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On one of my first trips to Haiti almost 18 years ago, I stayed in the town of “Les Cayes” in Haiti’s ‘deep south’, at a church-school-orphanage compound. While there, I met a few Haitians from Cape Haitian (Haiti’s extreme north) who spoke somewhat scornfully of the ‘southerners’ whom they considered less disciplined and generally less serious than their fellow northerners. And so I learned that Haiti, like the U.S. and France, has a “Mason-Dixon” line with significant cultural differences and regional rivalries between the north and the south. In any case, my most recent (Dec.4-10) teaching gig near Cape Haitian was with a very dedicated group of 17 students at “Seminaire Emmaus.”
As part of the Master’s program under the auspices of Indiana Wesleyan University, we went through the French version of Dr. Rich Ramsay’s “Christian World-view course.” We might have some theological differences with our Methodist brethren, but—unlike the partisans of certain theological liberalism of which most of our pre-Enlightenment Haitian students know little—there’s a solid basis for discussion with any who will submit to the authority of the Bible. As for the so-called ‘liberals’: their distorted view of the authority of Scripture is a deal-breaker which renders discussion impossible. In any case, we’re delighted to teach wherever they will have us and are scheduled to return Jan.22-28 for the second part of the course which will include Aline’s instruction on how to prepare the proper French dissertation necessary for obtaining their diplomas but a challenge for folk from an essentially oral culture.
Speaking of these students: we’re grateful to report that, thanks to an exceptional investment in our support account, we’re able to purchase some French study Bibles for worthy students in Haiti for whom this kind of investment—indispensable for any serious student of the Word—is beyond their modest means. We use this opportunity to thank our supporters for makings this possible, as well as for the purchase of our radio air-time and the evangelistic calendars we distribute to our French and Quebecois acquaintances each year—all of these expenditures are among the most ‘cost-effective’ means of advancing the Kingdom…
Finally, a gift made it possible for us to travel to Orange County, California (Dec.27-Jan.1) to see our pregnant daughter, son-in-law, and young grand-daughter who could not be with us this year for fear of the Florida-centered zika virus. We much enjoyed this time with the finest granddaughter in the world—save for all the others. The easy-going sociability of most California folks we met is a noticeable contrast with the more ‘in-your-face’ aggressiveness of our S. Florida experience. Still, the universal sin-nature is evident even in our determined, precocious 18 month-old granddaughter Elea who will no doubt rule a nation someday. She much reminds us of our older son at the same age—the quintessential strong-willed child. We reassured our pregnant daughter that you only get one like that. For the Lord doesn’t give you more than you can handle. As for so-called infantile “innocence”: a wise matron of a Carolina church once told us: “Anyone who doesn’t believe in original sin has obviously never kept the nursery.” Amen.
While Elea was napping, I cycled over to a nearby café with the intentions of writing-out some Christmas cards. But through a couple of providential encounters, I spent entire afternoons in deep conversation with a couple of 45 year-old searchers. So the cards didn’t go out t’il after New Year’s. But something very precious was shared… And I suppose the Good Samaritan who stopped on the Jericho road was probably late for his appointment—priorities oblige.
We’ll be driving up to Georgia soon to meet with a group from a Lutheran Seminary affiliated with a supporting church. Constant exposure to diverse theological viewpoints forces us to focus on the essential gospel message which has remained the same over millennia. God is Holy and we’re not, so we all need a Savior. We learn all about Him through the Bible. It’s that simple.
For blessed Christmas visit of our two sons and my 92 year old dad…
For a blessed visit to California with our daughter Anaïs and son-in-law Eric.
For Elea, the world’s most adorable granddaughter.
For Haitian teaching trip Jan.22-8.
For the spiritual welfare of our sons.
For an eventual replacement or our 21 year old car which died over the holidays.
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With Mrs. Peggy O. at rest home near Jackson, Ms.
“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)
Years ago, there was a shoe repairman in my home town who would inform his customers, including my mother, how many years, then months, then weeks etc. until his eagerly anticipated retirement. The big day finally arrived. He died that same day.
