Marc Mailloux's Blog


August 2017
August 18, 2017, 2:38 pm
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Marc, Aline, Eve a Arles

Marc+Aline with friend Evelyne in front of Eglise St. Trophime (12-15th century) in Arles

 

“Que tout mon être loue l’Eternel et n’oublie aucun de Ses bienfaits” Ps.103:2
Dear friends,

I’m writing this from the Languedoc region of France where we come for our annual summer ministry, always a highlight of the year as we get to spend time with our older son and make ourselves useful to the feeble French church. There’s a lot to love about France: the televised exploits of the “Tour de France” cycle racers pedaling up the magnificent Alpine and Pyrenees Mountains at a mind-boggling pace; a sporting perspective for admiring a very special piece of God’s real estate.

We did many trips between Alès (Aline’s home town in the foothills of the Cévennes mts.) where we stayed at her parents’ old “mazet” (provincial farmhouse), now up for sale, and the Nimes area where our son lives. On those morning drives we enjoyed the warm, passionate voice of radio host Eve Ruggerie commenting on the lives of the great composers as introduction to their delightful compositions.

Only 25 miles away from Alès, but closer to the Rhone valley, our son’s adopted home area is one of vineyards and olive groves as far as the eye can see. As the day heats up under the bright summer sun, the familiar chants of “cigales” (cicadas) serves as background music while the sweet aroma of lavender borne on prevailing ‘mistral’ winds provides an agreeable olfactory accompaniment.

Mealtimes—always a sacred moment in France—often included savory red tomatoes, and the incomparable taste of “pélardons” (goat’s milk cheese), specialty of the Cévennes region, with local fruit including cantaloupe and peaches which seem so much sweeter this side of the Atlantic, not to mention the abundant succulent figs on the trees at the Maurin property. How could one not be grateful here?

On free afternoons, I’d head over to the ‘Parc des Cordeliers’ in Anduze (pop.3500) where the regulars, retirees, and a few vacationers play casual games of pétanque for hours. The inimitable metallic sound of the “boules” striking each other under the cool shade of the “micocoulier” (hackberry) trees along with the anise-based ‘pastis’ drink offered by the winners to the losers after the games are more enjoyable features of S. France. The level of play is high here, and any southern French village boasts at least a half-dozen aficionados such as Gerard, an 82-year-old retired miner from Alès—who could easily beat the best players in N. America.

We had lunch many days with Aline’s parents. Her dad’s waning health (he has only half a lung left), doesn’t stop him from enjoying the dry rosé wines with which we wash down the savory delicacies, including “tomates à l’ail” covered with a Maurin family specialty—an unbeatable olive-oil-mustard-anchovy-paste dressing that would probably make your sandals taste good.

Aline, Calix and I took in a couple of Molière plays at the annual theatre festival in Avignon, just thirty minutes from where our son lives. More than 1400 productions are presented in that beautiful walled city during a three week period each July! Moliere’s amazing verbal genius and the actors’ brilliant thespian artistry were spellbinding: a treat for the ears like a lyrical rendition of a Mozart sonata. Add the ubiquitous street animation and the sunny dry “méridional” weather and know that it doesn’t get any better on this earth than S. France in the summer!

But all is not well in French paradise, as the aforementioned joys are accompanied by the proportional frustrations of any Christian attempting to steer his mostly indifferent acquaintances to the sublime truths of the gospel. This summer I preached four times, thrice at the Anduze temple (largest in France) where worship services were attended by an encouraging average of 100-150 people, half of whom were visiting Dutch campers. The last service was in a quaint 17th century chapel in the remote, bucolic village of Thoiras.

Equally encouraging were encounters with some of the locals (including some pétanque buddies) like the aforementioned Gerard, who lost both his sons (motorcycle accident and cancer) and who listened attentively as I shared a brief summary of my sermon on the meaning of suffering from the book of Job. Likewise Marcel, another pétanque player, told me matter-of-factly that he spends his time going to the funerals of acquaintances while fatalistically anticipating his own. As so few French attend Sunday worship services, one needs to seize any occasion to share the gospel. France needs Hope.

A visit to the famous “Musée du Désert” recalled the faithful exploits of Aline’s heroic 17-18th- century Huguenot ancestors—courageous in defense of the Faith.                   Proportionately dismaying is the rapid unraveling of the modern French society, as even professing Christians include a large number of composite families with little apparent appreciation of the sanctity of marriage. Many professing ‘believers’ drift from one partner to another with devastating consequences for their bewildered, victimized children.

Aline’s 44 year old niece Stephanie—a veritable poster-child for the modern dysfunctional French family—died in June from drug abuse. Her life was a mess. A deathbed tear running down her cheek as Aline’s brother shared the gospel with S. in a comatose state left a ray of hope. Many more tears will have to flow, alas, to avoid the inevitable judgment on France.

