We hope you Fall season has been blessed so far. We've had quite a warm Autumn, something that seems strange to write and yet we re quite thankful for. We still haven't brough out our winter coats, but as the rain falls and temperatures drop, we know it won't be long. The month of October has been one full of joys and challenges. Here are some of those highlights.
It was a month of visits, We were visited by fellow pastors like David Downs from CC Torino, Mike's former apologetics professor Yannick Imbert and Vanessa McElroy who our church adopted as a missionary. Vanessa was on her way back to Ukraine and stopped by for a little rest. We had her share on Sunday and the church really responded in a way we've never seen before. This is pretty exciting for us as it became evident the Lord was touching people's hearts. After her trip, the elders and Mike prayed about it and decided to adopt her a sour first missionary. This comes also at a good time because it corresponds in a way to our prayers about the new facility. Our goal is not just a new place, but a total transformation. We have bene praying for two months now, that God would provide while doing a new work in our hearts. What we've seen in this venture of faith is the beginning. Part of a transformed Church must include one that is looking out and one that is willing to serve in the city as well as internationally. The sweet blessing in regards to the building is that, since we've been praying, the room we wanted for the youth has been open to us for no extra charge and the owner has repainted the whole room! it seems like the Lord is already showing us unexpected provision.
With this kind of blessing, there is an accompanying challenge. This time is famously busy, since covid has become less and less of a concern here in the Paris area, we've noticed people have returned to work with a new frenzy. This can be disheartening when we see people less that we've come to rely on, by the time the weekend hits are too exhausted to worship with us. We understand too that when we undertake something of the Lord there will always be push back, attacks from within and without. Such is also our case. This Sunday we will have a meeting with the leadership team in the church were we can review our goals, discuss our challenges, and pray together. Please pray for us. Meetings like these can be key in moving things forward but they are easily turned negative. our prayer is that the Lord would unite our hearts to His and to each other as we move forward. In a word - we need revival!
Another wonderful highlight was the first conference of the Calvary Chapel Churches in France. Pierre did an amazing job organizing and mediating but there was so much of a communal effort made on all levels. Each family cooked a meal for the whole group, the children were cared for by a team including Becky who taught a session, and Sophie helped as well as a special craft. Mike taught on peace, and Pierre taught on grace, Tonio led worship and everyone participated in many different ways. We had beautiful weather, renewed friendships, especially between our kids and the Flores teens. There was also needed time devoted to talking about some difficult issues but in the end we came home glad (and exhausted) for the time well spent. Than you for your prayers.
On the home front, we are praying that Abby and Kris will find a new apartment close to where we live. Dave and Sophie are doing well this year in school, both working on homework as I write. Becky is really enjoying her studies, using all she's learning almost daily but she could use prayer for strength to make it through. Mike was honored to be asked by CalvaryChapel.com to contribute a monthly article to the website. God bless you this month and may your Thanksgiving celebration be rich and joyful.
Mike and Becky
Last Sunday we had "Tapas and Testimonies" a really fund way to get to know each other!
This was taken at the CCF retreat during one of the sessions
Vanessa sharing at church
My Dear Friends,
This email is looong overdue and I ask your apologies for not getting this to you sooner!
My trip (our trip, since you were a big part of it) was amazing! From the moment I landed in Budapest, my friends Csicso and Detty were there to collect me at the airport and then make the trip to their home in Baja. Csicso was the first person Jim baptized when we moved to Baja in 2001. It was wonderful to see all the Lord continues to do in their lives, and their three sons. I was also able to meet with many of the people in the town that were a great part of our lives for those 7 yrs in Hungary. I saw answered prayers with marriages and children and just was overjoyed to be there. Looking forward to a time when Jim and I can go together.
After a week in Baja, I coordinated with my friend in Ukraine and her pastor’s wife to go to Mukachevo. Katya had been making the long drive back and forth from Ukraine to Hungary to get supplies, petrol, and transport people back and forth. Her faith and stamina amaze me! She and her friend met me in Hungary and made the long drive through Slovakian border and eventually to Mukachevo. We stopped at Tesco, a big shopping center, and did a lot of shopping. I have to say that being on the other end this time, rather than the missionary, it was SO exciting to just load up multiple carts with food, toys, etc. while in Baja, I also was able to buy so much gluten free items for my friend Vanessa serving in Mukachevo, buy a bunch of legos for the children who had fled their homes, and purchase petrol for the ride but also extra in the containers. So many of the stations in Ukraine have little to none. All of this was thanks to all of you and your generosity.
At the Slovakian border it was such a long wait, but apparently not as long as other trips they’ve made. So many checkpoints within the border. The fan was filled from the back and all the back seat too. The final guard wanted to know who the American was and then just pointed to one of my big suitcases and had me open it. When he saw it was filled with a ton of kids clothes he just waved his hand for me to close it back up. Whew! I had a bit of fear about having to pay a tax, especially on the brand new laptop for Vanessa. That was a blessing as her old one finally died a week after I left!
Once in Ukraine, I stayed at my friend’s apartment where she also had a family of three living in her family room. They have an incredible story of escaping from Mariupol. I recorded it and need to find someone local to edit so I can put it on fb. It’s quite long but wow, so humbling to sit in the same room as them and know all they endured. I also interviewed a few other people and those videos are on my fb page. I was able to walk most everywhere and go to help teach English classes with Vanessa, teach the Bible study for the kids program Royal Rangers, go to the church and help sort all the medical supplies brought over…cough syrups, bandaids, toothbrushes, ointments, Tylenol, etc. lots of vitamins and supplements too. Many of those items would go to the soldiers fighting on the front lines.
