Marc Mailloux's Blog


Incident at Générargues Temple August 2019
September 3, 2019, 2:58 pm
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Temple de Generargues

We had just finished Sunday morning worship at the protestant “temple” (as reformed churches are called in France) in the Cévénole village of Générargues. There were about 100 people in attendance including 70 conspicuously taller, mostly blond, Dutch tourists who vacation in this region in the summer. My text for this Sunday (Aug.4) was I Peter 3:15 about the importance of defending the faith—a particularly pertinent verse in this overwhelmingly secular nation where—unlike the US and most places I travel to—one can hardly find the gospel on the radio. We had much prayed about this effort.

Naturally, the gist of the message was about being prepared for the responsibility we have as Christians to share the good news with anyone who would question us about our faith. For the occasion, we brought a stack of Dr. Kennedy’s book “Pourquoi je crois” (Why I believe) to offer the parishioners. I concluded with a brief allusion to a principle found in French, German and Andorran law according to which one can be indicted for “non-assistance à personne en danger” (not helping one in danger). It behooves us to share the gospel with the lost lest they risk the judgement of a holy God and we be guilty of the aforementioned offense. For who is more in danger than those without the Savior?

After the benediction and final hymn, I made my way to the exit to greet the departing faithful where I was verbally assailed for five solid minutes in the most acerbic manner by Mr. C., a seventy year old disgruntled Parisian who viciously berated me for my “narrow-minded American fundamentalist teaching” and “retrograde theology” with its implicit conviction that salvation is only through Jesus. It seems he was particularly offended by my ‘literalist’ invocation of John 14:6 “…No man comes to the Father but through me…”

Perhaps more revealing than Mr. C’s “humanist” (his own word) theology was the anger in his scathing attack as he repeatedly called me an “impostor” and a “dangerous and divisive individual.” He even criticized me for having publicly thanked a local evangelical group who had graciously renovated the church building, scornfully calling them a “sect.” Providentially, the Lord accorded me the grace to say nothing throughout his vicious diatribe allowing him to expel all his vitriol. “Don’t answer a fool according to his folly…” Prov.26:4. That was a personal victory for me.

More distressing is the fact that Mr. C. who lives in the French capital but has a vacation home here and who made no effort to hide his antiAmerican sentiments—is officially a member of the local church council! After he finished disparaging my evangelical views (including the ‘retrograde’ theology of Calvin), he proceeded to harangue the few French parishioners in the church assuring them that he was “agrégé” (has a fancy diploma) implying that he’s an authority who knows that they should not give heed to my outdated reformed evangelical views.

Finally, I asked one of the Dutch tourists whose French was limited but had the Dutch translation of my sermon if its words had not offended him. He replied: “Sir, if you had preached that same sermon in our church in Holland, the assembly would have stood up and applauded.”

We gave 92 year old Anne a ride home after the worship. She’s a devout sister who can barely walk but is still lucid. She expressed pity for this angry man who obviously is not at peace with God, she said, concluding that we needed to pray for him. Amen. Later during the week, I received phone calls and words of encouragement at the Wednesday church picnic from several devoted believers apologizing for the incident and the views of the pompous vociferous fellow who has a reputation for the strident and vigorous promotion of his unorthodox views. At the end of the picnic (also attended by Mr. C.) I announced the Monday night showing of a video (the French version of “God is not Dead”) as part of an evangelistic outreach. We later learned that Mr. C. did everything he could to dissuade folks from attending!

What’s the point in my telling you this? It’s just a reminder of the battle that goes on in the church for the allegiance of the faithful. Alas, the new pastor who will take over in September favors of homosexual marriage etc. and is hardly sympathetic to traditional reformed views.

One imagines that there will be some interesting discussions during the forthcoming church council meetings between the ‘liberal’ (not to say apostate) elements and the remaining evangelical council members who need our prayers. The plot thickens. The battle rages…

blessings,

Marc+Aline



The lessons of His-story
September 3, 2019, 2:41 pm
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Marc+Aline

Since our last letter, I made another trip to the Dominican Republic for a group of 25 French-speaking Haitian immigrant students in Santo Domingo. They dwell in a curious cultural mixture as they speak Creole as their mother tongue, were educated in French, and now live in a Spanish speaking country. A few are even learning English.

