Marc Mailloux's Blog

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” Paul of Tarsus
September 5, 2020, 12:49 am
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I noticed our neighbor Jan sitting out on her front porch as I cycled into our driveway. She was a retired 66 year old city employee
and divorcée who lived with her son Mat (40, a single, independent electrician) with whom we’ve maintained a casual contact over
the years. On a hot day when we were both mowing our lawns, I would occasionally drop by to share a refreshing drink with them
and hope for an opportunity to share the faith. As we’re all from N.E., we shared a mutual connection as fans of the N.E. Patriots,
so we’d occasionally talk football. That led to a few discussions about integrity and respecting the ‘rules’ in the game of life . Over
the years, it didn’t appear that I’d gotten very far with regards to the gospel, but there would always be a next time…right?

But this day was different. After attaching my bicycle to the rail in front of our house I strolled over to see Jan. I hardly had time to
say hello than she dropped the bomb: “Hi Marc… I just found out that I’m terminal.”
“What?” I replied. She explained that she’d just returned from a visit to her physician who told her that she had some rare blood
disease and perhaps three to six months to live. I swallowed hard and tried to minimize the shock of her declaration.

“We’re all terminal Jan… It’s just that you’ve been given a rare two-minute warning,” I ventured.
Then I sat down next to her on the porch, and we shared reflections on life and mortality before going for the jugular vein asking
her what she thought of the claims of Jesus who said “I am the Resurrection and the Life…” etc. She’d been raised a Roman
Catholic but hadn’t attended church in years and had not been overly concerned by the great metaphysical questions—until now.
This was in July of last year, right before we left for our annual summer ministry in France.
During that time, I’d pray for her on occasion and hoped to see her upon our return, though it was clear from her sunken eyes and
pale complexion that the shadow of death was not far away.
Indeed, Jan died less than a month later while we were in France. Matt told me that she’d driven to a local park where the police
found her lifeless body sitting behind the wheel of her parked car where she’d succumbed to her illness. One never knows his
hour… Mat has since began attending a local church…

I thought of the plenipotentiary king in Ionesco’s play “Le Roi se Meurt” (“Exit the King”) who’s told by his physicians that his
days are numbered. The King refuses to acquiesce: “Kings ought to be immortal….someone must save me, I can’t save myself,” he
protests. Likewise the case of the searching knight in Ingmar Bergman’s chilling 1957 film classic “The Seventh Seal” where the
protagonist periodically plays chess with the lugubrious character named DEATH though he can only delay the inevitable outcome of the game.

It’s been much the same with regards to the over-hyped Covid virus. However mercifully feeble the mortality statistics,
the pandemic has provided a poignant reminder of our transience as well as some brief, favorable moments to share the
faith with a number of our anxious contemporaries. One need only pray for the providentially oriented circumstances
to put them in our path. That’s been happening regularly since March…

Of course we’re all concerned by death, even if we spend most of our time surrounded by what Pascal called the myriad
“divertissements” or distractions of life which keep us from thinking of the one thing—along with taxes—that’s
certain. Then comes the demise of someone we knew, and a moment of spiritually heightened sensitivity. Camus called
it “une petite transcendence.” It often lasts but a fleeting instant; a favorable ‘kairos’ moment to seize. Pray that we’ll
always be ready…

On more joyful subject, Aline and I were blessed with the visit of our daughter’s family from California with Mss. Elea
(5), Heidi (3) and Eva (2)—an estrogen tempest. It was a delightful week with three very lively souls who taught us
much of original sin, the childlike simplicity required for entrance into the Kingdom, and especially the Lord’s
unconditional love of His children. It was also fascinating to analyze their linguistic development. They distinguish the
French they hear from their mother and English from their dad and schoolmates. Typically, they answered me in
English and Aline in French and occasionally “Frenglish.”

I write this on the eve of our departure for a summer visit to France (July 22-Aug.18). Aline’s mom (82) is not doing too
well physically so we’re looking forward to spending some precious time with her as well as the rest of the family
including Aline’s older brother getting married Aug.3. Also, I’ll be filling-in for a pastor recovering from illness in her
home area—covid quarantine restrictions notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing 6-8 minute devotional messages (in French) which Aline’s younger brother, a pastor in the
Aquitaine region, diffuses for the church via the internet. In fact, it’s been a good exercise for me to reduce an hour-long
teaching into a brief presentation. Apparently, the response has been positive.
We’re grateful and encouraged by the faithful support of our ministry partners during the pandemic. We expect to have
some encouraging anecdotes to share with you all about the progress of the Lord’s Kingdom in notoriously resistant
soil of France. Perhaps the pandemic has softened the terrain…?


Son-in-law Eric with daughter Eva celebrating her 2cd birthday in July

“Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! » Revelations 19:9
September 5, 2020, 12:37 am
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Aline and I just returned from an encouraging visit to France to see her family, including her ailing mother. We also attended her brother Jean-Louis’
wedding on Aug.3, scheduled to coincide with our visit. Though it’s his second marriage and he and Anne- Laure [photo] have been living together for
ten years and have an eight year old daughter (Anaïs, who like our daughter also plays the harp), it was a deliberate decision on their part to consecrate
their union—better late than never—as well as a testimony of the Spirit’s moving in the family.

We stayed with Aline’s mom in St. Privat-des-Vieux, just outside Alès, in a small condominium development which was designed specifically for elderly
retired folks (by an American architect) with everything at ground level so there are no stairs to climb—an important consideration for her semi-invalid
mom. Our presence gave a brief break to niece Magali (51) who normally cares for Aline’s mother. Among the residents at the condos are Jean, a 67-
year-old retired postal worker from Burgundy who with his wife Ange-Marie share a love for pétanque and introduced me to a number of their friends
and acquaintances which led to some interesting discussion mostly around the table… a favorite pastime in France.

