quite the dance off. Before long, everybody was dancing!

Please join us in prayer that those with whom we follow up with and Matt follows up with will have an opportunity to hear the Gospel, and that those seeds will fall on fertile soil! We are trusting the Lord for multipliers here in France!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Big Tommy

Big Tommy from the Power Team is here to do a few shows for the community. We are distributing flyers and Biblical literature today!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Piercing the Darkness

What a busy few days it has been!

I haven't had much time to update the blog, much less sleep, eat, or relax. But in and through our hectic schedules, the Gospel has gone forth!

Our last day doing surveys was Wednesday. My partner, Cole, and I went with another team to a new campus (Université de Provence) and met a lot of students. Throughout the course of the day, we met a Muslim guy, two from Vietnam, one from China, a girl from Eastern Europe and finally four French high school girls. We were able to do surveys with all of them and got each of their contact information, they being mostly interested in practicing English with Matt and Christy. It's a great conduit for building relationships and an opportunity to live the Gospel in word and deed.

Apart from the campuses, we've also been able to minister to various people that we've met out in the city. At the popular Belgian fast-food restaurant here, called Quick, Rollan (a pastor from King's Park), Whitney, Cole and myself met a 60-year old man that we spent an hour with and invited to church. Being raised Catholic, he was very interested in becoming part of a church family. Please pray he comes tomorrow! Here's a picture from that evening at Castellane. It was pretty cool here for two days, unlike how hot it was when I arrived.

Rollan has a contagious personality and is anointed as an Evangelist, so he has been able to meet many people and share the Gospel with them. As one of two French-speakers on the trip, I have been able to accompany him to most of his meetings to translate for him. It has been a very rewarding challenge. Though taxing mentally, and even emotionally, I am blessed to be able to share hope with these French people in their native tongue. We are piercing the darkness with the truth and life of Jesus.

I told Rollan today that I have prayed many times to be poured out like a drink offering before the Lord, and I feel like I have been while here (2 Tim. 4:6). Thank you for your prayers for myself and Brian as we translate during these eternally-siginificant meetings. We are truly depending on the Holy Spirit as the Lord makes His strength perfect in our weakness.

One of the most remarkable meetings we had was with a middle-aged lady. Having endured much emotional pain and brokenness in her life, she has been drawn most recently to Buddhism, though having dabbled in the occult, drugs and substance abuse. I went with Rollan to meet her, and it was obvious within a few minutes that God was chasing her, especially in how He had prompted Rollan to stop her on the street a few days prior. The darkness in her life was palpable, but she has a sweet heart and I believe she is yearning for true healing and deliverance. We spent 3 hours with her, explaining who Jesus was and what He wanted to do in her life. At the end of the night, she said that she wasn't ready to make this decision. We gave her a Gospel of Luke and asked to meet her again. She said she "did not see sex in our eyes" like she sees in most men, but rather compassion for her. When we left her, I couldn't help but cry; her situation broke my heart. Rollan and I pleaded with the Lord on the way back to open her eyes. Please join us in asking God to mightily deliver her and set her free to love Him and be loved by Him! She is most precious to the King.

Another fantastic meeting was with a Muslim student that Dave and Katie met when we visited an English class. She is from northern Africa and invited them to her home to prepare couscous. They asked me to join them as she didn't speak much English, so I was only to happy to oblige! We spent the whole afternoon with her, and she prepared us a delicious meal of couscous, simmered vegetables and veal. She was curious as the the differences between Protestants and Catholics, and that opened the door for me to share a bit of my testimony with her. She seemed interested and I believe that even the joy on our faces was a witness to the power of Jesus! We had great discussion, and she would like to meet with us again and prepare almond cakes for us. She had such a sweet disposition and was hospitable and generous. We loved her company and are praying for an opportunity to share the Gospel. Please pray that the Lord would reveal Himself to her!

I've got much more to update, as this is only through Thursday evening. More to come! Thank you for all your prayers and support; you are truly partnering with the Lord in sowing seeds and reaping a harvest here in Marseille, France!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Each morning, we spend time in prayer and worship as a team to prepare our hearts and minds for what God wants to do that day. It is so essential to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and hear the Holy Spirit before we set out. During this time on Monday, Matt shared his vision for Marseille and France with us. The Lord spoke to him in a vision and told him to come here, and it was confirmed prophetically twice thereafter. In obedience, he and Christy packed up and moved here from Hungary.

Their story is an incredible testament to God's faithfulness and favor, and of the blessings that follow obedience. It was great to see and hear their heart for this nation.

After going over the strategy and mission for our time in the city, we set out to do a survey on the medical/dental campus near La Timone hospital. The surveys talk about the good life (La Bonne Vie) and prompt respondents to answer what they think is the most important aspect of a good life, where they get their values and ethics, etc. The final two questions asked if they might ever look to Jesus for help, and if they are interested in studying the Bible or practicing English. The survey is, of course, just a tool to begin dialogue and open doors for further conversation. We are trying to engage students ages 16-23, and we ideally want to be able to follow-up with them over coffee or dinner. We went out in pairs; I was paired with my pal Amos. Let me tell you... this STRETCHED me! I didn't expect to struggle as much with it, but it was completely outside my comfort zone. I think it was also intimidating because I did it all in French, so I felt somewhat limited in where I could take the conversation.

The other part of our goal in this is to invite these students we connect with to an "American Party" that we're having at the hotel Friday night. We're offering free food, music, conversation (in English so they can practice), dancing, etc. It's just another way to build rapport. We are handing out flyers to this after the survey, in addition to a Gospel of Luke.

What I've learned from Matt, and seen from doing the surveys, is that God is several generations removed from the mindset of the French people. The "starting point" for things is based in secular humanism, so we've met many students who have no interest in God, don't believe in God, or have been baptized "Catholic" but are non-practicing and don't hold it to be important in their lives. The education system here is also completely humanistic. As one person shared with me, "I don't really believe in God, I believe in myself." Whereas Americans have a basic Judeo-Christian worldview for the most part, the French do not. This is certainly a hard place to reach, but as a friend of Matt and Christy saw in a vision, there are shoots of grass (LIFE) breaking through the concrete! They are standing in faith to reap a harvest here, and to reach multipliers who will advance the Kingdom. God is doing mighty things and we are so blessed to be a part of it!

A group of 6 of us did have a very unique opportunity to attend an English-speaking class this afternoon. One of the girls who took our survey asked us to visit her class, and so we did. We made great conversation with the students, and God opened some doors there!

Please pray for us as we continue to do these surveys. I know that God has lined up divine appointments for each of us, and that He has already been working to prepare the soil of people's hearts. Please also pray that we would walk in supernatural discernment and boldness. We are fixing our eyes on Jesus, knowing that we are but vessels that hold a tremendous treasure!

Thank you, Mom, for this verse that so encouraged me today!

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17