Blessings to all, and special thanks for those who make this work possible,

Marc+Aline

PHOTOS:                                                                                                                                                  Aline’s dad “Pape Robert”, Marc, Aline’s mom “Mamie Danielle”.                                         Son Calix and Aline in Avignon



June-July 2017
August 18, 2017, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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Dear friends,

On May 31, Aline and I, with our younger son Justin, boarded an American flight to DFW en route to California to see daughter Anaïs and new granddaughter Heidi (born May 13). We weren’t seated together and I took seat 19B next to a well-dressed man of African origin. As it turned out, 72 year old Dr. T., a physician/oncologist, was from West Africa though he’d done his medical studies in France before moving to America. We hit it off immediately and talked about everything from ‘sailing ships to ceiling wax to cabbages and kings’ during the three-hour flight to Dallas. The inevitable “what do you do for a living?” led to a discussion about the gospel with this most congenial, open-minded acquaintance from a Moslem family. I happened to have a copy of “l’évangile selon Luc” in my carry-on bag as well as a French edition of Dr. Kennedy’s apologetic “Pourquoi je crois” to leave with him. Coincidence of course. We plan to get together upon our return to S. Florida…

Aline and I had a great, albeit exhausting, time with our granddaughters in Orange County where my wife will stay until June 27. We celebrated Eléa’s birthday a week in advance as she turned two on June 11. As for baby Heidi; she’s still something of an eating-sleeping-defecating machine but with a sweet smile and disposition to match. Her older sister is another story altogether: the strong-willed child who wakes you up each morning at 5:00 and wears you out so thoroughly during the day that her 7 PM bedtime comes just before yours’. Whew! She’s a delight as well as a challenge and both girls reconfirm our conviction that having grandchildren is God’s way of rewarding you for not killing your children. Still, I pray for Aline and Anaïs’ endurance as they have the more strenuous role while I returned to Florida on June 6.
While in California, our son-in-law Eric arranged for me to share our ministry vision with some 40 men (at an AM Bible study) from their church. Hopefully some will help us seize the new opportunities opening up in French West Africa where I’ve been asked to collaborate with an American ministry (‘Equipping Leaders International’) currently working in Liberia and seeking to extend their training program to eager French-speaking Africa. I plan to attend their next seminar in Monrovia in November. I’d hoped to combine that trip with a teaching invitation in Burundi and avoid another taxing trans-Atlantic trip. Alas, a schedule conflict makes that impossible. So we’re praying for discernment, wondering if it’s wise to decline any ‘Macedonia call’ (cf. Acts 16:9)? Until now, we’ve always gone where we’ve been invited. So if the funds are available, I’ll pray that my aging body can handle another African excursion.

A brief visit to the PCA’s General Assembly in N.C. (June 13-15) with brother Gordon W. included a meeting with leaders of the aforementioned E.L.I. who share the same conviction and vision for the numerous but ill-instructed new believers in Africa. While
in Greensboro, I also met Patrick L. from my home town who’s called to minister among the Chippewa Indians in Minnesota.

Other travels this summer include a July 2-6 visit to Rhode Island with my dad (92) and sister (Andree Seu Peterson) to see cousin D. and encourage her in the faith.
On July 12, Aline and I leave for our annual month of ministry in France where we’ll be filling-in at a church whose Dutch pastor is returning to Holland definitely for the welfare of his young children. The church in Anduze will soon be shepherded by the French wife of an American missionary as it cannot afford to pay for a full-time pastor.

I’ve five sermons to prepare which will be translated into Dutch for the many tourists from the Netherlands who make up a majority of the faithful at the summer worship services. Such is the situation of the church in spiritually frigid Western Europe where France is the Arctic of the Christian world and the center of Christendom is now closer to Nairobi than to London.

Back in S. Florida, we continue our weekly radio spots as well as teaching in our Haitian Bible school using B.Chapell’s excellent “Prêcher” (“Christ Centered Preaching”) as the basis of a homiletics course. Our Haitians students are better than average orators, but most suffer from a fragmented view of the Bible. We remind them often that if their sermon would not offend a Jew or even a Moslem, then they probably haven’t preached Christ.                                                                                                                                                  blessings,                                                                                                                                                     Marc + Aline



Mailloux Musings May 2017
May 6, 2017, 2:22 am
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Ouagadougou church

Ouagadougou church

Dear friends,

I’m writing this at the airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast where I’ve just finished the second week of a church history course. The previous week I had a group of twenty “Burkinabés” in Ouagadougou for the same course. It was an encouraging, albeit exhausting fortnight—six hours/day of lecturing. I’m eagerly awaiting my red-eye night flight to Paris, whence I’ll catch the flight to Miami. Riding to the airport in a taxi, I wondered how the cabby could make a living with the thousands of taxis on the streets competing for relatively few fares and gas at over $4.50/gallon. He claimed to work from 5 AM ‘til 10 PM, driving around 250 kms. every day in city traffic. His is the plight of thousands of others….