My mornings were devoted to working on my sermons (I preached on two Sundays at the evangelical Methodist church in Anduze) and the
preparation of 6-8 minute teaching videos which Aline’s younger brother Pascal disseminated via his church’s website as well as on Facebook and
YouTube (Francophiles need only type my name to find them). So far the feedback has been positive, with more people watching them than attending
The teaching videos are more ‘pastoral’ as their goal is helping believers grow in the faith. In France, ministry requires as much evangelism as pastoral

edification as one is surrounded by a vast majority of people who have little notion of even the most basic biblical truths, neither are they likely to hear
them over the radio or television as in many other countries.

For one willing to share the Faith, the Lord provides all kinds of propitious occasions. The drive to St. Privat from Anduze (20kms) provided a
providential encounter with Vanessa, an articulate thirty-year-old Parisian Red Cross worker who was hitchhiking out of Anduze where she’d just
completed a week-long hiking tour on a trail made famous by R.L. Stevenson’s “Travels with a donkey in the Cévennes.” After I gently scolded her for
hitchhiking (not recommended for a young single woman), the conversation led naturally to the gospel as she asked me what I was doing in France. She
listened attentively during the 15 minute journey to Alès where I dropped her off at a commercial center where she met her sister. She eagerly accepted a
copy “l’évangile selon Jean” and promised to read it that evening. She claimed to be a believing Roman Catholic but was not versed in Holy Writ and
declared : “Je ne l’ai jamais entendu expliqué ainsi…”( I never heard it explained that way).

A similar phrase came from the mouth of pétanque colleague Marcel, one of the regulars at the afternoon sessions in Anduze’s “Parc des Cordeliers.” I’d
make it a point to get there early before starting time when the players would hang around under the shade of the towering bamboos and “micocouliers”
(hackberry trees) and shoot the breeze. As a visiting American, I had a captive audience and the Lord provided some clear opportunities to share the
Faith. After one such session, Marcel affirmed: “c’est beau d’entendre ce que vous dites… on nous parle jamais comme cela…” (It’s nice to hear what
you say…one never speaks to us that way.

Among the pétanque players was Pierre, an 82-year-old retired butcher. He had five children (three
boys and two girls) but lost all three of his sons prematurely. People who’ve suffered that much
often seem more receptive to the good news than others…In addition there was my old friend
Gérard (“le Vieux Maître”), an 84 year old retired miner who is still among the best players at “La
Boule d’Orée,” the Anduze pétanque club which has produced more than its share of regional
champions. It’s amazing to see how good his hand-eye coordination is even at that age.

Pétanque players are of all sociological backgrounds and include everyone from Joel, a retired
international banker who’s much traveled in S. America (via Miami), to Philippe, a retired
gendarme, and Johann, a 31-year-old construction worker whose dad Pierre is also an avid player.
There was a good ambiance and they even gave me a club jersey which I proudly sported the last
playing day while offering them departing apéritif.

We did not do much travelling this summer and made only some local visits to our dear elderly
sisters Anne+Soizik (93 and 94) who live in a tiny, rustic village between Anduze and Alès and
whose health and mobility have declined significantly since last year. Fortunately, they receive daily
visits from a nurse via the comprehensive French medical system.

This year we stayed close to Aline’s mom where we were largely compensated just basking in the
sweet smell of nearby lavender fields, the ubiquitous sounds of the chirping “cigales” (cicadas), the
incomparable savor of “pélardons” (regional goat cheese) on a crusty piece of “baguette” washed
down with a glass of local rosé or sweet Montbazillac wine: « O temps suspends ton vol!” (Moment
linger awhile)…these are the halcyon days! I caught myself almost saying it several times per day
until the evening news (including that of the recent murder of Haitian pastor Jean Paul) reminded
me that the eternal feast doesn’t start ‘til we’re around the table at the supper of the Lamb. See you

Jesus said….It is written June 2020
June 11, 2020, 3:05 pm
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Calix with Beechcraft King Air 90

No.1 son in front of 1950’s vintage Beechcraft King Air 18

“And I brethren, when I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom…that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” I Cor.2:1,5)

We’ve been spending Covid ‘down time’ preparing studies for the next courses in Africa and sermons for this summer ministry in France. In addition, several of us have been getting together occasionally for games of pétanque. Most of the players are retired Frenchmen who’ve lived in the US for decades. Few are professing believers. Two have passed away (not from Covid) in the last two months. Their abrupt departure reminds us to seize every opportunity that presents itself as man knows not his hour…

Teaching preparation involves a bit of reading, of course, but perhaps not as much as some might think. In fact I’ve been doing a lot more listening than reading: walking around the block for hours with my headphones tuned to on-line conferences of some from my favorite teachers, pastors and seminary professors. One can walk and listen simultaneously a lot more easily, I think, than walk and read. Which brings me to the heart of this meditation on the art of learning: How does one learn anything?

In high school, I would occasionally get together with a friend to study for an important exam. Phil had the habit of reading his lessons out loud (like Aquinas, apparently) as he said it favored retention from both auditory and visual senses. The fact that he was a straight A student doesn’t hurt the credibility of his theory. Most of us who grew up in the West learn principally by reading. If you want to teach an American or a Frenchman something, you give him a book on the subject. Christian, an old seminary classmate in France, had an eidetic memory and needed only a cursory glance at page or a list of Greek vocabulary words to be able to recite them back without error. I wasn’t so gifted, alas… Still, most of us can read faster than anyone talks so reading is more efficient than listening, right? Maybe.

