Emmanuel and Esther Newsletter Chambéry, January 2018
You may have heard that huge amounts of snow fell on the Northern Alps in the first week of January. Over 2 meters of snow fell in less than 48 hours. That’s 6 ft 6 in. Some of you got in touch, asking how we coped. We wish we had as much snow as those parts. But you may be disappointed to hear that when it was snowing heavily in some parts of the Northern French Alps, we had mild and sunny weather. The heavy snow falls were limited to a specific area, in the high valleys on the border with Italy, about 2 hours drive from Chambéry. Actually, the Italian side of the Alps had even more snow than the French side. We’d had a bit of snow earlier in December, but it didn’t stay long. In spite of this, we are at last having a proper winter this year. We have had a lot of rain in the valley but it has snowed a lot higher up. It is very important for the local economy which relies heavily on skiing. It is not so good for local churches as some believers prefer going skiing than coming to church on Sunday morning.
So what has been going on in our ministry over the last few months?
From September to December, Emmanuel taught in the Belgian Bible institute in Brussels. He travelled 7 times to the Belgian capital. It was his third year as a visiting teacher. He taught two courses: early church history and a course on cults. Preparing the lectures on cults was very time consuming, and a spiritual challenge at times. It required a lot of research and Emmanuel still feels he has only scratched the surface. The added difficulty was spending so much time studying false teachings. Some are so strange that it is almost funny, but it is usually rather sad. The two courses blended well together as there are many links between early church history heresies and the teachings of contemporary cults, especially on the subjects of Christology and Trinitarianism. All major cults get their Christology wrong and as a consequence have erroneous views of the Trinity.
Emmanuel has now finished travelling but is waiting for essays and exams to mark. It will all be finished in the beginning of February. He has been invited again and will go back in September 2018 to teach Ecclesiology and a shortened version (12 hours) of the course on cults.
Continue to pray for Emmanuel as he reads and plans for future lectures. Thank God with us for this opportunity to teach the next generation of gospel preachers. Thank God with us for safe travels and for looking after the family back home.
Back in November, we had a conference on the origins of the Reformation and its relevance for today. It was a good time. Few church members came along, but two of our neighbours were present. One of them, the elderly lady living above our flat had good questions, and gave Emmanuel some homework: an exegesis of Colossians 1:24, in the original Greek. They will meet up to discuss it soon. The conference was recorded and those who couldn’t attend have been able to listen to it.
We did not have any visitors at our Carol service on Sunday 17th December, but it was a happy time as a church family.
There are several projects we’d like to work on in the coming months. One of them is a training morning for those leading worship. Usually, the preacher doesn’t lead the service. It is nice to have a diversity of people involved, but it can lead to problems and misunderstanding. We take it for granted that people understand the regulative principle and the basic purpose of a worship service. But this is not always the case. So the elders decided it was time for all those involved in leading the services to get together, study Scripture and agree on some common practices. We want people to communicate more, and we plan to have regular meetings to speak about the services. Pray with us that this will be helpful.
Another of our desires is to make sure that the elders are seen and heard more in the life of the church. For a long time, there was only one elder who chose to keep a low profile on many issues. This resulted in some confusion as to who was truly leading the church. The roles of the elders and deacons are still confused by many. We want to make sure that each member and each visitor knows who they must go to when they have a question.
Pray also for a morning of prayer we are organising on 3rd February. Its main purpose is to bring our need for a building before the Lord.
Emmanuel also hopes to resume his visits to the Chambéry Saturday Market
We have at last started a youth group. It has taken a long time. We have a few young people who could attend. But some are not interested and others can’t commit themselves because of many other commitments. But we decided to get started anyway. Emmanuel is leading it with David. We had three boys in December and two in January. We will try to meet once a month for a bible study, some games and some food.
Our friends François and Samantha will be moving in the coming months. François has had a new job nearer his home region and closer to where Samantha’s mum lives. François should move in the spring and Samantha and Solveig will follow him in the summer. We will miss them. François has been through a difficult time at work over the last few months. We’ve had many uplifting discussions. In November, Emmanuel went for a walk with François and it was good to get to know him better. Pray that François and Samantha will find salvation in Christ. There are few Christians in the region they are moving to though.
Manu and Aline’s youngest daughter attends the same school as our children. Manu had several accidents in recent months which have kept him at home. But Manu has a drink problem and being stuck at home has not helped. This problem has been known by many for a long time, but for the first time Aline has been more open about it. They live near the church. Pray that we will be able to get alongside them and help them out. Pray that Manu will find freedom from his drinking problem in Jesus Christ.
Esther has met an English lady called Rebekah who lives on the other side of town. Her boys attend the same Judo class as Maxime. When talking to Esther recently, she was very proud to say she was from a protestant (Methodist) background. Esther has invited her to church and Rebekah sounded quite enthusiastic about it. She is divorced from her French husband and is training to be a nurse. Pray that we will get to know her better and that we will see her in church. Esther still meets in the local café on Wednesday morning and Emmanuel joins them when he can. There are always great conversations. Esther has also joined a singing group that meets on Wednesday evenings.
We are all fine. Emmanuel will see his consultant in a few weeks’ time. We’ll keep you updated. The children are all enjoying school. The older ones are doing well and their teachers are happy with their work. Benjamin is learning to read and write. Clémence is quite shy but she has made friends in school.
Thank you for your perseverance in prayer. We are aware that you have been waiting for this update for a while. We’ll try to send shorter but more regular emails in the coming months.
Emmanuel, Esther, Jean-Baptiste, Maxime, Benjamin and Clémence
17 rue de l’Epine, 73160 Cognin, France
We are working with UFM Worldwide, 145 Faringdon Road, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 5DL, UK.