“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8).
Our summer furlough has given us many opportunities to taste and see the goodness of our Lord. Whether it be through His protection and provisions by the love, grace, and generosity of so many believers, or through the encouragement we received from believers, we can only give thanks and praises to God, for He is good!
After a hectic departure from Paris in June, we enjoyed reconnecting with our brothers and sisters from our sending church and to spend a week in Rochelle, Illinois, before beginning the immense journey ahead of us. The following week, we picked up a missionary minivan in Missouri, which we rented for the summer. As I turned the ignition, I knew this was going to be an interesting summer… it read 389,697 miles!
Our journey took us then to Texas, where after going over an invisible speed bump, the AC, the ventilation, the power locks, and ceiling lamps stopped all at once. Though we brought the car to garage, no solution was found. This prompted us to purchase car fans to help with the Texan heat. After three weeks of blessed meetings there, we set course for New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and then back to Illinois.
Following our weekend in New Mexico, we drove through the majestic Rocky Mountains on our way to stay at a missionary house in Grand Junction. As we completed the mountainous part of our journey, I started to smell a strange odor coming from the van. Though I had been cautious to use lower gears, it appeared that the brakes had overheated as they started to block, making it difficult for the vehicle to move. While searching for a garage, we heard two loud noises that seemed to come from the front wheels, and then the van drove normally, but then it took it a longer time to stop when I would press the brake pedal. We finally found a garage, but it was closed since it was July 3. We asked around if there was another garage, but we were told this was the only one. After unsuccessfully trying to reach our insurance, I called the church in Grand Junction to let them know we wouldn’t make it and explained the situation. I started looking for a hotel, but this being a touristic town and a holiday, prices for a room began at $400. After praying to the Lord, we prepared ourselves to spend the night in the minivan 90 miles away from our destination.
Then the pastor from Grand Junction called back and told me that he would be coming to get us with the church van and that he had rented a trailer to hook up our minivan. The following morning, the pastor took a closer look at the brakes at the church’s garage and noticed that the brake pads were still in good shape and didn’t need to be replaced. We thank God for His servant who manifested so much grace to our family, going over and beyond to help us.
Two days later, we headed out to the Denver area for a Wednesday evening service and had no issues with the vehicle. That evening, we had the pleasant surprise to see our former BWM director and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Steadman. After presenting our ministry, we still had a three-hour drive to get to our hotel in Douglas, Wyoming. After a few miles, it began to rain, and since we had no AC nor working ventilation, the windshield fogged up. Though we wiped it as much as we could, and even used the car fans we had bought, it didn’t help that much. We, thus, were preparing to stop and spend the night in our van, asking God to help and protect us. After a few minutes, the ceiling lamps turned on, the dashboard lights started to flicker, as well as the headlights! This was a bit scary as there were several cars near us. After a few seconds, the flickering stopped, and everything was working as it should. The windshield cleared up and we were able to safely reach our destination, but as soon as I parked in the hotel parking lot, the previously mentioned problems came back. We were, however, thankful to God for His protection.
A couple of days later, after stopping for lunch, we had another issue. The engine would start but then die after a few seconds. After trying multiple times to no avail, I opened the hood to see if there was anything obvious that could explain the problem but didn’t find anything. A man then stopped and offered his help. After I explained to him all the issues we’ve had, he thought the fuses might be the culprit and offered to get a tester at home and to be back within 10 minutes. I accepted his offer as we didn’t have any other immediate solutions. As he left, I got behind the steering wheel and tried again to start the engine, but it would again instantly die. I prayed to God, telling Him that I didn’t understand the purpose of all this but asked Him to intervene. I then tried again, and the engine ran! As the man came back a few minutes later, he was surprised to see that the engine was running. I told him that I had just prayed God and that He answered. I expected him to look at me in a weird way, but then it was my turn to be surprised as he looked at me and said, “Well, I was praying for you and your family as well on the way home and back.” I guess we both needed to see the hand of our mighty God at work. We praise God for His grace to us. The rest of our journey towards Minnesota went smoothly.
While in Minnesota, after the Sunday evening service, we started talking about all these issues with a man from the church and found out he was a mechanic. He offered to look at our van while we had a fellowship dinner. He spent the entire time trying to find a solution. After the meal, he offered to take the van to his place where he had all the equipment to perform a deeper analysis. He brought us back the van in the morning and had managed to fix everything! GOD IS GOOD!
From June through the end of August, we travelled over 10,000 miles in the Southwest and in the Midwest. We were able to report to some of our supporting churches there but also to present our ministry to 11 new ones as additional support is needed. We praise God that two of them began supporting us during our furlough, while several others have increased their support towards our family, bringing us to 76% of our budget. We trust that God will soon provide the remainder and ask you to pray regarding that need.
We are thankful for God’s grace in providing a trumpet for our son Abel.
We rejoice for the musical talent God has given him and for Abel’s desire to honor Him.
Back to the field
Our return to France was almost as eventful as our trip to Chicago in June. Just a few days prior to our departure, we realized that the date we had chosen exceeded by 24 hours the allowed time of 90 days during which Damaris can stay in the United States without a visa. This would most likely cause problems for her to enter the United States for our next furlough. So, we immediately tried to change our plane tickets, but that would have cost us several thousands of dollars. We had to get Damaris an earlier flight for only $700 to travel alone on August 28, while the kids and I traveled back to France on the 29th. Needless to say, “travel agent” would not have been a good career choice for me! After all the commotion, we were happy to be reunited on the 30th and to be back home again. The boys had 5 days to recuperate before school started again. Adam is now in eleventh grade, Abel in the fifth, and Anthony in the first.
The work in Amiens
We thank God for the Abbetts, our faithful coworkers, who took good care of the ministry in Amiens while we were gone. During the summer, a family of four began attending our services. They are believers who left an evangelical church, which is being taken over by Charismatics. Please pray for M****l, N******e and their two boys. There’s a lot of sadness for them to overcome and wounds to heal. Pray for the Lord to pour His wisdom upon us, the Abbetts and us, to help this family. As the school year has begun, students have been coming back. On September 10, we rejoiced as we had an attendance of 26 people for the service. We were happy to see again G*****y, N***a, her daughter A**e, R****n, A****e and their boys, R*****a and E********a, but also to meet two new students from Haiti over the past two weeks.
News from camp
A**l had a great time at Camp Rainbow in August. We were happy to see him and M***e, his mother, come to church a few Sundays ago. Please continue to pray for her salvation. We’ve recently received news that the replacement of the windows at Camp Rainbow had begun for the lower and first levels of the building. We thank God for His provisions making this possible. We are convinced He will do the same for the remaining levels.
We thank you for your love, your kindness and your help manifested through your precious prayers and through your faithful financial support.
Jeremie, Damaris, Adam, Abel & Anthony