The private French Christian school where Angela and I volunteer and our daughter attends, (Collège-Daniel) recently acquired some land with some “cabins” on it. We have a project this summer to renovate those cabins into classrooms and office space for this coming September. We have partnered with EuroTeam, a branch of Greater Europe Mission, to oversee the renovation work.
At present the project is in jeopardy as we lack the workers to actually accomplish the renovation. This post is a call to any/all who might be interested in participating in a 2-week short-term renovation-project missions trip to the Alsace region of France this summer. Individuals and/or groups are welcome.
This printable PDF flyer gives more details and could be posted in churches or Christian schools, etc. Please feel free to pass on this blog post and/or PDF file to potentially interested people/groups.
For those who are interested, please use the contact information in the PDF file as WE are NOT the ones coordinating the team; that is what EuroTeam is doing. Thanks!
The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.
It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.
The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.
Seems to me that the two are linked; that is to say, greed and consumption at the individual as well as corporate/institutional level would be behind both crises. Just read an interesting passage this morning in Isaiah 9:10 where Israel, in arrogant and ignorant rebellion says about the judgment/chastisement that has befallen them:
The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with smooth stones;
The sycamores have been cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.
It says in subsequent verses that the Lord arms their enemies and spurs them on and yet they do not turn back to Him. This is a picture, in my opinion, of what judgment looks like (and what our ignorant response usually is). A crises arises. An enemy attacks. We don’t say, “Hmm…what is God saying?” or, “This must be the Lord.” No, we say, “(darn), this fell down. I’ll have to prop it up differently.”
As to this bit of news about deforestation…I wonder if it will make the headlines? I wonder if we’ll seek how to steward this planet differently? I wonder what the Church’s response will be?
Today’s guest lecturer on leadership is the prolific author Henri J.M. Nouwen who will be quoting from his book The Wounded Healer .
Mr. Nouwen…(polite applause)
Compassion must become the core and even the nature of authority.
The compassionate man stands in the midst of his people but does not get caught in the conformist forces of the peer group, because through his compassion he is able to avoid the distance of pity as well as the exclusiveness of sympathy.
Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that men feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty that the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends’ eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate man nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.
This compassion is authority because it does not tolerate the pressures of the in-group, but breaks through the boundaries between languages and countries, rich and poor, educated and illiterate. This compassion pulls people away from the fearful clique into the large world where they can see that every human face is the face of a neighbor. Thus the authority of compassion is the possibility of man to forgive his brother, because forgiveness is only real for him who has discovered the weakness of his friends and the sins of his enemy in his own heart and is willing to call every human being his brother.
(This post is an excerpt of my daughter Rachel’s Facebook post about her participation in the Freedom Walk in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago)
Around 300 years ago, a religious group of people suffered severe persecution in Switzerland. A certain Lord Ribeaupierre invited those people to come and live in Alsace, France and farm the land. Among his conditions were that the people take a ‘vow of silence’ and refrain from any kind of witnessing or proselytizing. They agreed, moved, and withdrew as religious communities from the outside world. Later, many emigrated to the United States.
This story is about the Anabaptists, who are still around and known as Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren. And strange as it may sound, this is the reason I went to Pennsylvania last week.
Sins committed in the past can be confessed, repented of, and forgiven in the present. God leads individuals and groups today to stand humbly in the place of their ancestors and deal with these sins. This work of reconciliation breaks off generational curse of sin and spiritual strongholds that affect and imprison places today.
A team of people from my church in France flew to Pennsylvania to ask forgiveness for having imposed the ‘vow of silence’ and to intercede (pray for) Lancaster by joining a group of various believers to complete a prayer walk around the perimeter of Lancaster county.
I was invited to join by the leaders of the prayer walk (who are good friends), and to help with translating for the French team!
And it was awesome.
Revival is coming to Lancaster.
Revival is coming to the Amish.
