The light shines in the darkness

We arrived safely back in Wi on Sunday evening, and awoke to 4 inches of fresh snow Monday morning, causing most of us on the team to long to return to France.

Not just for the weather, the sights, the food ..... we long to return because we love the French people and the need for the Gospel in France is huge.

As I was going through my photos, one stands out.

It's a picture of a beacon of light in the darkness of Paris.  It reminds me of the church building we labored to help build.

For sure, the building is not the beacon, but the people who will gather there to worship Jesus are.

We continue to pray for the ministry of 
Église Protestante Baptiste de Pontault-Combault: for pastors Manu, Mickey & Rich and for the members of this growing family whose desire is to see the light of Christ spread across all of France!

We end this blog with a few quotes from our hosts:

 

"I was really touched, encouraged by you singing in French on Sunday morn. I wish you could have seen the reactions that I saw from the back of the church. The man next to me let out a small gasp and said, "Oh, what a surpise" when he heard you start singing. He listened intently the whole time and clapped so hard at the end saying how wonder that was. Another lady looked back at me with a huge grin that said, "they are singing in French!!!" and then after the song she shot me another big smile saying how well you all did. I saw the peoples' heads turn and listen in as, to their surprise, they heard you singing their language! It really touched them and me. Thanks for bridging the gap to bless them...Thank you."
 

"Just thinking how amazing it was to have you all here serving in our church.  When I say our Church I mean the church of Christ.  His body of believers. The cool part is that Christ's body has no limits, no cultural barriers, no language barriers, we are all one in Him!  Please let each and every one on the team know that I have been so touched by their efforts their amazing attitudes and dedication to the project.  People of the church continue to thank me for getting you all here.  But each time I am truly reminded that it was God who put this team together.  It was God who placed it on their hearts, and I thank you all for your obedience to His call.  .... If anyone doubts your intentions or the "authenticity"of this trip, you can without a doubt say that you were the hands and feet of The Lord Jesus Christ.  That you participated in the great work that God is doing in France and you have helped to enable French people to continue to invite their friends, family, neighbors, to a place where the truth can be shared and where relationships are being built to lead and welcome others to the family if God!"

One day more

so I'm sitting in the room next to the router in the new building at the completion of our final day of this mission trip.

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I could not be more proud of the effort and the work that our team has put in!

This morning we were working on drywall and drop ceilings in what was considered the "bonus  room" - the room that we were not expected to get to but would be considered icing on the cake

the final ? room

the final ? room

We finished THAT room at 11 am and heard the refrain we have come to love: Ron K yelling out, "nailed it!"

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So what did we do next? Did we simply call it a day, kick up our feet and relax? No! 

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The team set the hearts to "serve" and completed yet another room and a whole bunch of drywalling that had yet to be done. Wow! 

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When we reached 4 PM, there was literally no more work we would be able to do at the site.

There is certainly much much more to be done before the building is 100% usable but as far as work that we would be able to do nothing else remain.

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Finally we walked through the building along with Pastor Manu and prayed for the ministries and staff of this quickly growing church. 

Tonight we will share one last meal together as a team and then spend some time with our host families, then bright and early (9:15) we will gather to head to the airport to fly home.

Thank you all for your prayers and support of us as we've been on this mission trip. 

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In the words of Pastor Brian, "the work here is not done, it has just begun…"

God is doing a work here and we have been humbled and honored to join Him in what He is doing. Please continue to pray for the church here at Ponto-Combault as well as the growth of the church in France. 

A beintôt! 

Work day #4

This posting is a bit later than we normally post. So please forgive me.

Workday number four was extremely productive and we finished off a large area of the church that the church had hoped we would possibly finish during our time here.

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Then we were on to working on drop ceilings and drywall in the new classroom area - Areas that the church didn't know if we would get to, but are delighted that we were able to begin. 

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And not only begin, we were able to finish off the drop ceilings into of the rooms by the time our workday ended yesterday!

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Saturday we will work side-by-side with our French brothers and sisters as they lend a hand in seeing their new facility built too. Saturdays are generally the only free day French members of the church have to do construction so much of this week has been just our Woodlands team doing construction with a few other French brothers and sisters being able to lend a hand.

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We have also been blessed with the presence of a woman from Germany as well as woman from Russia who were here to lend a hand. 

while we look forward to coming home tomorrow, there is a sense in which we wish we could stay and see the project through to completion. Not only to completion, but to be able to see men and women from every tribe and nation worshiping here as well. 

you can see in the picture below how very little light we have to work with in this new section.