For over twenty years now, we’ve been involved mostly with people of the Caribbean, and Africans who are overwhelmingly of the oral tradition. They learn through hearing much more than by reading, as most people did before the invention of the printing press. Even now it seems that many have never really learned to take advantage of Gutenberg’s invention. Illiteracy is over 75% in Haiti. How does one teach them?

When we first arrived in S. Florida, we purchased 1500 copies of the French translation of D.J. Kennedy’s apologetic volume “Pourquoi Je Crois” which we would distribute to our French, Quebecois and Haitians acquaintances. It didn’t take long to discover that the latter group—by far the most spiritually receptive—would hardly ever read the book. Like their African cousins, they’re most attentive to what is spoken and seem to retain a much greater percentage of what they hear than Westerners do. Naturally, radio is more important than the printing press for communicating with them. The same would be true for sub-Saharan Africa where oral learning trumps reading. An incident in Burundi where I’d gone to teach years ago was most illuminating. I’d brought a carton of devotional books for distribution amongst the parishioners of the pastor who’d invited me. He reluctantly took them and asked me matter-of-factly: “What do I do with these?” It was a befuddling but eye-opening question as I was beginning to understand something of the idiosyncrasies of dealing with oral cultures…He probably used the books as door-stops.

All of which is to say, that until the African and Haitian churches develop a more literary tradition (if that is ever to happen), we’re going to have to work on our oral teaching skills. After all, Jesus Himself didn’t write anything, as far as we know: He spoke.

Hence my effort to become more ‘audio’ in my learning method, listening to on-line conferences, lectures etc. There’s something that gets across in the speaker’s “ethos”—the way he’s perceived by the listeners— (beyond the “logos”/words, and “pathos”/passion) that’s lost in mere reading.

Some seminaries go a step further and use video recordings in homiletics classes so that prospective preachers can even study their body language—another important element in the art of communication. I prefer to listen to recordings of my favorite preachers as one can sense the Spirit’s unction on them from the voice intonation. It’s also a good, albeit daunting, exercise to listen to one self. I have a painful memory from a sermon I’d preached years ago, its recording having been sent to me as a courtesy by the host church. I was acutely aware of an element of unsanctified aggressiveness in my speaking tone. Ouch!

Meanwhile, audio learning has limitations. St. Augustine wrote much but didn’t leave recordings of his teaching. A bit of sanctified imagination helps when reading his “Confessions.” Who hasn’t wondered how Jesus’ voice might have sounded as he delivered the sermon on the Mount to the enraptured throngs? Was He a bass, baritone, or a tenor? A Hebrew Orson Wells? James Earl Jones? Or Max McLean? In any case, He must have had exceptional vocal capacity to be able to address thousands without a microphone.

Finally, oral communication is not without its pitfalls. In the early 70’s, before she embraced the Faith, my sister was visiting Francis Schaeffer’s L’Abri community in Switzerland. I had exhorted her not to miss any lectures of resident scholar Os Guinness, always a treat to listen to. She wrote back shortly thereafter that she’d heard Guinness speak but would consciously avoid hearing him again as he was so eloquent and persuasive that he could probably sell her the Brooklyn Bridge. “I don’t want to be seduced by eloquence,” she insisted. “I want to be convinced by TRUTH.” For those of us without Dr. Guinness’ oratory talent, it’s reassuring to know that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness!



petanque explained c

May 2020 Of pestilence and pandemics
May 12, 2020, 5:34 pm
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With no.1 son on the Florida west coast                                   With no.1 son in Bradenton, Fl. May 2020

“Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, he reaps.” Galatians 6:7.

With the Covid virus dominating the news and our lives, it would be impossible to do our regular update without referring to this global phenomenon. To say that it affected our ministry would be a gross understatement.

Like many, we’ve had to cancel Bible school classes here as well as teaching trips to Africa and have had to suspend future plans until…? That has allowed more time to prepare a new series of sermons (on Ecclesiastes) for this summer’s stint in France—assuming all goes well. On the other hand, most folks seem more receptive than usual as an impromptu evangelistic session on our local S. Florida commuter train recently proved. What started as a private conversation with a fellow bicyclist (inquiring about my recumbent bicycle), ended as a mini-evangelistic session with several other riders in the train car including a Jamaican, an African American and a Jew from New York.

On the home front, daily living has changed for many. Among younger couples, there may be a sharp rise in natality in a bit less than a year from now. Others may discover the wisdom of the saying that marriage is “for better or for worse, but never for lunch.” Apparently, the incidence of domestic quarrels, child abuse, alcoholism etc. has risen dramatically since the lock-down, especially in urban areas with more confined living-space. “L’enfer, c’est les autres” (Hell is other people) wrote J-P Sartre. These are just some of the unseen costs of the pandemic. Overall, the economic costs of eradicating the virus may prove excessive, not to mention the loss of our civil liberties. The jury is still out…

We’re among the privileged with a back yard where we can “chill-out” doing yard work and delayed chores while waiting for the pathogen tempest to pass. We pity our friends in cities in France cooped-up in tiny apartments, not legally able to stray more than a stone’s throw from their doors! I suspect much will be said of “cabin fever blues.”

Aline’s unofficial counselling ministry has been going full throttle during the shutdown as she fields phone calls daily from confined housewives in need of a sympathetic confidante. Appreciated for her discretion, she listens patiently for hours offering only an occasional word from mostly distraught women—both domestic and foreign—who bend her ear interminably needing someone to listen to them more than they need advice. That even applies to our own daughter, confined to the house with three little children 4, 3, 1, all day. I couldn’t do what either Aline or Anais do on a daily basis. I’d be climbing the walls. I’m glad the Creator made us different. Vive la différence!