In October, after celebrating my 63rd birthday, someone asked me about retirement. I laughed. My dad is 92 and is still working, going to his job on his bicycle. What a grace to be useful into one’s old age. So as long as the Lord grants health, I’ll keep going… Any doubts were put to rest (pun intended) following a recent trip to visit supporting churches in Mississippi.
A day after being invited to speak at the mission weekend of a longtime supporting church in Louisville, Ms., I was contacted by supporters in Oxford, Ms. whose mission conference would ‘coincidentally’ be held that same weekend. So I flew into Jackson a day earlier, drove up to Oxford—a charming college town and home of ‘Ole Miss’—for the Saturday meeting. Fortunately, the “Rebels” were playing at LSU that weekend. In Oxford, as in much of the South, the fate of the local team is a major concern. I personally share George Will’s conviction that football embodies the two worst aspects of American life: violence and committee meetings.
Still, one tends to overlook the gridiron obsession in a region still blessed with manifest evidence of residual grace from the erstwhile Christian heritage. Indeed, it’s a pleasure even to drive in much of the South where motorists graciously yield the right of way and even strangers are genuinely friendly—a minor culture shock to one used to S. Florida, aka New York south.
After the encouraging morning worship at First Presbyterian church in Louisville–whose members include grandchildren of folks who began supporting our ministry in 1983–and the warm hospitality of Dr.+Mrs. Sam S., I drove the 100 miles down to the Jackson area to a rest-home where lives Mrs. Peggy O., a 94 year old widow, still lucid and zealous for the Lord’s work. What an inspiration! I arrived ‘coincidentally’ just as she was preparing to host her weekly meeting of some twenty fellow pensioners who’d normally be seeing a video about a Jew who found the Messiah. Instead, she asked if I could speak about Haiti as the fate of that country has been much in the news since the devastating passage of hurricane Matthew. Why is Haiti perpetually in such dire straits?
I shared what I knew explaining the Voodoo influence that dominates in Haiti and sharply conflicts with the Lord’s revealed prescriptions for getting along in a fallen world. Lasting improvement starts with observance of the Bible’s ‘cultural mandate’ (i.e. work, caring for the land, and raising ones family in the Faith). Alas, the Haitians (75% illiterate) desperately lack instruction in the Word. Consequently, faith in that spiritually receptive country remains a mile wide but an inch deep. Syncretism is pervasive. It’s said that Haiti is 20% Protestant, 80% Catholic and 100% Voodooist. Their worldview needs to change if there is to be any substantial and lasting improvement in the living conditions in that country. It starts by getting people into the Word… A major challenge is getting people from an essentially oral culture to acquire a love for reading. Many Haitians retain an impressive amount of what they hear (hence the importance of the radio ministry), but simply abhor reading.
Another domestic travel adventure centered around the quintessentially French game of “pétanque.” From Nov.11-13, around 1000 pétanque aficionados gathered at Amelia Island, Fl. for the tenth annual tournament which each year Frenchmen from all over the U.S. (more than half the participants are French) and at least seven foreign countries. They come to participate in this unofficial US championship. These included average amateur players but also big stars (the French say “les gros bras” or “the big arms”) of the pétanque world.
For the first time, my travel schedule allowed me to participate. I was teamed with my friend Gérard H. (a retired French restaurant owner) who lives in Florida. We did as well as expected against the lesser players before getting clobbered by the former World champion (36 year old Julien L.) and rival of last year’s winner, the incomparable Damien Hureau (38). Both came from France to play in this tournament and who naturally affronted each other in the finals—the match-up of the two best of the 180 “doublets” (two-man teams) present. I used the opportunity to distribute French gospels and an apologetic book (D. J. Kennedy’s “Pourquoi je crois”) and share a word of testimony with the other players before, after, and in between the competitions.
Aline accompanied me and her comprehensive ear was much solicited as usual by other French women (wives of some players etc.) who uncannily confide in my ever-so-discreet wife whose listening skills and counselling charisma are surely her most remarkable traits. In short, it was a good time, an opportunity to “réconcilier l’utile à l’agréable” (join what’s useful with what’s agreeable)—enjoy oneself while working for the advancement of the Kingdom. What more can one ask?