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please continue to pray for us: for strength, energy, graciousness, patience, and to finish strong.

and finally, we can now with truthfulness say that we put blood, sweat, and tears into this project.

Don't worry... everyone's totally fine. Just minor scratches, scrapes, and droplets. 

Jason before 

Jason before 

we look forward to joining our US families late tomorrow evening.

Jason after 

Jason after 

Work day #3

After a long day yesterday, it was a bit difficult to get up this morning, but the team was incredibly cheerful as they arrived at the work site. 

Everyone brought his/her best and we even got more accomplished today than we thought we would have.

Elijah installing drop ceiling grid work 

Elijah installing drop ceiling grid work 

At noon Pastor Doug and Pastor Brian and Elijah met with the pastoral staff from our French church. We discussed different ministry questions that growing churches wrestle with, as well as what it looks like for a growing church to remain faithful and fruitful. 

This afternoon Barb and Julie used their salon skills to give haircuts and nail treatments to some missionary women whose finances have not allowed them such. What a blessing to these women to have our team serve them in this way.

We also had a great time of encouraging one another at a group "trip debrief" session and many shared lessons we've learned from God and ways we've seen Him at work while here.

In my last post I mentioned Fred.

Before coming to know the Lord, Fred was often deep in trouble for graffiti tagging that he did around the area. But his life has been completely changed by Jesus. Here is a picture of his van which sits outside the new church when he comes to help.

"Who saves? Jesus Christ" 

"Who saves? Jesus Christ" 

it's a message that is not just something simply painted on the side of the van, but a truth that is beginning to be recognized and embraced more and more in this area. 

How humbling that God is allowing us to be a part of what he is doing here in France!

Some of out fellow workers from the French church. Fred is in the middle.

Some of out fellow workers from the French church. Fred is in the middle.

Our team & Phillip (the foreman) plus a few other volunteer workers

Our team & Phillip (the foreman) plus a few other volunteer workers

Culture Day

Today was the team's culture day. We visited the heart of Paris and got to experience with all 5 senses this major world city that is right at the doorstep of the church we are serving.

Having this day as a team highlights the importance and immediacy of our work. 

We return to work tomorrow with fresh motivation to do as much as we can in our time remaining. 

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Work Day 2

Greetings from France. 

First off, please forgive capitalization errors and blurry photos - this is all being uploaded via an iPhone... And honestly were more concerned with the quality of the work we're doing at the church site.

Today was another good, hard, 10-hour work day, but a few comments are worth sharing:

We have been thanked repeatedly for both the diligence of our work and it's quality. Apart from simply blessing this local church with our efforts, they have thanked us that our work enables them to more effectively share the Gospel rather than be focused on, or spend resources on hiring workers to build.

The church we're serving is the only Protestant church in an area of 100,000 people and has grown incredibly by Gods grace. 

We heard a story tonight from our hosts about a man named Fred who not only came to faith through the building project, but is himself daily giving of his extra time to work alongside us to make sure more people have a place to hear of the great mercy of Jesus. And not only to hear, but to grow and be equipped to share their faith.

One team member summed up so well today why our work here is so important.

She said - We are the ones who are tilling the ground so that the seeds of the Gospel can be planted and watered. 

And in response, our host church has told us over and again that we are a huge blessing and a part of how God is building His kingdom in France - thanking us for displaying hearts of servants.

Friends and family, as a pastor, I am so humbly proud of how our team has consistently viewed each moment of our trip as a mission to spread the Gospel in a very spiritually dark nation - and never as a vacation. Sadly, some people think that missions is only to those who live in extreme physical poverty.

The team are being poured out as an offering, with sweat, some tears and are working their tails off - always with Jesus as the Center, seeking only for Him to be glorified.

For the team, 

Doug

"Made in France" 

"Made in France" 

Work Day #1

bonjour tout le monde! (Hello everyone!)

just finished our first work day, and already two unions have formed: the maintenance crew (Julie, Barb & Stacy) led the unionization charge and were quickly followed by the Union of Ron - Local 120.. (Sorry small inside joke)

We began the day by navigating the streets of Ponto to our work site by 8:30 am and had a time of devotions and then got to work. 

we spent much of the day learning the French method of drywalling and hanging drop ceilings.  

It was hard work and we had a blast!  Everyone consistently asked how to be of best use. 

So many of our team stepped up to the plate bringing their expertise, humor and great leadership.

we completed work at 7 pm and half the team headed to join the Hendriksons for dinner while the rest of us ate with our host families.