I hadn’t gotten much sleep during the week in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso which means “land of the people of integrity.” The lodging for the visiting professors—in the same building as the classroom—is adequate, but the electricity and water were often not functioning and it was around 40°C (104°F) most of the time. I forced myself to go for an afternoon walk each day after class, if only about a mile or two to a main artery where one can buy mangoes and pineapple (two of the Lord’s succulent masterpieces) from street vendors for a song. The “Burkinabés” are most likable people, courteous and hospitable. The population is comprised of about 50% Moslems, 20% Christian, with the rest mostly animists. They seem to get along well…

“Cote d’Ivoire” is significantly wealthier and, after its independence from France in 1960, was well-governed by the benevolent Houphouet Boigny until his death in 1993. Moslems comprise almost 40% of its population (vs. 30% Christian) and 30% animists. Little friction here either. One can walk the streets of either Ouagadougou or Abidjan in relative security. It was about a twenty minute walk from the Pentecostal boarding house where I stayed to the church where the classes were held—a welcomed bit of exercise in spite of the intensely humid heat which would make summer in S. Florida seem refreshingly cool. Normally, I could have changed my sweat-drenched shirt each hour but, in such a climate, one grows accustomed to smelling like a mountain goat. Still, I have never been more grateful for air-conditioning. In both countries, the students were eager and receptive and that more than made up for any minor discomfort.

For a church history textbook, we used the excellent “Précis de l’Histoire de l’Eglise” by the late J.M. Nicole. This classic volume, by a godly and distinguished scholar who—in his long black coat, white hair and beard (I met him once in my student days)—looked somewhat like an add for Quaker Oats. Anyone and anything important in the history of the church is noted in M. Nicole’s book which is now in its 8th edition. Still, it took some additional effort to explain to the less-analytical Africans the finer points of the various Christology controversies in the early church and how the Christian faith hung in the balance over a single Greek “iota” in the famous 4th century Arian heresy (“homousious,” of the same substance vs. “homoiousious,” of similar substance). Meanwhile, the Africans were proud to acknowledge that there were perhaps churches in Ethiopia before the gospel ever made it to France (cf. Acts 8). But they find it puzzling that the Europeans have largely rejected the Faith to the point where there are now surely more believers in Africa and Asia than in Europe. The old continent, like the US, is a “cut-flower” civilization where significant residual Christian influence subsists but, like a beautiful flower severed from its roots, it is rapidly wilting.

When they asked me how that could have happened, I could only echo the wisdom of Cotton Mather who—in 17th century New England—lamented that “virtue had begotten prosperity, but the daughter hath devoured the mother.” As for Africa; the Faith is
spreading rapidly on the “Dark Continent,” though it might take a few generations for the gospel to eradicate the pagan traditions— assuming the Africans are wise enough to saturate their culture with the Word of God. I didn’t sleep a wink on the overnight Air France flight from Abidjan to Paris, even as the “Ivoirien” fellow seated next to me snored
the entire way. Oh to be able to sleep on airplanes! Fortunately, the Boeing 777 was equipped with a state of the art entertainment center so I watched a modern version of Tolstoy’s classic “Anna Karenina.” Adultery is big trouble, in any milieu.

We landed in Paris at 5:30 AM and I waited until 1 PM before boarding the ten-hour flight to Miami. By departure time, I felt like a zombie from lack of sleep and envied the Hispanic couple next to me who dozed through most of the flight. Life’s not fair. I arrived home from the MIA airport Saturday evening via a UBER ride from a 22 year-old Cuban-American who’s just gone through a major romantic deception which left him receptive to the gospel. Pray for Angel… Jet-lag kicked in after Sunday worship service and a delightful Easter meal compliments of our good friends the ever-hospitable Newcombes.

At home, I collapsed in front of the television awaking just in time to hear the rookie winner of the “RBC Heritage Golf Tournament” congratulated by the television commentators on his Easter Sunday victory at Hilton Head Island. With unpretentious simplicity, Wesley Bryan reacted matter-of-factly saying: “Yes, it feels great to win…But today is not about me but about the Savior.” Amen.