We saw some of the beginning signs of this in the 5 Amish families who prayer walked with us! A few years ago, they were given a supernatural healing ministry and were consequently excommunicated from the Amish church. Now they are a community and call their work Light of Hope Ministries. They see themselves as bridging the gap between the Amish and the rest of the Christian community. I LOVED (lovedlovedloved) being with them, spending time with the children, mixing with another culture, and being challenged by their passionate spirituality and vision.
Read more about them here: https://charismamag.com/articles/index.php?id=17482
Because of the French team and their need for translation, I feel like God has also used this week to give me a second chance – (that I really didn’t deserve – to appreciate the French and the French language. For the last few years, I’ve generally resented speaking French and feeling doomed to substandard communication. Despite what people say, I know just how far from fluency I am! Not only that, but my confidence had gone way down after being away at BFA for two years…
So, knowing that He could, I asked God to help me translate beyond my abilities this week. There were MORE than enough opportunities to serve, and of every variety – French to English/English to French, simultaneous/phrase-by-phrase, informal/formal, one-on-one/group situations… and yes, many times it was easier than I anticipated. God was helping me! I learned several things: first, that I may actually be gifted in translating. Second, I learned better to dismiss the fear of being judged for my mistakes. The fact that the people in the French team all know and love me helped. I had to think about others first, and realize when they weren’t understanding… forcing me to be very NOT self-centered. Not always easy.
I’ve been on a total of eight plane trips this summer, and – what are the odds – been given a window seat every time. I know heaven isn’t really a straight up shoot from earth (more of a parallel realm), and yet, there’s something about that “God’s eye view” that takes my mind outside the box… and I smile at the big screaming deal we think we are.
Do you ever wonder what it would look like to fly over the US on July 4th in the evening? I do.
Ok Geography Scouts…Quick! Where’s Trier, Germany!?
Yeah…I didn’t know either.
In fact, before May (2007), I’d never even heard of it. That’s when our friends Rusty and Janet Richards from PRAY BIG in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (read more about some of their ministry focus here:https://anabaptistreconciliation.org/index.html) were in Guebwiller, France to participate in a weekend with Martin Scott at our church. During this weekend, they told us about a worship initiative that they had a heart to undertake in Trier, Germany the 5-13 September.
It seems that Trier, a city of 100,000 near the border of Luxembourg in western Germany (now you know!) is having a celebration this year to mark a very significant anniversary.
Ok History Wonks…Quick! What happened in 307AD!?
Yeah…I didn’t know that either.
307AD, a year after Constantine was declared by his troops Emperor of the Roman Empire in York, England, he began his reign…in Rome, right? No…apparently, he was declared “Augustus” in Trier, Germany, where his father had ruled and he set up his residence there for 10 years. Who was actually in charge of the Roman Empire at that time was apparently somewhat in question!
Ok, so much for moldy history and small cities in Germany…so why are we worshiping there anyway?
Well, this same Constantine, while living and ruling in Trier, was engaged in an internal power struggle in the Roman Empire with Caesar Maxentius. In 312AD, before the battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine saw a vision of a cross in the sky (in the sun, depending upon the account of the story) and heard a voice that said “in this sign you will conquer.” The rest is, as we know and say, history…Constantine painted crosses on his soldier’s shields and won the battle; attributed the victory to God’s blessing on his enterprise, and perhaps most significantly, subsequently turned the tables of the relationship between the State and this young movement called Christianity. Up until this time, Christians had been horribly persecuted, but Constantine’s change of fortunes put an end to that. Christianity became the favored religious practice of the State and Christians went from being persecuted outcasts to favored citizens with influence. Most of history has credited Constantine with the spread of Christianity in Europe and, of course after that, the world.
The famous story of Constantine’s conversion is very significant because it exposes the heart of the difference between the kingdom of God and empire. Constantine saw a cross in the sky and heard a voice telling him “In this sign you shall conquer”. But he did not understand it in Christian terms. Jesus said “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The way of life in the kingdom of God is to give yourself in love for others like Jesus did. What a difference it might have made to the history of the world if Constantine had received his vision in those terms! But instead he took it to mean that faith in the Christian God and the support of the Christian church would make him a successful emperor in military and economic terms. His subsequent success and his protection of the church were interpreted as the blessing of God. As a result imperial sovereignty was increasingly seen to be God’s way of rulership, and the appropriate shape for authority both within church and society.