As of this writing, we’re still without news from pastor Haba K. in N’zerekore, Guinea whose church there was attacked and burned by an angry mob just two days after I was to have taught there. That part of the trip was cancelled because of the pandemic. So at least in my case, Covid-19 might have saved my life! We continue to pray for the brethren in N’zererkore in that overwhelmingly M*slm (83%) country.

Meanwhile, there was more time for correspondences with friends and acquaintances. Ironically, for once I had ample time to compose our monthly prayer letter, but nothing original to say: no report of any adventures in Africa, Haiti; no first-hand account on the church growth in other parts of the world—just banalities.

Health wise, both Aline and I have weathered the storm thus far. What’s essential—as best as I can figure—is to strengthen one’s immune system with a healthy diet, the requisite vitamins, a bit of quinine, zinc, exercise, proper hygiene, and a lot of prayer.

We find it a curious that the places hardest hit have been China, a world leader in persecuting Christians; Iran, a global sponsor of Islamic terrorism; Western Europe, notorious for rejecting the gospel; and New York, with its blatantly blasphemous celebration of ‘abortion rights’ back in January . Coincidence? Perhaps.

Though I have doubts about several theological options (infralapsarianism vs. supralapsarianism; pre-millenialism vs. a-millenialism etc.), I’ve absolutely no doubt that the Lord abhors abortion. There were more than 10 million abortions in the world last year, many times more than the number of Covid-19 deaths. Though God may not settle His scores here below, might He graciously use a pandemic to remind some of the sanctity of life?

Finally, on the home front, while millions were losing their employment, on April 20, our older son started the entry-level pilot’s job he aspired to in Sarasota after a rigorous fortnight of testing and training in Virginia. He’s with a company that does mostly pest control; low-level flying, releasing sterile flies over the Everglades. It’s relatively dangerous and doesn’t pay much, but he’s grateful for the work and the flying time. For us, that meant several round-trip drives across “Alligator Alley” to west coast of Florida (250 miles one way) to help him find an apartment and move him in. There were several 11th hour answers to prayer. Alleluia!

Stay safe. Respect the requisite social distance. May the only “Corona” you injest be a Mexican cerveza.

Blessings,                                                                                                                                   Marc+Aline


A new season for the Kingdom in Ivory Coast
April 3, 2020, 8:38 pm
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With Pastor Michel (in green), three new adolescent believers, and elder Tehe

Trips to Africa are never dull but the circumstances produced by the Covid19 virus made this particular venture more complicated than usual. The goal was to teach some basic biblical theology/hermeneutics from material adapted mostly from B. Chapell’s excellent “Christ Centered Preaching” to two groups of students in both Man, Ivory Coast and N’zérékoré, Guinea.

I left from Ft. Lauderdale on Tuesday, March 10, with stops in Atlanta, Paris, and Abidjan, finally arriving in Man (pop. 180,000) on Thursday afternoon (March 12). We had class all day starting at 8 AM Friday and Saturday with more teaching, three adolescent baptisms, and worship service on Sunday. The students were attentive and devoured the material. It was a smaller group (14) than the 33 we’d anticipated as a few who were to make the journey to Man from a town a hundred miles away had to decline when their pastor lost his wife in childbirth the day before the classes started. In addition, one pastor, upset that the course would be held in Man and not his town, dissuaded some of the faithful in his area from attending.

Nonetheless, the teaching was well received and the students asked good questions. Fortunately, we had French study notes available for the attendees (including several pastors) who promised to teach many others according to the spiritual multiplication principle of II Timothy 2:2. On Monday, March 16, I was supposed to travel about 100 miles overland to the border with Guinea whence I would be met by pastor Haba K. from N’zérékoré (where I had previously taught in September 2018), then another 60 miles to that town (pop. 300,000). However the rapidly evolving pandemic dissuaded us from attempting to cross another border which might be closed at any time, making our return impossible and stranding us in a remote town, hundreds of miles from any airport. It seemed a satanic curveball fowling up our game plan…

So I had to stay in Man and find another alternative to get home as the U.S. stopped flights from Europe and the French government stopped all air traffic into their country thus cancelling my Abidjan-Paris flight on Air France. That meant rebooking my Air Cote d’Ivoire flight to Abidjan, and getting to Lomé (Togo) whence I would catch an Ethiopian Air flight to Newark if all went as planned–hardly a given on a continent where Murphy’s law prevails.

The unscheduled 72 hour layover in Man afforded me precious time with young (42) host pastor Michel G. who has planted some 22 new assemblies in this part of Ivory Coast, not without opposition (from Mslms and even from envious brethren). Like pastor Haba in Guinea, Michel is determined to see the Kingdom advance in his part of this New Mexico sized country. We spent long hours discussing apologetics in an African context, the use of the Westminster Catechism as a tool for instructing believers in the faith, as well as the potential for the “Evangelism Explosion” program in Ivory Coast. He seems open to all possibilities. “Imagination au pouvoir!” as the May ’68 revolutionaries chanted in France.

One major obstacle is financing his ministry. The meager congregational offerings ($12.50 total on Sunday March 15) aren’t nearly sufficient to cover the church’s modest needs. Pastor Michel and his elders have a well-conceived project [I have the project documentation, albeit in French] to start a chicken-raising operation on a nearby property in the town of Facobly, 15 miles north of Man. They already have the land and even the salvageable remains of a chicken-farm which was vandalized during a national rebel uprising some ten years ago. They even have a capable overseer—Emmanuel— ready, willing, and eager to start production. Still, they need about $7000. to prime the pump–dig a well, get the farm in shape etc., and create a steady source of income to finance their ministry. This is a worthwhile effort which merits our prayer and support.