At one point during the day, another team member and I were struck by the fact that just a few short years ago, had anyone told him he would be in France on a mission team building a church he would laughed at them and told them they were a fool. 

And now here he is, using God's giftings and a willing heart to build a facility where many more people will come to know the grace and mercy of God.

I'm sure something got in my eyes, because they immediately started watering - maybe it was a glimpse and awesome reminder of the power of the Gospel to change hearts and lives.

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Sunday

This morning began by attending both church services (9:30 and 11:30) at church with team Woodlands sharing two songs during services- one French song (Dieu, Ma Prioritè) as well as How Great is Our God. We finished that song with the chorus in French and it as a delight to have the church join us in singing. What a joy and glimpse of heaven to worship at a church with 29 nations represented! It was also pretty sweet to recognize some songs melodies but sung in French.

second service was so full that about a dozen people did not have seats and stood at the back. Our team living out of "4th place" gladly left their seats so others could sit. Way to go team!! 

 

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After another wonderful French lunch, Pastor Manu spoke to us about the history of the Church in France as well as the history of the church we are serving.

Genesis and Ger practice their French outside

Genesis and Ger practice their French outside

As he spoke, two things stood out to me (Doug) - in churches we must remember 

1: that small churches are not necessarily more mature, nor are bigger churches spiritually shallow.

2. Churches need to invest in the youth of their churches not just in teaching, but involving them in ministry. They are not simply the church of tomorrow, but they are the church of today; uniquely positioned to share.  their faith with their peers and minister to the church Body today.

Afterward went spent our sabbath day visiting the Parc Floral de Paris and the Chateaux Vicennes.

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We opted to eat dinner at a local cafe and some were brave enough to try escargot thanks to an order by Jason.

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With full stomachs and fuller hearts we look forward to diving into construction tomorrow

Grace and peace to you all...

Saturday

after arriving in France and getting our rental cars we drove to our host church's current building and had a wonderfully French lunch. 

Then it was off to wander the streets of "Ponto" praying for God to be at work and  handing out flyers inviting people to check out the church and offer them a free Bible.  

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Next we all pretty much collapsed from exhaustion

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After this we enjoyed another amazing meal provided by our French hosts...

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...and then joined the youth ministry for their fence where we learned one another's names, sang songs together and had some of our younger people share with them just prior to Rich's message. After that we all headed to our host families homes for the night.

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Tomorrow we will attend church and sing a song as a team. Continue to pray for us!

Nous arrivons!

we have arrived safe and sound and have quite a wonderful chauffeur. Yes he's really driving in France!

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more updates later today

And away we go!

We awoke to icy roads and gently falling snow- not exactly what you're hoping for in early April!

But our excited team met, prayed, and got on the road. 

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After picking up Sydney in Madison and dodging Illinois construction we arrived at OHare.

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we will board in about an hour. Keep us in your prayers.

au revoir!

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ps- to comment on any of our blogs click that entry's title then scroll to the bottom

Bonjour Team France!

The France Team had its second meeting tonight and is pictured below.  Please pray for us as we prepare to serve in Pontault-Combault!

TEAM FRANCE (L-R): Standing: Gerry Walczak, Mark Dumke, Tracy Aldrich, Jason Heese, Stacy Bronk, Amanda Schmude, Genesis Yang, Joel Breitzman, Julie Breitzman, Sydney Warrenburg (via Skype) Tom Warrenburg, Barb Engle. Kneeling: Doug Allord (via Photoshop), Ron Kaminiski, Brian Berg, Elijah Allord, Ger Yang.

TEAM FRANCE (L-R):
Standing: Gerry Walczak, Mark Dumke, Tracy Aldrich, Jason Heese, Stacy Bronk, Amanda Schmude, Genesis Yang, Joel Breitzman, Julie Breitzman, Sydney Warrenburg (via Skype) Tom Warrenburg, Barb Engle.
Kneeling: Doug Allord (via Photoshop), Ron Kaminiski, Brian Berg, Elijah Allord, Ger Yang.

If you'd like an easy way to remind yourself to pray for us and for France, you can click to download a wallpaper for your mobile phone from below.

France 2014 Construction Trip

April 4th-13th, a team from Woodlands is planning to head to Pontault-Combault, France (18 miles East of Paris) to work with Église Protestante Baptiste de Pontault-Combault as they continue remodeling a warehouse for their new facilities. 

Check out the video below to hear who they are and what God is doing!

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190 Hoover Ave, Plover Wi 54467 (715-341-0800)