And in the words of Rusty Richards:
So when I read that Trier was planning this big celebration, I realized that it was in reality a season dedicated to worshiping the empire spirit. I asked the Lord to let me go there during this time to establish an altar of worship to the True God. It is not my intention to engage enemy spirits. I simply want to come to this place in the spirit of worship to Jesus. This in itself is probably very confrontational. There is an enormous shift happening in the world right now. It is a critical time in history. There are clashes of kingdoms and empires in the natural and in the spiritual. I want to take my place in advancing the Kingdom of God.
So the team’s desire in this trip was simply to establish an altar of worship in Trier. Using the principle that worship establishes the authority and rulership of that which is worshiped, we simply want to re-establish God as the authority in Trier by worshiping Him (SeePsalm 22:3for a Godly example and many ungodly examples among the nations elsewhere in the Old Testament). Many more things are to come, but this was s trip for re-laying foundations…in a place where many of the foundations of Western culture as we know it today were layed nearly 2000 years ago. (For more history of Trier, including some references dating to over 2000 years ago, see this link:https://www.tricon.homepage.t-online.de/5080.htm)
While it is possible to drop down in a parachute and worship God anywhere, God has usually already established people in different geographical locations. Working with the local Body of Christ is really crucial so that what is deposited by a visiting team is nurtured and so that the visiting team better understands the realities of the locality. In truth, “the team” is always those who are visiting and those who are already established there working hand-in-hand to hear what God is saying and to do it. I’d venture to say that any other model of ministry probably lacks a fullness that God intends.
We were exceedingly blessed by the connection with a church in Trier called “Gemeinde des Lebendigen Gottes“, which means Church of the Living God. They are an example of a God who is alive and active in Trier. Their church is very multi-cultural, led by a multi-cultural pastoral couple, Mike and Claudia Williams, an anglophone African from Ghana and a German, respectively. They have a heart to serve the outcasts of the city and consequently the outcasts have come in, drawn by concrete demonstrations of Jesus’ love. In accepting them just as they are, for example those who are weighed down with sickness, mental illness, demon possession, or those who are recent immigrants from other countries that may not even speak German yet (17 nations are represented in this church), this church of a couple hundred really has their hands full and must lean daily on the Lord for provision and wisdom. The Lord made this connection and the church, rather than simply letting us use a room and leaving us to “do our thing” has wanted to be deeply involved and serve the visiting team all the time we were there. The majority of the team was housed in host families from the church and they provided us 3 meals a day, prepared by a wonderful team of Chinese that are part of the fellowship. The worship times were often conducted by groups composed of church members and the visiting team…playing together for the first time, of course, and having a wonderful time in the Lord singing in German, French and English.
In the last couple of years, intercession and worship ministry trips have largely been something that I’ve done alone or done with my daughter Rachel. Recently, Angela and I have purposed to make ministry trips occasions, where as much as possible, we engage together as a couple. Not having done that in a while, we are definitely a bit rusty at it and there are challenges in how we approach and see such events differently, but these are great catalysts for discussion and prayer. There are also financial and logistical challenges involved.
It was a step of faith to go…for Angela because of concerns with how she might be feeling physically…for me because of the logistics of caring for our children while we were gone were not as “neat and tidy” as I would have liked. But God rewarded that step with a time that was rich in worship and relationship…between us and with others…and lots of little special blessings from our loving Heavenly Father (sweet fellowship as a couple, a wonderful bed to sleep in, increased facility in speaking German, deep worship times, easy travel, kids were fine at home, etc.) to let us know that we were firmly in His hands and walking in His ways.