Meanwhile, Michel was effusive in his gratitude for our humble teaching efforts which he called « une grande bénédiction » (a great blessing) for the local church. He was particularly grateful for some French study Bibles made possible by the generosity of some of you reading this, and for the French copies of the Westminster Confession of faith and Catechism which he is now studying assiduously. We hope to bring him more on forthcoming trips as these books constitute a precious pedagogical tool for the overwhelmingly uninstructed faithful. As I’ve written before, with regards to the three “means of grace” (prayer, fellowship and Biblical knowledge), the oral-culture Africans tend to be strong in the first two but woefully lacking in basic biblical knowledge. Hence our teaching ministry… On Thursday, March 19, I flew to Abidjan, barely making a flight to nearby Lomé whence I caught an eleven-hour Air Ethiopia flight to Newark, and a Jet Blue ride down to Ft. Lauderdale. I finally arrived at the elusive destination I call “home,” though one is not truly Home until he reaches Christian’s destination—the Celestial City. Still, I was glad to have arrived at that Pompano Beach address which, in comparison with funky, unpredictable, stifling hot Africa, did clearly seem an appropriate metaphor for our ultimate Destiny.

Walking in the door, I felt as if I were stepping on home plate having completed the circuit as in America’s erstwhile national pastime whose goal involves paradoxically arriving at the point of departure. If we scored a run, it was with the gut-feeling that I may have missed second base, cutting across the infield, in foregoing the trip to Guinea lest I get stuck there. For the ministry—like baseball—is but a circular parenthesis in what is clearly a linear teleology—the Celestial City or bust! My next “at-bat” (mission trip) is scheduled for May when I’m supposed to teach a course on the Pentateuque in Lomé, Togo… Alas, the season might be suspended as nothing is sure at this point, save that Jesus is Lord.


Marc and Aline


  I’ve learned through the feedback of some readers, that the March 2020 news/prayer letter (“Mailloux Musings”) we sent out last week either did not arrive at its destination or, in many (most?) cases has gone to the Spam box of those to whom it was destined.  With this in mind, I would ask you to kindly verify your Spam box and please tell me if you have not received the letter… My email is:
   Meanwhile, as an addendum to the letter’s contents: an event took place after I wrote.  The church and school in N’zerekore, Guinea where I was to have taught again (March 17-19) but where the visit was aborted due to the Covid-19 virus, was attacked and burned by fanatic M*slms on Sunday March 22.  Pastor Haba K. and his family were apparently spared, but others were injured.   Providentially, I was not there when this happened.
Pastor Michel and Elder Tehe baptize adolescent convert while women washing their clothes observe.
Pastor Michel and elder baptize adolescent

Haitian students in the Dominican Republic January 2020
February 20, 2020, 4:55 pm
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Aline and I occasionally take advantage of my regular teaching stints for a group of 25 Haitian ministry candidates in Santo Domingo to see our younger son Justin (37) there who’s been eking out his living giving surfing and tennis lessons to a few well-heeled tourists (including some celebrities) who patronize one of the fancy hotels near his town. In addition, Justin and Sebastian, his Argentine buddy, are trying to market their healthy, spicy “Salsa Macho” sauce in the D.R. and beyond.

Meanwhile, he lives rent-free on the property of a wealthy Serbian-Canadian woman of Orthodox background, where he earns his keep watching over the property during her long absences. On several occasions, Aline and I have been invited to join Rebecca, a beautiful, bright entrepreneur our age and her guests for a meal at her palatial beach mansion where a regular stream of high-roller international guests benefit from her gracious hospitality. These encounters have afforded us some unique opportunities to share the Word with a few influential people such as we do not normally meet in our daily routine.

On this last trip, at a sumptuous evening meal around a 40’ long table, I was seated next to M., a reputed architect who, upon hearing of my profession, admitted that he was a non-believer. I chided him about the logic of stumbling upon an intricate structure somewhere and concluding that it materialized with neither architect nor blueprint. We concluded that though we both had “faith” of sorts, his was greater though less reasonable than mine as he believed in the appearance of a magnificently elaborate universe without the input of a Designer…

After our brief (36 hour) stay with our son, I dropped Aline at the airport while I went to Santo Domingo for five evenings of classes with our Haitian students for a survey of the so-called ‘historical’ books (Judges through Esther in our English or French Bibles). I endeavored to convey to the students the discoveries that I made preparing these books of Holy Writ for their collective appreciation. What a wealth of wisdom one finds in Ruth and Esther…with magnificent literary artifices, to boot!

As always, the most frustrating part of teaching the Word to folks of an oral culture is the fact that most of the class had not read through it even once. Though they can recite many passages (Psalm 23 is a favorite) from memory—always from the same French translation—few, if any, have an appreciation of the what the Dutch theologian G. Vos called the “organic” nature of the Bible where all the parts converge at the cross of Jesus according to the Lord’s own words. Alas, getting people from an oral culture to cultivate good reading habits is like pulling teeth. Fortunately, they retain a good deal more of what they hear than we Westerners do. Still, there were five students in the class who have caught the vision and whose homework assignments revealed a better-than-average grasp of biblical theology. Alleluia! Pray their influence will rub off on the others…

I warned them that if they preached in their churches from Psalm 23 without making the connection between David’s shepherd and the “Good Shepherd” of John 10, then they should probably stay out of the pulpit until they see the Light. To paraphrase old Dean Courthial of our Reformed Seminary in France, “if what one preaches does not offend a Jew or a Moslem, then one has probably not preached the gospel.”