These students have day jobs so the classes are held in the evenings from six to nine and on Sunday afternoon. We’re studying church history at the moment and covered the 6th to the 16th centuries during this session (June 19-24). It was an occasion to remind them that, though much maligned, this period saw the birth of universities, hospitals and many charitable organizations (the Beguines, the Knights Templar etc.) and religious orders not to mention the likes of spiritual giants such as Bernard de Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, and Raymon Llull (missionary to N. African Moslems), Thomas Aquinas and others who blessed the world in many ways. Alas, modern revisionism gives overwhelmingly bad press to the Middle Ages.

Most of our students knew little of European history or geography. What’s more, they’re considerably less analytical than the French and don’t relate to the arcane complexities of the medieval Christological controversies such as monophysitism and monothelitism etc. Likewise, it took some explanation to clarify the reasons for the divisions between Rome and Byzantium. But we got there…

After considering the great contributions of the likes of Pierre Waldo, J. Wycliffe, J. Huss and G. Savonarola, we finished the week at the Reformation and capped-off the Sunday session with a video: the French version of Eric Till’s excellent film “Luther.” Apparently more books have been written on the German Reformer than anyone in history, save for Jesus Himself. Consequently, we do well to learn what we can about the man who so greatly impacted the church and our western civilization.

Overall, the theme of this week of Church history was a reminder of how blessed we are to possess Bibles, the ignorance of which allowed so many erroneous ideas and false doctrines to infest the Church. Hopefully this motivates them to study the Word more assiduously. To that end, they’re thankful for the few French study Bibles we distribute at each session to the more serious students. We give them to those who’ve earned the best grades on their assignments…

After a week of study about the Western church, the students were perplexed by the large scale modern rejection of the Faith which had so clearly been the basis for Europe’s erstwhile superiority as well as the Light of the World! Why have so many rejected that which made them great, one student asked?

The short answer, I told them, was the sin of complacency and man’s inability to learn from the past. Think of the Book of Judges with its cyclical theme of apostasy, repentance and deliverance. For more elaboration, they’ll have to wait until the last part of the course which is scheduled for September when we’ll take on the so-called “Enlightenment” whose repercussions have largely bypassed the Haitians and Africans who have gone from an animist culture to one influenced by the Bible (syncretism notwithstanding) while foregoing the likes of Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and eventually liberal “theology.” Stay tuned…

While I was away in the Dominican Republic and then at the PCA’s General Assembly in Dallas (June 25-8), Aline was pleased to host daughter Anais and our three granddaughters (Elea 4, Heidi 2, and Eva 11 months) from California while their father Eric—who travels much for his job—was overseas. I only got to stay with them for a couple of days but that was enough to renew my respect for the tremendous vocation that is motherhood. Up every day at 5AM (if they sleep through the night) and going non-stop until all collapse of exhaustion at around 8:30PM. Whew!

We anticipate with both fear and delight their return in September as once again they will stay with us for ten days while their parents will be away on a business trip. On our calendar, for the dates Sept.8-20, is written “Viking Invasion” (son in law Eric is of Scandinavian origin). Aline has given me strict orders not to have any other plans during those dates!

Meanwhile, she and I are scheduled to return to the spiritual desert of the western world (France) from July 26 to August 27 for our annual summer ministry stint in a church in Aline’s home area. The Haitian students found it incredible that some churches in France close their doors in July and/or August—not even a Sunday worship service as there’s no one around to preside nor enough faithful to attend! Hence our participation, organizing the worship and preaching for a smattering of Huguenot descendants—the Lord’s faithful remnant—near Aline’s home town. We look forward to the annual change of pace and different kind of challenge and thank those of you who make it possible…

blessings,

Marc+Aline

 



Burkina Faso: land of the people of integrity
May 30, 2019, 1:40 pm
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I arrived in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on April 13 on an Air France flight from Paris. Daytime temperature was between 105-110F for most of the week when I came to teach an apologetics course for a group of students who hosted me for the fourth time. It was dry heat, for sure, but not unlike sticking one’s head in the oven. The AC didn’t function so it was too hot to sleep at night.

As usual, the travel itself was part of the adventure as it seems that Providence invariably places me in the path of someone who needs to hear the Word. On the flight from Paris to Ouagadougou, I was seated next to Jack, a 32 year old Air Force sergeant and one of the rare Americans on that flight. He was on his way to the US embassy for reasons we didn’t discuss but probably involved beefing-up security there as some Islamic terrorists are nearby.