While we went by ourselves as a couple, there were 7 others from our church in Guebwiller, 12 in all from France, 3 from Belgium and 9 from the US during our time there and some more to come after we left. It was a joy to work together in worshiping the living God in the Church of the Living God, to get to know new people, to see more connections for the future that cross the Atlantic and the French-German borders (my two big desires!).
Much more I could say about the significance of Trier and our time there, but I’ve droned on enough here. If you’re in the neighborhood, sometime, Trier is worth a visit, but while there think about what God wants to do there and run to your Heavenly Father to pull it from the heavenly realm into the earthly reality so that “His glory covers the earth as the waters cover the seas!“
I know it’s been a LONG time since the last entry but the blog’s not dead…just on the back-burner with a busy season of life.
Included in this busy season was my participation, along with my daughter Rachel, in the 2nd week of a two-week prayer walk, undertaken by the intercessors of our church (and others) between Saint-Louis, France (in Alsace, just north of the city of Basel, Switzerland), through Switzerland to Geneva, and on out into France…all the way to Lyon, France. The part that Rachel and I walked was from Lausanne, Switzerland to Lyon, France. Here’s my report…sorry for its length! ;c)
You can read about the general purpose of the walk at our church’s web site here. Also a more detailed document of some of the historical reasons for this specific prayer-walk can be found at our church’s web site here. A Google Maps view of the route can be found here.
We drove down from Alsace early on the morning of Friday, July 20th to Lausanne where we met up with others from Switzerland and elsewhere in France to hopefully begin walking around 9am.
Lausanne was where the walkers who did the first week of the prayer walk had ended 2 days prior, and apparently it had been difficult to enter into Lausanne and stay together as a group. We had a bit of the same difficulty in walking out of Lausanne towards Geneva.
At this point, it’s important to understand a bit of the daily logistics of such a walk. To accomplish a walk from Basel to Lyon in two weeks, one needs to cover about 40-50 kilometers a day. If each person had to walk that, it would only be athletes that could participate on such a walk…and we’re far from that! On this walk we had people from their teens to their 70’s participating on this walk, and only a handful were in tip-top shape.
So how is this accomplished? We walk in “relay-style.” In our case we had between 11 and 13 people walking and we had 3 cars traveling with the walkers. We would send out a couple of walkers and a car would travel on about 2 kilometers and stop and send out a few more walkers. In the meantime the other cars would leap-frog the car and walkers and send out other walkers and wait for the walkers that had been sent out behind them to complete their two kilometers. So we had at any one point in time, 2 to 3 sections of 2 kilometers each being walked and prayed for simultaneously. The distance on a map can seem great but this relay-style walking makes it fly by.
As I said, we had a bit of difficulty walking out of Lausanne. There is a sort of “rhythm” that is necessary to walk in together as a team. Without it, this relay style of walking can get confusing. People alternate between driving and walking. Both drivers and walkers need to have some idea of the route if they come to a crossroads. Not every walker can drive. One has to be aware of who is walking where so as to have a driver for every car, etc., etc. Some people are naturally more aware and alert about logistical details. In our international team, not everyone was a native French speaker so language could definitely become an issue.
As we started out, I was definitely confused as to where each car was and was with an older, somewhat fearful French lady who was driving her niece’s car and I was waiting until I could wear my knee brace (left in a different car) before I started to walk. We managed to get out of Lausanne and on a fairly direct route to Geneva, but not without some stress about getting lost, etc.
While waiting for some walkers at one point in Lausanne, I noticed a small flock of sheep in a small field in the middle of an urban neighborhood. They were peacefully eating while nearby traffic and commuter trains zoomed by. As I reflected on the world-renowned wrist-watch industry of Switzerland, I felt God was saying that the Swiss have a gift for the “rhythm of life” that is able to tightly integrate the beauty of creation with the necessities of human life and that He wanted that rhythm to be learned by other nations too. When I did walk later that day, I was beating on my small doumbek drum and walking by myself. God reminded me again about rhythm and about a teaching that I’d recently heard about the redemptive gifts of a territory (Plumbline Ministries…download/listen to teachings here). It was at this point that I realized that in some respects we had started out our walk “out of step” with the land of Switzerland and its “rhythm.” We were ostensibly walking to honor Switzerland, but we were dishonoring it at a fundamental level. Later, one of our team members was filling up their car with gas at a Swiss service station and joked with the cashier in asking if gas was free for foreigners. The cashier said that foreigners in Switzerland were a pest and they should get out! In the first week, the team had heard about how France had historically not kept her promises to Switzerland. We had, indeed, struck a nerve.