Marc and Gerard H. at Amelia Island tournament
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August was a relatively calm month for us this year with no scheduled trips (neither domestic nor international), and the cancelled visit of our daughter and granddaughter due to the presence of the zika virus here in S. Florida.
That meant a significant amount of time consecrated to the preparation of next semester’s Haitian Bible school courses—a chore made all the more agreeable thanks to the excellent teaching available on-line, mostly from the Anglo-Saxon world with its genius for practical application of which there’s so great a dearth in the French-speaking world.
We continue our Sunday radio interventions on a local Haitian broadcast. I also had a few dissertations to evaluate from another missionary whose teaching ministry in Africa includes both English and French-speaking students. In addition, there were the usual evangelistic meals–mostly with Aline’s gym contacts–and my weekly pétanque games with the mostly French colleagues including a couple whose life circumstances–illness and death–have made them suddenly more spiritually receptive.
There was an interesting article in the Aug.27-Sept.3 issue of the “Economist” related to the SETI (search for extra-terrestrial intelligence) called “
Hunting for Aliens: Proximate goals” which deals with the recent discovery of an approximately earth-sized planet orbiting around a ‘red-dwarf’ star a ‘mere’ four light years away from us. There’s some excitement in the astronomical community in its desperate attempt to determine if that planet (Proxima Centuri b) might be hospitable to sustain life. The fact that the planet is the correct size (and therefore probably rocky unlike the ‘gas giants’ such as Jupiter etc.) and orbits around a star (albeit rapidly) renews the hope of those who seek desperately for evidence that we’re not alone in the universe.
Meanwhile, the author of the article alludes only indirectly to the famous ‘anthropic principle’ which refers to the myriad conditions necessary for any celestial body to support life as we know it. In the words of the late Astrophysicist Richard Morris: “The real question is perhaps not whether life exists elsewhere in the universe; but why the conditions are so rigorously precise as to allow life to exist here on earth….One can imagine an infinite variety of universes and in most of them life would not be possible…”
Naturally the SETI project presupposes that given the right conditions, life will appear spontaneously and progress. But is this reasonable?
Already in the 17th century the Italian scientist Francesco Redi proved the fallacy of so-called “spontaneous generation”. Yet old world views die hard and it needed Louis Pasteur to re-confirm Redi’s conviction with 19th century experiments. So the idea of life arising spontaneously anywhere in the universe demands a leap of most-unscientifically founded faith.
The first law of biogenesis is that “life comes from life.” That it could arise spontaneously from inert matter is simply impossible –S. Miller’s experience notwithstanding.
So there are elements of the scientific community wants to believe and wants us believe in things that are simply impossible. While Alice of “Wonderland” fame admitted that there were days when she “believed in five impossible things before breakfast,” most of us are more inclined to follow the logic of William of Ockham and its more obvious conclusion that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” and the living forms He put on the earth.
Even Voltaire, that skeptical/ cynical 18th century French ‘philosophe’ hardly know for his piety had the good sense to adhere to at least adhere to a deist explanation for the origin of the universe and of life. He wrote:
“L’univers m’embarasse et je ne puis songer; (the univers overwhelms me and I can’t fathom)
Qu’il existe cette horloge qui n’ait point d’Horloger” (that a clock exists without a Clockmaker ).
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Aline and I have just returned from our traditional summer ministry month in the Languedoc region of France in a town near where her ailing parents live. I preached a series of sermons on marriage borrowing from my favorite sources of inspiration, especially pastors T.Keller and R.Rayburn Jr. This controversial subject is all-the-more relevant in France where they have even invented a kind of “marriage lite” called a “PAC” (Pacte civile de solidarité) which applies to both hetero and homosexual unions. All of France is reeling following the horrendous diabolical Bastille Day attack in Nice. Some think it might be just the beginning. For an enlightening analysis of the situation, see the video “France’s recipe for endless terror” at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6ePVxRL DM0.