A Roman Catholic from Pittsburgh, his heretofore perfunctory faith is being prodded by the metaphysical preoccupations of his inquisitive five-year-old daughter. That’s made him suddenly receptive to the teachings of Jesus. It’s amazing how the Lord uses the spiritual curiosity of one’s children to awaken some parents from their spiritual slumber…

Getting off the plane down the portable stairway in Ouagadougou, one is overcome by a blast of hot air that will be the reality for the rest of the week. The “Burkinabés” themselves (about 50% Mslm and 30% animist) are the friendliest people I’ve met in Africa. Two students sent to meet me at the airport immediately grabbed my bags. I asked them: “Are you doing that because I’m white or because I’m old?” “Les deux” (both) they answered. Indeed, I was the only white, and easily the oldest person around (life expectancy is short in Africa) all week. Yet no one bothered me… no stares or otherwise unsolicited attention. Even the Burkina children seem generally well-behaved and respectful. I’d stuffed a few toys (Frisbees and a soccer ball) in my suitcase for the group of children who hang out on the street near the mission center. They were delighted. One understands why Burkina Faso is known as the “land of the people of integrity.”

The Apologetics course went as expected. It included a section on the integrity of the N.T. documents, considerations on animism, and Islam, and a brief treatment of the so-called ‘prosperity gospel’ which influences many in Africa. One student wrote to thank me saying : “Nous avons été béni par votre cours car nous avons beaucoup appris”(we were blessed by your course because we learned much). Alleluia.

I brought a few French study Bibles provided by the generosity of supporters and gave them to students chosen by lot. Providentially, one of the recipients was Igor, a dedicated young Burkinabé brother [photo: green “Hope for Burkina Faso” T-shirt] who with his young wife Sonia (an African couple with Russian names) minister to 157 primary school children in a village that’s 99% Mslm. They teach them to read and sing Christian hymns and show them videos—even the “Jesus” film. The son of a polygamous “Catholic” (his dad has five wives), Igor came to the faith while singing with the choir of a local Protestant assembly. They’re part of the reason the church is growing so fast in Africa and why I feel good about going there to teach… Men like Igor deserve our encouragement.

A highlight of the week was the viewing of the scientific video “God of Wonders” which we watched together on the last day of class. It’s an excellent analysis of how the various marvels of nature (‘general revelation’ in theological parlance) manifest the greatness of the Creator. I think it helps foster a more scientific way of thinking generally lacking in Africa.

I stopped over in France on the way home to see our older son C.(38) who lives near Nimes. We attended Easter Sunday worship together in a tiny evangelical assembly not far from his village of Bezouce.

After years doing various jobs that haven’t suited his aptitudes, he’s come to realize that he would have more professional opportunities in the US and plans to move-in with us in Florida soon and hopefully re-start his suspended career in aviation. It will take a while (and some loans) for him to accumulate the additional flying hours he needs before becoming employable. We’re praying for the Lord to open some doors for him both spiritually and professionally. We appreciate your prayers for this too.

Speaking of France: while many are talking about the “accidental” fire at Notre Dame de Paris, there seems to reign a kind of collective psychosis in the country with regards to the 875 churches which were reportedly vandalized there last year. It’s no secret that Western Europe and France in particular is being overrun by a kind of militant Islam which is conquering the country mostly from the bedroom. Immigrants to France (mostly Moslems) are having 8.1 children/couple whereas the indigenous French are at 1.8. So unless there’s a major spiritual revival similar to that which took place during the Reformation between 1555-1562, the future for the land of Calvin looks bleak indeed. We would do well to join the efforts of groups like “Impact France” in prayer for revival before Notre Dame is converted into a mosque.

Blessings,                                                                                                                                          Marc+Aline



Benin apples
February 28, 2019, 2:41 pm
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It was my first visit to Benin, a small country of 10 million, about the size of Ohio, sandwiched between Nigeria and Togo. The population is approximately 25% Moslem, 27% Catholic, along with the idiosyncratic “Celestial Church of Christ,” and the usual array of Voodoo animists. Indeed Benin is reputed to be the birthplace of Voodoo and still holds an annual Voodoo convention here each year with a number of Haitian priests as participants.

I came (Feb.2-9) to teach a course on some basic principles of biblical interpretation including Jesus’ affirmation that the entire Bible—properly understood—is about Him (Luke 24:27; John 5:39+46). Providence was with me and an eager mixed group of 25 men and women including a few who came to the faith through the ministry of some theologically questionable television evangelists of the ‘prosperity gospel’ tradition. The course I prepared borrowed from the likes of the late R.C. Sproul, Drs. Bryan Chapell, R. Rayburn Jr., and especially the late A. Kuen whose excellent book on that subject ( “Comment Interpreter la Bible”) is a French theological classic.