We were a team of 2 Americans, 1 German, a bunch of French and 2 people from Switzerland (one of whom was actually a Flemish Belgian and the other born in Colombia and adopted by a couple in Switzerland). So, we were not a very “Swiss” team and our manner of walking had not taken into account a Swiss rhythm of life. We had come in a bit too “French”, I think. Consequently we were walking out of step with the gifting of the land of Switzerland and felt the dissonance and confusion in our team. When we purposed to really honor Switzerland and not try to “push” too hard, a rhythm was found in the relay walking.
The 2nd day we walked into Geneva and were privileged to have some former members of our church, who have since moved away, walk with us. It was a father and a son, and the father works with a ministry that is frequently in Switzerland. In addition to frequently being in Geneva, he was also helpful in helping us better understand the issue of money and the Swiss. While many are aware of the abuses of money in private Swiss bank accounts, this brother pointed out to us that the idea that the Swiss have a big problem with money is really false. He said that the Swiss are among the most generous in the world. Regularly, between a French meeting and a Swiss meeting, his ministry can expect to see an offering that is twice the size in Switzerland than in France. Of course all good gifts and talents can be twisted by the enemy for his devices, but as we walked into this very rich city of Geneva, we were able to bless the gift that Switzerland has of generosity and call forth the riches of this nation to be used for God’s glory. We also desire that the gifting for managing money that Switzerland has be taught to other nations as well.
Due to the difficulty of driving in a large city and our desire to visit and pray in several places in Geneva, we parked the cars at a parking garage and set out on foot. This proved to be physically a problem for me and my knee. If I’d have stopped walking at the point where we entered Geneva then I might have been able to go on the next day. As it was, the extra walking and being on my feet in Geneva pushed my knee too far. The rest of the walk I was a designated driver. More on that later.
In Geneva are several of the major historical points of the Protestant Reformation. We visited the College of John Calvin and prayed there. We felt that there was a touchstone of the Reformation where faith and education came together. Unfortunately that rich spiritual well has been largely stopped up. We prayed there for the releasing of those roots of faith in the training up of the young generations. After that we walked to the “Wall of the Reformers” in one of the city parks. This is an impressive monument to some of the major figures in the Reformation. I say some, because we noticed that there was a distinction of “rank” in where/how certain figures were represented. Notably, you have John Calvin, William Farel, Theodore de Beze, and John Knox in the center and very much larger than life! In my “reformation ignorance”, I’d never heard of Theodore de Beze and I knew that John Knox’s greatest impact was in Scotland, not Switzerland. Of interest was that Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, were not represented on the wall, but with a simple large block of stone off to the left and right.
What we saw in this was the divisions that were rife in the Reformation and the prevailing sentiment that “our brand” of Christianity was better than “yours.” This oneupmanship of the Reformation led to many cruel persecutions within the Body of Christ, notably with respect to the Anabaptist movement.
While praying at this monument, one of the young ladies in our group asked the question about the role of women in the Reformation. This was an opportunity to repent for the suppression of women in Protestant Reformation (and indeed in the Body of Christ as a whole) and to again pray for a new reformation in the Body of Christ in which “there is neither male nor female.”
After this we walked back to where we’d come into the city and sent new walkers on. Thinking I’d have it easier, I chose to go back to the cars in the parking garage. Well, that garage was a good distance away. All that walking in Geneva really took its toll on my knee. It was visibly swollen that night and as far as walking went, that was it for me for the rest of the week.