Evangelicals represent less than 1% of the French population. The mainline “ERF” (Eglise Réformée de France) is largely “liberal” (“apostate” is perhaps more accurate). Its aging members have inherited residual protestant virtues if not saving grace, and have risen to the top of French society. Referred to as the HSP or “Haute société protestante,” they tend to be more industrious and ethical than most, though occasionally victims of their own success (cf. Dt.8:17). As Cotton Mather wrote: “Virtue hath begotten prosperity and the daughter hath devoured the mother…” On a more optimistic note, D. Broussard of
“Impact France” afﬁrms that the evangelical population of France has doubled in the past ten years… We’ve noticed that a disproportionate number of the new evangelicals we meet are from Protestant backgrounds–a telltale sign of the Lord’s faithfulness to His covenant people. In July, our smaller “Eglise Réformée Evangélique” which disappointed many evangelicals twenty years ago by voting to ordain women pastors, broke with the “EPU” (Eglise Protestante Unie which includes the ERF) over the latter’s decision to bless a homosexual ‘marriage’ in the Anduze temple. It was a hopeful sign…
A high point of our time in France was Tuesday evening July 11 at a concert organized by the combined choirs of the tiny Reformed Evangelical congregations around the same town of Anduze (pop.3000) whose protestant temple is the largest in France and whose summer population swells to around 30,000 including many foreign-especially Dutch-campers. The musical offerings were both profound and joyful with rich theological content as real Christian music should be. The “conseil presbytéral” (session) asked me to prepare a brief evangelistic message for the occasion. The inspiring music made it easy. With the idea that there might be some unregenerate among the nearly 200 in attendance, I borrowed from Pascal’s Pensées reminding all that it behooves us to seek God as one’s eternal destiny is at stake, and ﬁnished with the always reliable E.E. diagnostic questions about one’s assurance of salvation. We offered French copies of D.J. Kennedy’s apologetic “Pourquoi je crois” which were quickly snatched-up. After the concert, Aline and I were delighted to see two men in attendance with whom we’d studied at the seminary in Aix-en-Provence in the 1970’s and had not seen in decades. Gérard F.(59), whose wife and mother of their three boys died suddenly nine years ago, is the former editor of the denominational magazine.Gérard has Parkinson’s disease, and recently suffered an incapacitating stroke. He now lives in a retirement home in Anduze.
Charles N. was a pastor in nearby town of Vauvert when he lost his wife to cancer some 15 years ago leaving him with four adolescent children. He’s now a chaplain serving the hospitals in the Alès region. Both Gérard and Charles are solidly anchored in the Faith
unlike some of our former seminary colleagues who’ve capitulated to the inﬂuence of theological liberalism, as Charles lamented. I suggested to him that when confronting theological liberals who would undercut the authority of Scripture while pretending to speak about God, simply ask them to tell you just one true thing about God and/or Jesus
and how they know it? That usually leaves them speechless…
We were pleased to spend much quality time–usually meals–with Aline’s extended family members and especially our son Calix who lives near Nimes (an hour from where we were staying). Save for her younger brother Pascal (a pastor in the tiny but evangelical French Methodist church), her mother, and a niece, none are walking in the Faith. Aline’s mom and dad, unable to climb stairs have now moved out of their old ‘mas’ (southern French farm-house) where we stayed for one last time. Our time with Calix included a trip to the annual Avignon theatre festival where we saw a rendition of our son’s favorite, Rostand’s sublime “Cyrano de Bergerac,” and Molière’s “Le Malade Imaginaire”–both pure theatrical delights. In addition to the preaching, there were many occasions to share the faith–usually around the table at the drawn-out meals for which the French are famous and which announce the eternal wedding banquet of the Lamb for whom we work to see that all His invitations are delivered. There will have to be some French there too. Who else would you want to do the cooking?
Blessings, Marc and Aline
“Selfie” at Anduze with Charles and Gerard Calix +Aline in Avignon
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“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations…” Deut. 32:7
It was stifling hot in Lomé, Togo, a small West African country (pop.5 million) sandwiched between Ghana and Benin) where I arrived on April 22 for the second part of a church history course we’d started last year and had to abandon at the 14th century for lack of time…
I stayed at the Wycliffe mission center again this year which is equipped with fans which do little more than agitate the humid air. So even after the long flight (via N.Y. and Ghana), sleep eluded me, and I considered that insomnia might be God’s way of encouraging my otherwise tepid prayer life…
Fortunately, there was a weekend to recover before the start of the course at the ACDI (“Alliance Chrétienne pour le Développement Intérgral”) center on Monday with a group of 15 pastors who arrived mostly on motorbikes from various parts of the country. These intrepid brothers slept on the hard tile floor on the balcony adjacent to the classroom as they do several times each year when they come to the capital for classes. That’s motivation.