As usual, my responsibilities on this trip included delivering the Sunday sermon at a Haitian church which meets in an upper room on what’s probably the noisiest street in the world—80 decibels of constant deafening din from the passing traffic below. On this occasion, I used a text on the origin and meaning of marriage, which elicited occasional “Amens” of approbation from the unrestrained, uninhibited worshipers. Not very “Presbyterian” perhaps, but most encouraging for the preacher!

My next trip to the D.R. is scheduled for September when I’ve been asked to treat the Bible’s poetic books. Until then, Aline and I will be visiting a few supporting churches and I’m preparing a course for an eager group of students in a town in western Ivory Coast and another in southeastern Guinée. This will involve a 300 mile drive between the two towns over a foreboding jungle road in March, hopefully before the spring rains arrive and the road becomes impassible. In any case it will take me through some places I’m uneasy about venturing to so I ask your prayers of protection in advance.

On the home front, our older son (he does not want me to use his unusual name as it results in unsolicited internet queries) is still living with us while seeking a way to find flying time and an eventual pilot’s job. He’s intellectually gifted and applies himself assiduously at whatever he endeavors to do and was interviewed for a job in Sarasota. Normally, it’s a “Catch-22” situation where there’s no job without the experience and no experience without the job. But we’ve a Sovereign God capable of overcoming any obstacles. We appreciate your intercession on his behalf. blessings,


The Conakry Convergence December 2019
February 20, 2020, 4:48 pm
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It was my second trip to Guinée but my first time in Conakry, the capital. Last time (Nov. 2018) I was in this country was for a teaching program in N’zérékoré, some 500 miles to the east, an arduous 2½ day drive over bumpy, dusty, unpaved trails. Unfortunately, there’s no other way to travel between the two largest cities in Guinée as there’s no functioning airport in N’zérékoré nor any rail service. Hence the heroic but almost routine effort of our N’zérékoré colleague Pastor Haba K. who made the journey and introduced me to 27 Conakry pastors (including several women) of various theological traditions who attended our teaching program. None of them have any formal theological training; all were enthusiastic in their appreciation of the course on basic hermeneutical principles translated and adapted from my favorite instructors, including Drs. R.C. Sproul, Bryan Chapell, Rob Rayburn Jr. and the late Alsatian theologian A. Kuen.

We started each morning around 9 o’clock with some of the pastors (80% of whom have full-time secular jobs) coming from as far a 50kms away, well over an hour through horrendous traffic –probably the worst I’ve seen in Africa. We met in the church of the young (29), articulate Pastor Désiré G, a bright, well-read fellow who is clearly an educational cut above the others. He alone was familiar with Prof. Kuen’s book from which we derived some course material. His church meets in a relatively centralized location (as much as it’s possible to speak of a center of Conakry which is on an elongated peninsula). Zigzagging through rush-hour traffic each morning on the way to class on the back of his motorcycle was exhilarating.

I arrived on Saturday night, and pastor Désiré half-surprised me by asking me to preach at his church the next day. Fortunately, I had notes on my computer of an archived sermon… After I spoke, Pastor Désiré did a masterful job recapitulating the message for the 75 faithful—a good pedagogical way of reinforcing what had already been said. I was both impressed and encouraged to see that the tiny church in this 85% Mslm. country has such a gifted young leader.

The faithful included as many men as women with, invariably well-behaved children and infants. Once again, at 66 I’m easily the oldest person there. Africa is a continent of young people! Meanwhile, I still haven’t figured out why African worship services—characterized by long periods of vigorous rhythmic singing and dancing—are almost never interrupted by crying babies? Perhaps it’s too hot for them to cry and they learn early to conserve their strength and energy? In any case, there’s much to be admired on this continent where life is difficult for the vast majority of people, most of whom could instruct any Western Christian on the meaning of ‘longsuffering.’

A case in point: after class on Wednesday, we drove to the humble (i.e. primitive by Western standards) abode of pastor Augustin and his wife Cambella, who live only ten miles away but a thirty-minute drive from where the teaching program met. Pastor Augustin and his wife moved to Conakry from N’zérékoré two years ago with the intention of starting another church in a neighborhood where many government workers live. But they’re still looking for a locale, a considerable difficulty for the scorned ‘second class’ Christian minority in this country. After the visit to their home, another pastor drove me back to the hotel where I was staying. On the way, a young woman hawking bananas in the middle of the dark unlit street ran alongside the car as we inched along in stop-and-go city traffic while our driver counted out a few Guinean francs. She made barely a few cents from the sale of the fruit, risking her health and even life in the process. Such is the drudgery of life for this young woman and millions like her. Count your blessings in the West.

The program went for three full days as many in assistance could not get more time off from work and voted to prolong the daily schedule so as to avoid additional long trips back and forth to their home areas. They all claimed that they learned much and insisted that I return ASAP for a homiletics course sometime in 2020. Meanwhile, I promised a pastor in Ivory Coast that I would return there, and will have to go to Rwanda again (probably in November) to finish the second half of the church history course started last month.

So there would appear to be more African travel in my future. For this I solicit your prayers for the Lord’s provision for both energy and finances. As much as I’m reluctant to make certain journeys (some places are more dangerous than others), I’m overcome with shame for my reluctance when I see how needy, receptive, and appreciative our African brothers are for the teaching of the aforementioned theologians whose work I merely translate and adapt (along with a few personal anecdotes thrown in for good measure).