This was unfortunate from the standpoint of having a weak and sometimes painful knee, but God has a way of using things in ways we can’t foresee. The leader of our walk had received from the Lord several times that this walk would be done “in weakness.” That is to say that we would notice the need to rely on the Lord because our own capacities would be lacking. Well, he told me that he felt more spiritually weak than he had in a long time. Three of us had knee problems throughout. I felt weak physically after some of the longer car rides at the beginning and ending of certain days.
All this really drove me to keep pounding on the door of heaven and that’s a good place to be. God likes that sort of persistence and recognized need for Him. Additionally, my time as “designated driver” allowed me time to talk to one of our walkers, a German guy whom none of us knew before the walk. I think this was valuable for him, but also for me. He was (is) in the middle of a huge life transition and much about the walk was a challenge to him. His background is not charismatic and much of how the walk was carried out most definitely was with the freedom of expression of the Holy Spirit! He can understand French pretty well, but all-French-all-the-time was certainly a challenge for him. He could do English much better. As I said, he didn’t know anyone on the walk. He’s simply a German guy with a heart for France and a sense that God was asking him to do this walk.
All of this meant that he had a lot of questions and a lot to get off his chest. So, with a wide mixture of English, German and French, we had many a good discussion. I, for one, am thrilled to see more German-French connections out there!
At the end of 2 days, we walked out of Switzerland into France. We had one day that was in fairly rural, and very beautiful country as it is near the French Alps.
Our 4th day was interesting for two reasons. Firstly, we had to leave our first lodging where we’d spent 3 nights because we were walking too far away from it. The last two nights would be spent in Lyon. So, instead of simply taking 3 cars, we had to take 4 cars and all our overnight baggage as well. We had to walk of course too on this day. This was difficult because we didn’t have that many drivers and we had to make sure that we kept moving both walkers and cars in this leap-frog, relay fashion. Logistically, fairly difficult. Additionally, we transitioned from walking in the middle of nature to beginning to walk in the outskirts of Lyon…civilization. I saw the whole day a real day of transition. Kind of like a moving day where one has to really work hard to get the last things packed and moving all the things from one place to another is never easy. God often has us in such transitions as He positions us to work for His Kingdom where He wants us.
After the 4th day we were tired from “moving” and coming to a “sleeping-on-a-church-floor-with-no-showers-either” situation. The break of the 5th day was different, however. The 4th day had been sort of a breakthrough and the 5th day (5, the number of grace) would see the Lord graciously making a way where the way seemed difficult or impossible.
Then when we got to Lyon, our walking/driving connection became difficult because of one-way roads and multi-lane expressways. At one point, I was leading the caravan of 3 cars and had pulled off on an expressway before diving into downtown Lyon. We needed to make it to a certain downtown parking garage underground from a huge central pedestrian plaza. We determined by cell-phone with the walkers that they would need to go from where they were all the way on foot (longer than a normal walking stretch in our prayer walk) and we would need to find our way to this place downtown as there was no practical way to continue the walking relay with the cars. None of us really knew the way and our maps had gaps in them. I was leading the 3 cars. I let the other drivers know that we were simply heading for “Lyon centre” on the signs and once down there, we’d be looking for signs for the plaza. Other than that, we’d all have to be alert to stay together but if separated, we’d all simply try and find our way there.
The last car of the three was driven by someone who is some what “nervous/fearful” and it didn’t have much pickup either. The traffic was crazy and I only saw openings that could support about 2 cars that could really “get up and go”. So, I picked a gap and the first two cars “got up and went!” I prayed hard for the ladies in the last car but lamented that they would be on their own. Lo and behold, however, after 5 minutes of following “Lyon centre” signs, there they were! They had prayed and God made a supernatural gap for them! In our car was a recently graduated geography major. So, as soon as we were in “Lyon centre” I simply handed her my one-page photocopied map and she guided us (all three cars!) directly to where we needed to go! The walkers made it soon thereafter with lots of strength. Even in leaving Lyon to go back to the church in the suburbs, all three cars stayed together!