Marc+Aline

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Marc with Ivory Coast students



Mailloux Musings March 2017
May 6, 2017, 2:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

justin-salsa-macho-pub

Son Justin (shirtless) with friend Sebastien in front of their “Salsa Macho” billboard

Dear friends,

We made two trips abroad since our last letter; both to the island of Hispaniola. The first excursion (Jan.16-19) was to the Dominican Republic where our son has a group of acquaintances—including three American couples—who gather together for a monthly Bible study without a teacher. In fact, the group had been victimized in their thinking by a visiting American missionary who confused them with his grossly antinomian heresy. So ours’ was an effort to do some ‘damage control’ underlining the importance of God’s law for the Christian’s sanctification. We were well received and are planning another visit ASAP. Indeed, we were even blessed with opportunities to share the good news at a providential soirée with a few high-rollers from Canada, England etc. to whom our son gives tennis and surfing lessons.

The next trip was to Haiti—just across the island where the fastest route—road conditions oblige—passes through Miami, believe it or not. From Jan.21-28 we taught 16 students for the “Christian Worldview” course in the Master’s Program of Indiana Wesleyan U. at the “Séminaire Emmaus” near Cape Haitian. They were among the best we’ve ever had in Haiti: intelligent, studious, and receptive—the academic trifecta. That made our work fun.
We’re often asked if the situation is improving in that country, especially since the devastating 2010 earthquake. The short answer is “slowly” but requires an explanation. Perhaps more financial aid has been sent to Haiti (per capita) than to any other land. But the vast majority ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians (there’s a special place in hell for them) rather than being used to improve the pathetic infrastructure. In fact there are few paved roads in Haiti and many Haitians are still without electricity and running water. Still, it’s not a question of what needs to be done concretely as many “can-do” Americans might think. What needs to be fixed in Haiti, as elsewhere, are the hearts of the people. For there, as elsewhere, most problems are essentially the consequences of sin.
An example; our friend and visionary Haitian brother Joseph M. whom we referred to in a previous letter (Dec. 2014) took it upon himself to clean up some of the tons of debris (there is no trash collection in most of Haiti) that litters the streets in his home town (pop.100,000). It was an effort to apply an important tenant of the cultural mandate (‘care for the earth’ Gen.2:15) while restoring a measure of the town’s civic
pride for which he mobilized his church; an altogether noble endeavor. The fallout of his effort: He was castigated by many of the citizens who accused him of trying to curry their favor for latent political ambitions. At least he tried…
Another example: Two Haitian women were struggling to survive selling sugar-cane and mangoes in the market place in a town where we occasionally teach. An American missionary pastor’s wife suggested they diversify, selling something else to separate themselves from the many competitors with the same produce. So they began selling avocados and soon their business was booming i.e., until they were brutally murdered by some locals, jealous of their newfound success.

These two incidents are indicative of a major problem in Haitian society—the green monster of jealously. Not that the Haitians have a monopoly on this sinful human trait—far from it. “Schadenfreude” is a German word and a universal phenomenon.

But there’s a particular danger in succeeding in Haiti where another’s success is often viewed with the utmost contempt. Indeed most Haitians seem far from understanding the example of the likes of auto-magnate Henry Ford whose tremendous success
significantly increased the size of the 20th century economic pie and prospered many. As the late JFK liked to say: “A rising tide lifts all boats…” That may be obvious to many Americans but remains mysteriously occulted from the minds of most Haitians. One missionary told us that Haiti was like a bucket of crabs on which one need not place a lid for as soon as one tried to scale to walls to freedom, he’d immediately be pulled down by the others. So it’s hardly surprising that of Haitians who manage to obtain a university degree leave the country.

Still, there is hope for Haiti yet. The Lord has mercifully raised up some devout Haitian believers who are lucid with regards to the particular problems which beset their country and eager to get involved. In addition to the aforementioned Joseph M., and MTW missionaries Esaie Etienne, Dony St. Germain and Jean Paul working in various parts of the country, I recently met a devoted young Haitian mother from a S. Florida PCA church with an exciting vision for promoting literacy among her mostly illiterate (75%) compatriots. She needs help from a French or Creole speaking foreigner as Haitians–she insisted–are less-inclined to listen to their own. Write to Nicole J. at gesnerjoe@yahoo.com for more details.
Haiti will be changed one heart at a time through the work of the Spirit and the Word. That might take longer than we’d like but one’s work for the Lord is never in vain. Blessings, Marc + Aline20170127_101250



Mailloux musings Jan.2017
February 3, 2017, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Dear friends,

20161209_170824            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.

Blessings,

MM

PRAISE:

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.

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PRAY:

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.

peggy-o-in-ms



Mailloux musings Nov.2016
November 23, 2016, 1:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

peggy-o-in-ms

With Mrs. Peggy O. at rest home near Jackson, Ms.

“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)

Dear friends,

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+Aline

marcgerard-cropped                             Marc and Gerard H. at Amelia Island tournament



Mailloux musings September 2016
September 15, 2016, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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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Granddaughter Elea with her uncle Justin

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Joel, Gerard (both from Brittany), Marc (ancestors from Brittany) at S.Florida petanque tournament