Though I may have reached official ‘retirement’ age, I’m convicted by the example of my own dad who flew down from Philly for a few days this month. He’s in his 96th year and still occasionally rides his bicycle to work! “We’ll have all eternity to rest…” he would say. So as long as the Lord gives me strength and provides the finances, we’ll keep pressing on… Next teaching trip is with the Haitian students of Santo Domingo the week of Jan. 20-27.

Our granddaughters won’t be with us this year as daughter Anaïs and her husband Eric have just moved into a new house in the L.A. area and have other commitments. It will be a quiet Christmas holiday for us. Hopefully we’ll see them in April as we plan to attend an MTW missions conference in California.

Our best wishes for a blessed Christmas,


Nov.2019 A fortnight in amazing Rwanda
November 21, 2019, 7:05 pm
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with Congolese students from Bukavu in Kamembe, Rwanda


In Kamembe, Rwanda with Congolese students from Bakuvu

I’m writing this from the Kigali airport where I’ve just arrived from Kamembe on the border with the Congo and have a 10-hour wait before catching a flight to Brussels, the second of four flights on what will be a 43-hour journey home. It was my second trip to Rwanda, (pop. 13 million) a country that many think of in association with the horrible genocide of April, 1994, when the Hutu majority slaughtered some 800,000 of the Tutsi minority, mostly with machetes. One would never suspect Rwanda’s tragic past by seeing it today as it is now a truly unique country by African standards or by any standards. From the arrival at the Kigali airport where one is greeted by smiling, courteous and efficient immigration officials, to the spotlessly clean streets of the entire country, one has the impression that he’s in a tropical Switzerland rather than in Africa.

I came to teach the first part of a church history course for two groups of Congolese pastors from cities 150 miles apart. We’re meeting in Rwanda as the conditions (security, price, accommodations, etc.) are significantly better here than just across Lake Kivu in the Dem. Rep. of the Congo—a country with fabulous mineral wealth but a corrupt and chaotic political system and a bloody history of factions fighting over the aforementioned minerals. Some 5 million Congolese have died in these struggles since 1996.

The first night at Guido’s quaint, immaculately clean Kigali BnB, was followed by a three-hour ride over windy, hilly roads (Rwanda averages 4,800’ above sea level) to Gisenyi (pop. 90,000) in the northwest corner of this Maryland-sized country. We drove past thousands of mostly young people (I’m the oldest person, and the only white I’ll see all week) and hard-working pedestrians who cultivate tea, coffee, corn, pineapples etc. on surrounding hillsides. But it’s Sunday, so many are walking to and from worship services. Rwanda is largely Christian and there seems to be a genuine fear of God in this land. A Rwandan sitting next to me on the plane said that the genocide had a cathartic effect on the whole country. Perhaps.

Surely some of the credit for Rwanda’s amazing transformation belongs to the visionary leadership of President Paul Kagame, the erstwhile military hero who stopped the massacre in 1994 and who has since been thrice elected as the nation’s chief executive. A Utube-video says he aspires to make his country “the Singapore of Africa.” All indications are that he’s succeeding admirably.

The first week of classes were in Gisenyi where the Congolese students came across the border every day from Goma (pop.2 million), ground zero in the recent Ebola outbreak. There were 13 pastors for the first half of a course which takes us from Pentecost to the Reformation. There’s a cultural gap to bridge as I’m dealing with folks of a mostly oral culture for whom even the names “Rome” and “Constantinople” mean little. At one point, I shared an anecdote taken from the Disney cartoon of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” None of the students had ever heard of either Carroll or even Mickey Mouse or Walt Disney.

After a week of classes (six hours/day of lecturing; a stretch for even a loquacious fellow like myself), it was off to Kamembe, a four-hour ride 135 miles to the south over a winding road to do the same course, this time with a group of 17 Congolese pastors from Bukavu (pop. 1 million) just across the border.

These fellows were a bit more inquisitive than the Gisenyi group and asked many thoughtful questions. Still, they’re Africans who tend to think more concretely—like the Hebrews—than abstractly—like the ancient Greeks (or the French). Indeed, there’s no platonic dichotomy between the material and the spiritual here. Neither were they particularly in tune with the analytical obsession and intellectual rigor of some of the early church fathers so meticulous in the formulation of doctrinal statements as we considered the careful wording of the venerable “Athanasian Creed.” The medieval monastic tradition seemed strange to them too. Most Africans-pastors included–have large families…

Likewise, it was a challenge going through the Scholastic period (XI-XIV centuries) with its preoccupation on the role of reason and philosophy in faith; Anselm’s ontological argument; the doctrinal debates on the Trinity between Abelard and “Doctor Mellifluus” (Bernard de Clairvaux) etc.—not exactly the everyday fare for a rural African pastor! For many it might seem parallel to speculations as to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I taught them the French translation of “Amazing Grace” and thought of teaching them Bernard’s famous hymn “Chef Couvert de Blessures” (O Sacred Head now Wounded) to music by J.S. Bach—one of my favorites. But it’s hardly the kind of melody they’re used to in Africa. Would that be cultural imperialism? What do they really need to know? We’re convinced that above all, they need a better knowledge of the Word. Of the three main “means of grace,” it’s knowledge of the Bible (as opposed to prayer and fellowship) which is so lacking in Africa where the Faith tends to run a mile wide and an inch deep. Hence our ongoing conviction for getting them French study Bibles…

Meanwhile, the Spirit is surely at work in on the “Dark continent.” Conversions number in the hundreds of thousands if not millions every year! Many of these coming to the saving faith have been converted through the ministries of some less-than-orthodox television preachers. It’s our job to help reform some of their thinking. The future may indeed belong to Africa.