That night at the church, a gathering of intercessors in Lyon had been planned and it was “our service.” I’d not really known about this ahead of time, and the worship leading fell on my shoulders. I didn’t have a guitar with me so I asked about borrowing one but it was too late to get an acoustic/electric borrowed. At the church there happened to be an electric guitar (I’ve never really played electric guitar), but no strap and I didn’t have any music with me either (I’m usually glued to my lead sheets!). So, I sat down with the electric guitar and went through their overheads to see what songs I knew that they knew also. God provided a good set and I proceeded to make sure I remembered the chords for the songs. There was drumset at the church and some keyboards and a djembe. No one played keys so we had an electric guitar, drums, djembe and another girl singing…actually all ladies except me on the makeshift worship team!
Back to our German friend, and his traditional background… This meeting would be with a bunch of crazy intercessors and for music would be electric guitar and drums. He is a classically trained organ player and told me that in general, he found that modern worship music gave him the sense of “artificial joy.” This evening would probably be a challenge for him!
What was a great joy was to see him at the end of the evening, swaying, singing and waving a banner with gusto! He was able to put aside some pre-conceived notions of “form” and “structure” and simply worship God honestly in the form/structure that presented itself. What a blessing to see!
(I think I’m ready to go out and buy an electric guitar too…that was fun!)
The next day, we went and prayed with a Lyon intercessor at a Roman amphitheater in Lyon where in 177 AD the first martyrs in France were killed. In this same amphitheater (which seated 20,000) was the site of annual governmental meetings of the Gaul nations. So this was a place of shedding of innocent blood and of human power wielded. Indeed it shows some of the foundations of the city that need to be dealt with. This was the last thing we did for the walk before heading home.
The Lord was good and faithful throughout the walk. While walking, one lady saw some tiny ducklings swimming in a lake. They were small and insignificant but the wake that they created was huge behind them. We feel the same…
I need to blog about this before it becomes ancient history!
But…I don’t think the impact of this will fade into history to be forgotten. Indeed “ancient history” and “making history” are central to this.
What is this?
Well, I blogged about it a while ago in: “Risky Business…” It’s about a 3-week intercession walk along the borders of Alsace that we (our church, intercessors in the region, intercessors from other countries) recently completed.
I personally was involved in the logistics of the walk…mainly the communication. I also walked the 3rd week of the walk along with my daughter Rachel.
There were many moments in the walk that God was speaking to individuals and to the group as the borders of Alsace were walked by groups of 5-20 people. Hopefully at our church site there will be a fuller report by those who took notes at the daily debriefing. Those would be initially in French and I’ll work at getting them translated into English.
I’ll just explain two times that were particularly noteworthy in that 3rd week of the walk.
As background, some research this past spring into the local history of Alsace and Guebwiller in particular, brought to our attention some horrible war time experiences that the people of Alsace had suffered. These were not the war time experiences that you might quickly associate with Alsace in WWI and WWII. These were from the 30 Years’ Warway back in 1618-1648! Specifically during this conflict the climate of fear which developed in the Alsatian civilians was such that they did not even leave their homes to cultivate their land lest they be attacked. This led to starvation conditions and and people even exhuming human remains for food.
…hard to read…hard to write…imagine experiencing it…
A part of the invading/occupying force during the 30 Years’ War was from Sweden. During the 2nd week of the walk, the group came upon a large, old oak tree that had a marker indicating that it had been used by the Swedish during the 30 Years’ War to hang Alsatians. Hold that thought…
The Lord has His ways of orchestrating His redemptive purposes…
A few weeks before the walk, we got an email from a family from Sweden asking if they could join us during the 3rd week of the walk. They were going to be on staff at the OM Teen Street camp in Germany near that time and wanted to come a bit early and participate in the walk for a couple of days. They had heard about the walk through Martin Scott’se-mail newsletter (read his report of the 3rd week of the walk here). We were thrilled to have them come and indeed they were a blessing but I don’t imagine that we had any idea when they first asked just how key their presence and participation would be.