The host for the course, Mrs. Yvette M., a bright, articulate mother of four (married to Lambert) organized the daily sessions (from 9h to 13h) in her Pentecostal church across the street from her home. The students were attentive and asked some of the usual questions revealing their preoccupations with secondary considerations (Should Christians practice foot-washing?) as well as some more thorny theological issues: Speaking in tongues; Women pastors etc. Fortunately, they respect the authority of the Scriptures, the condition sine qua non to progress in the Faith. I lodged at the “Royal Space hotel” just 300 meters from where the classes were held —only a two minute walk to work each morning. Though hardly up to Western standards (no hot water, irregular electricity and WIFI etc.) the hotel had television so I even got to see the N.E. Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl at 4:30 AM on Feb.3—jet-lag insomnia oblige.

My stay in Benin was marked by an ostensibly banal incident which I share with you now. First, a bit of background information. Know that apples don’t grow in West Africa, as the tropical heat favors fruit like bananas, mangoes and pineapple. Any apples found there would be imported from Europe at a hefty price. Just before leaving Florida on Feb.1, I was faced with a dilemma. There wasn’t room in my suitcase for the two dozen paperback copies of D. J. Kennedy’s apologetic volume “Pourquoi je crois” I’d packed and my habitual bag of “Fuji” apples that I’d picked up at the local Publix the day before. Something would be left behind as my suitcase—which contained a few French study-Bibles—was over the 50lb. weight limit. “Too bad for the books,” I thought. “The students probably wouldn’t read them anyway…” Besides, the Lord knows I need my morning fix—an apple and coffee.

But just before the Lyft driver pulled into the driveway for the ride to the airport I had a change of heart, my conscience telling me that it would be selfish not to take the books when the spiritually hungry Africans would surely benefit from them. So I hastily pulled the apples out of my bag and replaced them with the aforementioned paperbacks. I neither thought nor said anything about it until Thursday morning Feb.7 when one of the students—a bright young pastor from a local church—offered me a bag of ten impeccable “Golden Delicious” apples, probably imported from Europe! There was no way he could have known about my predilection for this fruit as I’d said nothing to anyone. Just another providential provision…

 

The following week (Feb.10-16) I taught the first half of a church history course for 8-10 pastors in steamy Abidjan, Ivory Coast: six hours/day for considering the inspiring examples of the early martyrs such as Ignatius, Blandina, Perpetua, Origen etc.; but also the intensive, drawn-out battles to defend the biblical orthodoxy against the likes of Arianism and Pelagianism, with a particular consideration of the heroic efforts of men like Athanasius, Augustine, and even Pope Leo I. What I wouldn’t give to know what that illustrious bishop said to the monstrous Attila the Hun to stop him from plundering Rome in 452! It’s on the long list of things I’ll ask the Lord when I see Him.

Meanwhile, we got as far as the 14th century, finishing with brief reflections on scholasticism and Anselm’s famous ontological argument—not exactly the burning subject of conversation among women drawing water at the well in any African village! Yet the African pastors need to know whence the Church has come lest they repeat the errors of the past. Less analytical, but more receptive than most Frenchmen, I’ve yet to meet an African foolish enough to doubt God’s existence.

The nightly television news spoke of trouble in Haiti—violence in the streets from hungry citizens protesting against government corruption with the mysterious disappearance of billions of dollars in foreign aid. Yvette, my Benin host, has been to Haiti and thinks Benin looks pretty good in comparison. The only hope for any country is an authentic spiritual revival. People need to realize that we’ll all have to give an account… (Revelations 22:12).

My next teaching gigs are with our Haitian students in the Dominican Republic in March, and in Burkina Faso in April. Meanwhile Aline and I are scheduled to drive to Savannah (Feb.20-24) for a church mission conference. I’ll bet there will be apples and even pecan pie there. God blessed America.

Blessings,                                                                                                                                                  Marc and Aline



The Francophone church January 2019
January 12, 2019, 3:59 am
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Summer in Languedoc
August 31, 2018, 2:58 am
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Au pays de nos aïeux
August 31, 2018, 2:35 am
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Andree+Dad at Maison Maillou in Quebec City

Sister Andree and Dad (93) in front of the “Maison Maillou” in Quebec city

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