Despite all the atrocities and horrors of war, you see many worshipping and trusting the Lord. Due to many fleeing the eastern part of Ukraine and heading west where Mukachevo is, the church is overflowing. There aren’t even enough seats for everyone. One of the Sunday's we were inside for service and it was like packed sardines. The following Sunday, Pastor Joel held service outside which was nice for the kids to have a lot of place to run around. There is a certain look of sadness and fear in most peoples eyes there but also a glimmer of faith knowing they are safe where they are.
As many of you know by now, I had to leave week and half earlier than expected but it was only one day sooner than my planned time in Ukraine. Marla had given me airline funds to go to Italy the last week but that didn’t happen. It was quite interesting that I never purchased the ticket. The Lord knew I wasn’t going. 😍
It was truly a blessing and honor to go there and see and meet so many who have been uprooted and those who are opening their homes and hearts to take people in. It’s a joy to see how generous people are and the family of God comes together in times of need. I kept telling people when I was there that there are many who love them and gave generously towards all the necessities and fun things for them and their children.
The war is not over and people are tired and still scared. Please continue to pray for them…for the saved and those yet to be saved. For the children, the moms, the wives without their husbands and the husbands fighting for the freedom of their country.
Much love to all of you,
Cooking for the Children
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." – James 1:27
Sometimes individual stories get lost in the big story of what God is doing! So sharing today is about a particular cook—a very special kind of cook!
My name is Lizzie Longwe and I am one of the 44 cooks who help feed the children in SAFE’s 20 preschools. I wake up early to carry water and gather wood to cook the ground maize with soy, sugar and salt for the children’s phala (porridge). Knowing that I am helping to stop malnutrition in our village children brings me so much joy!
I live in Chipayika Village and have been a widow since 2007. Six grandchildren stay with me. This has not been easy. When there was a need for a cook for the little village children attending SAFE’s Muwowo Community Based Childcare Center, I didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity. The allowance that I get from my cooking for the CBCC (preschool) cares for most of the daily basic needs of my household. I love what I do! Each morning when I wake up, I don't need to be told what to do -- but go with joy to cook for the children.
Thank you for making stories like Lizzie’s possible!
The cost of fertilizer and other goods for our gogos in Malawi is skyrocketing due to the unrest in the world. Pray about being a part of our 2022 LOVE BOLD Malawi Walkabout to address some of the needs of the gogos and the children in SAFE’s preschools.
Click this link to learn more about walking or donating. https://gogograndmothers.com/walkabout
Thank you for the many ways you partner with us!
“For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” -- Psalm 107:9
In His love for the least,
Leslie — for our SAFE staff in Malawi
We hope you are doing well as Spring weather begins to warm the air and bring beauty in the form of flowers and leaves on the trees! You may remember from our last newsletter that we prayed about how we could help in this terrible humanitarian crisis sweeping throughout Europe. We felt the urge to do something, but what?
So many lives displaced, so many stories, so much suffering, yet the Lord allowed us, among so many others, to be a small part of the help. Physical support also brings spiritual benefit to the suffering when accompanied by the Gospel. One of the first things we did when we found out about this crisis was to contact our friends in Ukraine, offering to house people as needed. We also asked our church members to consider this prayerfully. Our first refugee house guest, Tanya, arrived this week. We are glad to be able to offer a drop of help in this ocean of need. Today we worked on the paperwork side of things. Legally she is allowed to be here; though Ukraine is not in the EU, some formalities must be done, which we've begun.
Going back to the time of our last newsletter, we were contacted by The Bridge, a church that wanted to invest through us in bringing help and hope to refugees. After much deliberation, Mike got a ticket to Eastern Germany to join pastor Kurt Ibbotson. During the trip, our church, Calvary Chapel Paris, got behind the project, offering prayer and support for the entire adventure. Once Mike arrived in Leipzig, Kurt and he drove to Krakow and then, every day, filled up the van with as many provisions as could fit in it and brought that to a Refugee Center at the Ukrainian border. They then would walk around, share with people, humanitarian workers, and refugees, and see who needed to be driven. They then would start the shuttling service of moving people from the Refugee Center to the airport or train station.
With Mike back home, Tanya safely settled in, and other families in the church hosting refugees, we realize we are not done. One of the more exciting first reactions this Sunday was the idea that missions trips of this nature, possibly to other parts of the world, may be on our horizons. It’s too soon to be sure how this will play out, but the seed has been planted. Please pray that God will lead us.
The Easter outreach is progressing nicely, which is incredible considering everything else! One team working on tracts and a poster with contact information, one team working on the choir, chocolates for the neighbors, matching outfits… it has been suitable for our little church! We are just a couple of weeks away. Please keep us in your prayers that people will get saved!
The worship band started working with a vocal coach – one of the co-leaders found a Christian who does vocal lessons and happens to have been on the French version of The Voice! It is such an answer to prayer to be growing in this area!
Please be in prayer for the Children’s ministry. With all that has been going on – with the pandemic, confinement, and now the war there is always a reason not to bring children to church. It makes it difficult for the children who come – they want to be with other kids! Let’s pray in all the kids back and then some!
The women’s group is doing well. This week we are going to enjoy fellowship at a café. One of the ladies is a student and must work on the weekends. She has been missing church and is sad about it – and we miss her too! So, we decided to go to her juice bar for fellowship right after she got out at five so that she could join us!
On a personal note, please pray as Sophie needs braces – so expensive. We need to get plane tickets soon to go to Mike’s brother’s wedding this July.
May God bless you this month!
Mike and Becky