They joined us Tuesday morning and walked with us all day. It was a day where we got lost (took the wrong forest road) and ended up 9kms short of our goal for the day (about 40kms/day normally). The day ended in driving rain and we felt a fair amount of spiritual resistance. We ended the day near the foot of Mont Donon where there is some overt historical occult traces (roman and celtic temple remains, sacrificial stone, etc.). That evening in the debriefing time, the wife/mother of the Swedish family, Maria, mentioned that while we walked and prayed, she had had an image of a “large tree of unrighteousness” that we were uprooting as we prayed. Vito, our leader, took that as a cue that perhaps now was the time to share with them about the oak tree that they had seen the previous week during the walk and the history of the Swedish occupation of Alsace during the 30 Years’ War.
The Swedish family was not aware of these things and we did not want to press/push any “resolution” right then and there.
The next morning, Wednesday, August 2nd, at the foot of Mont Donon, before we started walking, we had a time of prayer to start the day. We broke bread and poured out wine and milk and honey on the bread and prayed for the region. At the end of this time the Swedish family (the father and mother and teenage daughter) came forward and, standing for Sweden, confessed, repented of, and asked forgiveness for the occupation of Alsace and the atrocities committed by the Swedes during the 30 Years’ War. It was a powerful time of reconciliation between the Alsatians and the Swedes and facilitated the rest of the day. We started walking down to St-Marie-aux-Mines while a small group want to the top of Mont Donon.
Meanwhile, another couple who walked with us the 3rd week, Rusty and Janet, from the States, had already been all this time in St-Marie-aux-Mines searching for the perfect spot.
They had come from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with a signed declaration of repentance to bury in the ground at St-Marie-aux-Mines.
Well, it turns out that also way back in history, just after the 30 Years’ War, the aristocratic Ribeaupierre family in Alsace invited persecuted Swiss Anabaptists to come and farm their war-torn region around St-Marie-aux-Mines…
…under one condition…
They could not evangelize. They were muzzled from sharing their faith. The Swiss Anabaptists (from the Bern area), had had enough of deadly persecution and they agreed. They agreed to keep quiet and be hard workers.
In this town, there eventually came a split among the Anabaptists that had settled there. The followers of Jakob Ammann split with the the Swiss Brethren and became the Amish.
Rusty and Janet come from the heart of Amish country in the US where they are active in reconciliation ministry between the various Anabaptist streams (Amish, Mennonite, Brethren, etc.) and the Swiss Reformed church which had brutally persecuted them so long ago. Janet recently published a book entitled Unlocking our Inheritance – Spiritual Keys to Recovering the Treasures of Anabaptism. (Read about the reconciliation process and how to acquire the book at https://www.anabaptistreconciliation.org/).
Their declaration had been signed by Mennonites and Amish leaders from the Lancaster area and was a specific declaration of repentance for having accepted the agreement to stop evangelizing in order to avoid persecution and for the origins of the Amish split in the Anabaptist tradition.
This also was a powerful time of repentance and reconciliation between the Anabaptists represented by Janet and the Alsatians and even a Swiss lady from the Bern region.
The end of Wednesday was at the top of St-Marie pass were one re-enters Alsace from the interior of France. At this pass we found a military cemetery, a large “mile-marker” from the days when Alsace was German, and a large information board which mentioned many of the difficult parts of Alsace’s history tied to that very area…including issues of the Swedish in the 30 Years’ War. The Swedish family was leaving the next morning, and because we had had that time of reconciliation Wednesday morning, we could face that information about the Swedes in the 30 Years’ War Wednesday evening and know that it was dealt with and have a wonderful time of blessing and prophetic send-off for that family that became so precious to us in just 2 days!
This was truly a blessed week. Don’t get me wrong, it was physically hard at times (especially on a nearly 45-year-old body like mine!) and not always comfortable (weather, wet camping two days, etc.), but we were used by the Lord to redeem history. In all, it was rich beyond measure!!!