There’s an irony—not lost on these African students—about studying church history, with its early center of action in western Europe where the Faith has all but disappeared in the 21st century. The church was basically non-existent in sub-Saharan Africa until the 19th century and now the center of Christendom is probably closer to Nairobi than to London. Go figure.
Still, Africans and others do well to learn from the 4th century Arian controversy with Athanasius’ heroic efforts to defend orthodoxy; from the Pelagian heresy with its challenge to the quintessential doctrine of original sin; from the heroic efforts of the likes of Wycliffe, Hus and Tyandale to get the Bible into the hands of the people in their native language; from the struggles of Martin Luther and his rediscovery of the doctrines of grace leading to the Reformation; and especially from the origin of so-called liberalism with its anti-supernatural presuppositions which disparage the verbal bridge across the chasm from the inﬁnite God to ﬁnite man, then pretends to cross the gulf as if the bridge were still there! That’s more magic than theology. One can only pray that these lessons from the past might serve as a warning for our African brethren lest they repeat the same mistakes we’ve made in the West.
The way home from Togo included a two-hour stop in Niamey, Niger followed by a shivering 9 hour layover at the chilly CDG airport in Paris; then finally a 9.5 hour flight to Miami squeezed in between two “Sumo wrestlers” in a seat that would leave no extra room for an anorexic fashion model. How I envy anyone who can sleep on a plane!
Back in S. Florida, we’re finishing-up the academic year with the Haitian Bible school and continuing our Sunday PM radio spots on the Haitian radio—a minimal effort yielding disproportionate returns in feedback from the listeners… Aline maintains that radio is the most cost-effective part of our ministry. She’s probably right.
My wife’s unofficial counselling ministry continues to develop amongst her casual gym contacts usually leading to prolonged evangelistic meals chez Mailloux where the blood sugar runs high and the conversation runs deep… If we learned anything from Martin Luther (via Francis Schaeffer) it was never to underestimate the influence of gastronomy on the soul. How gracious of the Lord to allow us to combine the agreeable with the useful…
Our summer plans include a few sermons to prepare for our annual stint filling-in for a vacationing French pastor of the Eglise Réformée Evangélique of Anduze (in the Languedoc region) which providentially allows us to interact with Aline’s family, our son Calix, and a host of friends and acquaintances including the small, mostly elderly group of believers in the church. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’ll have numerous French copies of Dr. Kennedy’s apologetic volume “Pourquoi je crois” to distribute. May they serve to strengthen the feeble churches—tiny oases in Europe’s spiritual desert!
Aline’s aging parents are ailing and we probably won’t see her dad again which matters not so long as all are present and accounted for around the table of the Lamb at the Celestial Feast (Rev.19:9). It’s our most pressing concern—indeed the only imperative—that those we love and those elect whom Providence puts on our path be there on the Great Day.
Praise: 1-for the completion of another academic year with the local Haitian Bible school. 2-F our continued health and the Lord’s provision for our ministry. 3-For the encouraging receptiveness of our African and Haitian students.
Supplication: 1- For continued health and provision for our work. 2-For the spiritual welfare of our entire family, especially our sons.
3-For a blessed ministry in France (June 25-July 26).
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Pastor Jean Paul with Marc and some of the Reformation Hope students
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15
I’ve made two teaching trips to Haiti since our last letter including one in February (21-27) to the “Reformation Hope” center at “La Plaine”, a congested neighborhood just north of Port-au-Prince. With 22 eager Haitian students, we spent 6+ hours/day going through the so-called ‘historical books’ from Joshua to Esther. It was exhausting but a pleasure working with such obviously committed students. It was my first visit to that mission started by Pastor Jean Jacob Paul, one of six surviving children of a family of twelve, who was adopted by a Christian couple from N.Y. when he was nine, became an engineer in San Diego before returning to Haiti where he works in difficult conditions. His ministry—in addition to preaching and teaching—includes a multitude of chores like counselling, as well as overseeing the various construction projects being sponsored by his mostly American supporters. Jean Paul’s cell phone would ring incessantly each day as he drove me back to the hotel where I stayed.
