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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Place & New Friends

Martha and I love to see new places. One of the things we are doing on this sabbatical leave (in addition to reading and writing) is heading off to new places we have not seen before. This is particularly good for me since I am a person of routine and habit. I normally like things where they are and resist change. One could say that our return to the same village in France (behind the photo) is not really a "new" place for us at all. But we make an effort to drive each week to some place new.
I am also richly blessed with a circle of close, good and long-standing friends. I love getting together with those I know well and long. You are friends who know me and accept me and that makes for deep comfort and security. One of the blessings of being in a church for 7+ years is that we are getting to know each other deeply and well. And that is such a gift to genuine community.
But then along come new friend. Yesterday was such a situation for us. Our host friends (Yves & Marylene Pizant...left of picture) wanted to introduce us to close friends of theirs, Christine and Pierre LaCroix. Pierre has been both a pastor of the Eglise Libre Evangelique Church in Cannes, France and, simultaneously for the last 10 years President of the denomination in France. So Pierre knows Covenant leaders from Chicago and Free Church leaders in Minneapolis and around the world.
We went for a walk together in the hills above our little village yesterday and Pierre told me the story of his call. Serving Cannes is not that different from serving Santa Barbara: lovely climate, high real estate, pockets of high wealth and celebrity serving people with real and deep spiritual needs. Pierre, after serving Cannes for 10 years has accepted a call to serve the French church in Beirut, Lebanon!
That got my attention. To leave Cannes for Beirut must be an act of God. I needed to hear more. So we talked together through the afternoon and then through a long dinner into the late night.
I confess my suspicion when people ask me to consider supporting their mission trip during the winter to go to Hawaii or Cancun to to beach evangelism. Certainly there is mission to do everywhere. But why do people want to "trade up?"  Why do pastors often sense God's call from smaller churches to larger churches (maybe my own call from Minnesota to California :-)? But this young and successful pastor feels called to bring a message of gospel peace to an international city torn by years of violence and war, with no certain outcome for the future.
I needed to meet a bold new friend like this yesterday! What a gift!

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