• August 2018 Summer in France Cher fidèles amis,
  •  August 2018 Summer in France

    Cher fidèles amis,

    August 2018

    After a ten-week trip to France, we are back in the USA and ready to give you a report on all the amazing things that God has done. To Him be all the glory!

    We arrived in France just a few days before the handbell choir from Beth Eden Baptist Church in Denver arrived. While they were still traveling, we went down to a busy area near the Saint Denis Basilica. We learned that Saint Denis is where many immigrants to France settle. The people in the town and in the church are as diverse as anywhere we’ve ever visited. Africa, India, Asia, and the Islands are all represented, not to mention the many European nations. Bethany played her dulcimer while the rest of our family and a few others passed out invitations to hear the bell choir perform at the church. Stephanie met a doctor named Guy from Algeria. She was able to communicate with him a little bit and invited him to the concert. He then proceeded to speak with the pastor of the church, Albert Xandry, as well as one of the men of the congregation. Not only did he come to the concert, but he has been attending the church faithfully since then!

    Following the weekend of music and wonderful church services in Saint Denis, we toured Paris with missionary Kristi Colas as our guide. She did a great job of showing us the famous sites, as well as teaching us a good bit of Protestant history. It was a special blessing from the Lord to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triumph, and the cathedral of Notre Dame as a family. After the busy day, we enjoyed French crepes for dinner!

    It wasn’t all fun and games, though. Our primary purpose in taking this trip was to help Tim and Ruth Bixby and their church plant in Sarcelles. We originally thought that we would be helping them renovate a newly leased building into their sanctuary and classrooms. We knew there was a possibility that we would not gain the necessary permits from the government due to a fire in the building. And, unfortunately, we did not. However, as with every place we go, there were plenty of projects to keep us busy!

    Mike began at the mother church in Saint Denis. They were experiencing some significant flooding at the entry to their property every time it rained. Mike worked on their drainage system and suggested building a deck to keep the people out of the mud as they entered the building. He worked four weeks to finish that project, and the result is one of great beauty, as well as function. While he worked on that, our children pulled weeds and put down paver stones in the back of the church to make a nice little patio. Katelyn also pressure washed the roof of the building. Additionally, Mike repaired a leak in the roof and finished some tile work in three bathrooms.

    About half way through our time in France, Sarah and Mike visited North Africa. They were in three different cities and several rural areas, where they learned much about the history, language, and culture of the region. Sarah is considering further work there in the future.

    While they were gone, Stephanie and the children tried to keep busy. They completed the painting at the Saint Denis church, trimmed the hedges and painted the Bixby’s garage, and took several day trips. They visited Chateau d’Ecouen, the Museum of the Armistice, Royaumont Abbey, and Sacre Couer (The Church of the Sacred Heart) in Paris.

    Just after Mike and Sarah’s return, the Sarcelle church held a one-day Bible club in a local park. We went to the area on Friday and passed out invitations. Then we returned Saturday to host the children for games, crafts, snacks, and, of course, a Bible story and songs. The turn out was good, and we pray for eternal fruit to come out of it.

    Mike continued his work for the missionaries. He put in a tile backsplash at Kristi’s apartment, and he repaired some stucco on a garden wall at the Bixby’s. He, along with the children’s help, also built a nice deck off the back of the Bixby’s house. They do a lot of entertaining, and the church even meets at their home occasionally, so this will be a real asset to their ministry.

    In between the work and sightseeing days were special church services. We enjoyed meeting each Sunday and Tuesday evening with the two churches. There is something so unique and beautiful about these churches, full of diversity, yet unified around Christ. Hearing God’s Word preached and His praises sung in a foreign language is uplifting in a way that is difficult to describe. Mike preached a few different times, and we all ministered in music, but the real gift was from the precious believers in France to us. Their genuine warmth and friendship is a treasure that we will always cherish.

    Yes, our time in France was special. Yet we are reminded that wherever we go, the needs are great. Cultures may be diverse; languages may be different. Buildings and streets may take different forms. But the Gospel is the same. Our God is One. We are so thankful to Him for allowing us the opportunity to see ministry on different fields, to make new friends with our brothers and sisters serving Him in other places, to experience first hand the sacrifices made by our missionaries around the world, and to have one last trip together as a family. We made some precious memories, but even more importantly, we pray that God was glorified, His gospel was spread, and His servants were encouraged. Thank you for your part in helping us go. We appreciate your prayers and giving more than we can say.

    In Christ,

    Mike and Stephanie Smith

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