It’s a similar situation with Esaie E. in Gonaives (110 miles north of PAP) where I taught from March 20-26 and for Dony S. down in Jérémie in the southern part of the country where I taught last April. Both Dony and Esaie are busy with everything from school building projects to new church plants as well as the administration of existing works, visiting medical and construction teams etc. A Haitian pastor must be a visionary as well as an administrator as it seems the whole community looks towards him for everything from spiritual counsel to financial aid and every other kind of help. Heroic efforts are required of the aforementioned brothers.
Still, one must exercise prudence and discernment in ministry in Haiti where there are legions of unscrupulous predators seeking to take advantage of any naïve, comparatively wealthy American “vache blanche à traire” (white cow to milk). It’s easy to foster a spirit of dependence where many survive on funds transferred by relatives in the U.S. and Canada.
Alas, ‘rugged individualism’—on the wane in our increasingly socialist country—has never existed in Haiti where both the unemployment and illiteracy rate hover around 75%. The few who have full-time jobs earn only a pittance (less than $2./day). Worse yet is the generally devalued work ethic, partly a result of the residual influence of slavery of which their ancestors were victims. Ironically, there are thousands of de facto slave children (called ‘restaveks’) in Haiti who do much of the menial labor such as fetching firewood and water and washing clothes in distant and often polluted streams.
[Unlike the sterile Palestinian desert which industrious Israelis have caused to flourish, Haiti is blessed with mostly fertile soil and a year-round growing season and was once incredibly prosperous with a GDP superior to that of the 13 American colonies at the end of the 18th century! But the wealth (from sugar cane, coffee, indigo etc.) of this erstwhile “Pearle des Antilles” was shamefully produced on the backs of slaves. What’s more, the French exacted crippling payments from the fledgling new Haitian Republic throughout the 19th century.] Equally discouraging is the ubiquitous corruption which stifles economic initiative and which only a spiritual revival can eradicate. Even badly needed medical aid often doesn’t get into the country without the requisite bribes paid to customs officials…
Back from Haiti, I left the next day (March 28) for the annual “Twin Lakes” pastor’s conference near Jackson, Mississippi. It was a refreshing time of fellowship with committed brethren and inspiring teaching. This trip included brief visits to supporting churches in Tupelo and Louisville. [Speeding through the wide open Mississippi countryside on deserted four lane-highways, I was overwhelmed with the contrast from congested Haiti where even a short trip is arduous and takes forever over precarious unpaved donkey trails. Equally contrasting is the residual Christian influence which still looms large in the form of subsisting southern graciousness which makes even driving in the South mostly agreeable when compared to cosmopolitan S. Florida which is more abrasive, like New York City—albeit with palm trees.
Meanwhile, back in the Sunshine State, Aline and I continue to plow through the reading and noting of some 56 masters’ dissertations from the course we taught under the auspices of IWU back in January. One learns much reading the assignments on one of two questions: “Does respect for biblical economic principles guarantee the development of a country?” OR, “What are the major obstacles to the application of the biblical ‘cultural mandate’ in Haiti?” We’re encouraged to see the progress as some have come to understand the importance of sanctified individual initiative to improve the lot of their country. Others continue to accuse corrupt government for all their woes. Sound familiar? Perhaps we get the government we deserve?
Praise: For the aforementioned teaching experiences.
For our continued good health and travelling mercies.
For the manifest progress of our students whose minds are gradually transformed by the Word.
Pray: For my forthcoming teaching trip (church history, part 2) to Togo (April 21-31).
For the spiritual welfare of both our sons, Calix (in France) and Justin (in the Dominican Republic)
For the psychic energy and lucidity for both Aline and myself for fairly grading the dissertations and for Aline’s ever-active albeit informal counselling ministry.
