EDITED: I’ve added photos from our visit to Madame Paulette’s from 2012!!
This week Peter and I have been sharing our love for France and our mission to go there with pastors and missions directors within the IPHC denomination all over Virginia and West Virginia. Sometimes Peter shares and sometimes I (Emily) share. I wanted to repost a story that I wrote in 2012. It is the story I have been sharing with the pastors as I answer the question: How do we stay focused on the goal after so many years of trying and failing to answer the call to France? This story is my “why” and my “how”:
“A while back, when we were still in the States I bought a Latte at Starbucks. A venti. It was pricey for sure. But then I pulled out of the parking lot with my extra big coffee and it tumbled out of my cup holder and spilled all over the floor of my van. Nice. I had nothing with me to mop it up and we were on our way to a doctors appointment. I just had to leave it and deal with it later. And deal with it I did. After a day of running around the nice aromatics of coffee began to shift and we were now all suffering the aromatics of soured milk. A long story short (is it already too late for that?) we had to have the van detailed…twice, to try to get the smell out. I then joked that it was the most expensive coffee I never got to drink. But last weekend bumped this coffee story to second place.
How much would you pay to impact one single person with the Love of Jesus? How much of your money? your time? your stress? I am a believer in being smart and strategic in a mission. So which is smarter? More strategic? To share God’s love to as many people as quickly as possible? Sure. Sometimes. There certainly are times that you think big and lo and behold, God is thinking 10 times bigger and you just hold on for the ride! Sometimes. Then there are those times that you leave the 99 and go for the 1. It seems so so backwards, like bad missional strategy, doesn’t it? Think of how those 99 could then turn around and impact even more for the Kingdom?!
But just like God’s Kingdom economy is upside down in our eyes so is His strategy for reaching the lost with His love. How do we come into play? Availability. Willingness. Release. We make ourselves available to move ourselves, to open our eyes to what He is doing; to love someone. We become willing, taking care to remove and keep down the hedges that distance us from others. We release the notion of “OURS.” Our money. Our time. Our peace. No. We release all that. It is His to do with as He pleases.
This past weekend we took a journey as a family to the most rural place in France I think. It was beautiful but the process of getting there was horrendous. We knew it was important Kingdom work because the enemy was working overtime to thwart us, to discourage us, even to steal from us: our peace, our love, our luggage. We have learned to do battle in those moments: we give God praise and we demand of the enemy restoration of all things stolen!
We were blessed to have a weekend of refreshing in the beautiful countryside. The children played with sheep and hens and newborn lambs; they romped through green grass and picked flowers. We sat in the sunshine under blue skies and listened to nothing but the sound of the children laughing and the birds singing. It was just lovely. We had a wonderful time encouraging and being encouraged with fellow believers. There are no churches in any direction closer than an hour by car. Are you hearing me?! NO churches! There is the Catholic church but even in this area of France there was 1 priest for 35 churches. It is probably the most neglected and abandoned area in Christendom.
But back to the coffee. On Sunday, after a little prayer and singing with our new friends, we were invited over for coffee by their neighbor, Madame Paulette. She had seen the children playing and I had spoken to her briefly the day before. It is a bit rare to be invited into a French person’s home if they dont know you. So we quickly accepted the invitation. We went and she served cake and coffee and juice for the kids. The kids played with her dog. We were only there for about a half hour. But before we left we asked if we could pray for her and over her home. She didnt really respond, but she didnt say “no” so we went for it. We held hands all around and prayed in English and a bit in French and asked for blessing to cover over her and her house. It was pretty simple. We said our goodbyes but as we left she was crying and begging us to pray for her husband too. He is in hospital in another city. We assured her we would. In my broken French I told her that Jesus saw her, that He loved her and that He saw her as His special daughter. And she cried. And we knew. Knew that though the rest in the countryside was lovely it was only an added blessing. We were there for Madame Paulette.
We surely could have taken the money and the time we spent in going there for more strategic ministry work. But that is what Judas accused Jesus of too, being wasteful for the sake of one.
May we always be available and willing to lavish our love on Him and His love on others.
Please keep us and France in your prayers. This country needs Jesus so much. They are so hungry for it. There are many many “Madame Paulettes” all over France. How will they know if no one will come for a cup of coffee?
PS. If you are curious, Madame Paulette’s story is not over. I have her address and will be writing to her every so often, sending pictures of the children and a devotional book in French. She is ours to care for, a precious gift from the Lord.”
It is now 2016 and it has been 4 long years since we have had contact with Madame Paulette, but we still think of her often and pray for her. Join us in praying for her and for the many others in France who are lonely and have no hope. Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send us quickly into the harvest. As you already know, God always uses people to do His work and so you know that it takes “senders” for “goers” to be sent out! Please visit our partnership page to sow into our ministry directly either monthly or with a one time gift.