Polygamy and Spiritism notwithstanding, many African Christians have a stronger family ethic than the decadent West and are dumbfounded by the idea of homosexual marriage. Neither have these ‘pre-Enlightenment’ brethren been deluded by the likes of so-called liberal theology with its pre-suppositional denial of the supernatural. You won’t find any Congolese Rudolph Bultmanns “demythologizing” the biblical miracles.

By the time you read this, I should be in Conakry, Guinee—a whole different kettle of fish from Rwanda—for a program organized by a zealous brother (Haba K.) who’d invited me last year to teach in his home town of N’Zérékoré. He has another group in the capital some 500 miles away—a risky two-day trip over mostly unpaved roads. Haba is a “mover and a shaker” with vision, energy and zeal. But he badly needs a solid 4-wheel drive vehicle to carry him around his underdeveloped country. Politically unstable Guinea (83% Mslm.) is more like Haiti than like Rwanda. I’d appreciate your prayers again as the adventure continues. May His Kingdom continue to advance!



October 2019 Dom. Rep. and Colorado visits
November 21, 2019, 6:50 pm
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Calix and Elea

No.1 Son with no. 1 granddaughter Elea (the face painter)


Since our last letter; we received (Sept.10-22) our three little granddaughters Elea (4), Heidi (2) and Eva (15 months) for an enjoyable and exhausting visit. At around 5AM each morning, Eva (15 months) and I were among the first customers at Dunkin Donuts for a morning walk allowing my wife to catch up on missing sleep. An espresso helped get my sleepy eyes lined-up with their sockets as Eva slobbered over a mini-donut from her stroller in a local park filled with egrets and ducks just barely awake… Children teach us much about sinful human nature as well unconditional love. It’s not surprising that Victor Hugo once quipped that he “didn’t understand God until he became a father.”

On Sept.25, I left for the second part of a church history course for our Haitian student group in the Dominican Republic which meets in Santo Domingo the last week of each month. The students’ academic levels vary greatly. Hopefully, even the less experienced gleaned from the course a few ideas from the inspiring examples of some of our illustrious predecessors in the Faith. Wisdom means avoiding the mistakes of the past, which, in my opinion, is why we study history in the first place. We considered the influence of the so-called 18th century “Enlightenment”– with its philosophical a priori denying the supernatural– and the resulting ‘liberal’ theology which devastated much of the modern Western church. Pray that our third world students will avoid a similar fate..

Tradition has the visiting professor preach for the Sunday worship service at the Haitian church of pastor Naasson who organizes the study program. His church meets in an open-air upper room overlooking the busiest highway in Santo Domingo where the eternal din of the passing traffic makes any verbal communication a challenge. The service consists of two hours of fervent if not harmonious singing and prayer followed by the sermon delivered with the help of an inadequate sound system which regularly fails when it’s not blaring feedback at the 50-60 mostly young Haitians in assistance. It’s an acoustical aesthetic torture, like forcing a Mozart aficionado to listen to 100 decibels of heavy metal. I kept reminding myself that the sound emanating from the devoted hearts of these zealous worshipers is surely sweet music to Him who overlooks all our inadequacies.

After returning to Florida, there was less than a week before my scheduled trip (Oct.6-12) to Haiti to teach a course in hermeneutics for Pastor Dony St. Germain’s students in Jérémie (pop.35,000), an isolated town on the southwestern peninsula of the country. Its residents were apparently punished for their rebellious proclivities against Papa Doc Duvalier back in the early 60’s, as he refused them a paved road to their remote town. What’s more, Jérémie took a direct hit from hurricane Matthew in 2016. Recovery has been slow and painful.

I taught in Jérémie once before some five years ago and was looking forward to returning as I fondly recall the zeal of the students. But, recent political turmoil in Haiti has made travel there too dangerous so the trip had to be postponed. Fuel prices have risen dramatically and even the most basic necessities have become inaccessible to many. Most foreign aid sent to Haiti ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians. The mysterious disappearance of over $2 billion from a subsidized Venezuelan oil program was the main catalyst for the recent anti-government demonstrations. The situation has become almost unbearable. Our Florida Bible school colleague Pastor G. (from Jacmel, Haiti) lost a brother there recently when the ambulance driver bringing the sick man to the hospital ran out of gas on the road and could not procure any more. The patient died in the car by the roadside. Such tragic stories are all-too-common in Haiti, alas.

With the trip to Haiti shelved, Aline and I took advantage of an invitation from a brother in a small fledgling church in Colorado to share something of our vision for the French-speaking world with some brethren in the Centennial State.

It was a providential opportunity to seek new partners for our ministry. Indeed, the recent promotion to Glory of several of our erstwhile supporters, and two consecutive sub-par months, have wiped-out much of the surplus in our MTW support account. Travel to Africa is expensive. Still, it makes more sense for us to bring the teaching to Africa rather than bring Africans to the West (even more costly) as experience has shown that many never return home after their studies…

Meanwhile, animist and Islamic opposition notwithstanding, the French-speaking West African church continues to grow numerically and the need for basic biblical instruction is greater than ever. The African fields are indeed ripe for harvest. We have more invitations than we can accommodate as there’s a shortage of teachers for the 24 French speaking countries on that continent. I’ve two trips scheduled for the next two months (Rwanda Nov.1-16) and Guinea (Nov.29-Dec.7).

At 66, I’m still willing and able (how much longer?) to go if we can find a few more willing to help send me. Hence this appeal. Consider it a tip on an investment that pays eternal dividends… for that’s what it is. We’d be glad to visit your church to share more personally something of our vision. Just send us a word…



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…