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“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith and not of yourselves. It is not by works lest any man should boast…”Ephesians 2:8-9
One of my closer “pétanque” buddies Herb D. died quite suddenly just before Christmas. Herb was Jewish. I’d spoken to him periodically about Yeshua over the ten years that I knew him but to no avail—apparently.
A personable fellow with an ebullient personality, he was admirably devoted to Paula—his wife of 63 years—and generous with all. But he was a sinner like all of us and in need of a Savior. At the memorial service, the presiding rabbi—after reading the requisite ritual prayers (Psalm 15 etc.)—perfunctorily suggested that Herb was “gathered unto his people” like the patriarchs (Gen.25:8; 17; 35:29;49:33). Funeral services without Jesus’ assurances [of resurrection] are disconcerting at best…
From Jan.18-30 Aline and I did some team teaching together in Haiti… for the Masters’ program of Indiana Wesleyan University.
These courses are held at the Baptist Haiti Mission at Fermathe, an inspiring, refreshingly cool venue at 1400m (ca.4200ft.) in the hills above Port-au-Prince. We had 56 eager, qualified, and appreciative students (including several doctors and lawyers) in the beautiful mountains. Nice work if you can get it…
The first week Aline took them through the arcane complexities of a proper French dissertation. The second week, I explained what a biblical worldview or Weltanschauung looks like, elaborating from Dr. Rich Ramsay’s “Christian World view” course.
Sitting-in on Aline’s classes during the first week, I was impressed to consider my diminutive wife’s imposing authority even, in front some of the best students in Haiti. She was well-respected. Now the ‘fun’ of reading and noting 56 theses begins…
Though Haitians tend to think more like Africans than Frenchmen, the educated minority with whom we’re dealing has inherited—with the language—some of the French academic tradition. Hence the challenge for visiting American professors to bridge the cultural communication gap, made all the more difficult when teaching through a translator. That’s surely part of the reason for our vocation…
We’re encouraged by the academic progress of our students. More preoccupying was the semi-Pelagian theology of some of the students’ discourses on the question: “Les bonnes oeuvres contributent-elles au salut?” (Do good works contribute to one’s salvation?). A little revision using the simple diagnostic questions from the “Evangelism Explosion” method goes far in correcting some non-biblical notions, even among the Haitian Christian intellectual elite.
The next teaching trip to Haiti (without Aline) is scheduled for Feb.21-27 near Port-au-Prince (at sea-level, alas) at the PCA’s “Reformation Hope” ministry with Haitian brother Jean Paul. We pray that the political situation will be calm as Haiti will be without a duly elected President until at least April 24.
While we were in Haiti, a vacationing Franco-American brother (Alan B.) from a supporting church in Delaware did an excellent job filling-in for me, doing the daily radio meditations in Florida. This effort touches a significant section of the Haitian community around the country and beyond (including Haiti itself) as we learned via the on-line listeners who’ve phoned-in from places like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and even Dallas. It was good for the listeners to hear a different accent, and learn from someone else’s experience with the same Savior. Merci Alan!
We had a visit from another member of the French-speaking ministry, Japanese brother Satochi K. (temporarily in the US) who we met in W. Africa ten years ago and who now ministers in the cooler climate (both literally and spiritually) of Canada with my Quebecois “cousins.”
Finally, we cherish your prayers for all the “chance” encounters we’ll be making in our forthcoming travels. Indeed, we consider any significantly lengthy tête-à- tête as a providentially arranged opportunity to share something of the good news. Pray that our “speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt so that we may know how to answer each one” (Col.4:6).
A sincere word of thanks to all associated with us in this ministry.
In His service,
Marc + Aline
1-For continued good health; the Lord’s continued provision for our work.
2-For encouraging feedback from the radio ministry.
3-For our magnificent grand-daughter Elea (9 months), the finest (in a fallen world) of all possible babies!
1-For the Lord’s hand to be on us during forthcoming ministry trips to unstable Haiti (Feb.21-27; March 20-26) and to Togo (April 21-29) as well as on visits to supporting churches in the US (Feb.19-20, March 11-13, 27-30).
2-For the effective use of our radio ministry time.
3-For the spiritual welfare of our older son Calix in France.
4-For the Lord’s continued provision for our work including health and finances.