2006 Prayer Updates
Dear Friends,Christmas 2005

Often men ask Paul, ‘What is your vision for France and the French?’  The longing of Paul’s heart has always been to help French Christians build community with each other and learn to reach out to their neighbors (in the true biblical sense of the word).  But how do we help build community in a country which prides itself on individuality, a country whose government provides for so many needs that God isn’t considered, and a country where criticism and cynicism are the norm, even in the church? We say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, and be the Head of our home, our work, our recreation, our lives.  Give us Your ideas.  You are Emmanuel, God with us.’

God is with us when we talk across the fence to our neighbors.  He is with Paul as he spends hours with men who are struggling in their faith, some of whom have made poor decisions with devastating effects on their families.  He is here when I bow to pray with the three women who are my weekly prayer partners.  He is with Andrew and Christopher at school and at our home when teenagers from their school or the youth group come over to skateboard, play ping-pong, baseball, basketball, watch a DVD and eat, oh, yes eat!  He is with us as we whisper prayers in the night for our kids or as we challenge the young people we’re discipling to move forward for Christ.

He is here when the neighborhood Bible study meets and several get up the courage to share concerns from their hearts: a desire to overcome addiction to cigarettes, a fear that a teen child is getting into internet pornography, the overwhelming feelings of loss and grief from a woman whose husband has left her, the impatience of another whose husband seems so close and yet so far from true faith. 

He is here when we open our doors and let people in.  It seems so simple, and yet, sometimes I feel that my heart is already so full of love and caring for so many that I am just not sure how anyone else can fit.  But God has made our hearts to stretch and expand and grow.  This is a season for welcoming people into our lives and investing in theirs.  Will you please pray that we will be able to take each of these relationships to a new level and that truly we, the Musser family, will ‘always be ready to give an account for the hope that is in us, with gentleness and reverence.’ (I Peter 3:15)

This fall, Florent held a series of 'discovery studies' for four men whose wives are believers and come to our neighborhood Bible study.  All of these men have attended different activities over the past year at the church, some regularly.  This study proved an excellent time of honest questioning and gave the men an opportunity to express their frustrations and doubts about Christianity.  Please pray that these men will be open to the Holy Spirit's conviction in their lives.

We rejoice in the impact the ‘Word of Life’ camp this summer had on many of our youth.  Thank you SOOO much for praying for them.  They shared song and testimony in a special service in September and we are encouraged by the momentum that has continued.  Also, a teacher and a class of Jr. High girls from the school in Ohio which sent the summer team to Lyon in June expressed a desire to partner with the Jr. High girls in this church.  They’ve already sent us care packages and prayer requests and challenged us to memorize I Peter with them.  (They said we can do it in French!)  It’s so exciting to see this partnership forming as a result of the way the Lord touched lives this summer.  Please pray that this will be a wonderful, encouraging experience on both sides of the ocean.

Paul came back to the States from November 3-18 through funds which International Teams made available to help us develop a broader support base.  Due to the continued weak dollar, increased support given to our mission’s general fund and a higher cost of living in Lyon, we are seeing a need (for only the second time in 18 years) to raise more financial support (and of course, we always welcome more prayer support!)  We are extremely grateful for the Lord's provision in so many different ways throughout the years.  The royalties from my books have also been an important part of keeping us afloat in the past two years.  Please contact us if you want more information about our needs or if you have any questions and pray for those with whom Paul shared, that some would be interested in being involved in our ministry.

Our church is entering a season in which we hope and plan to see significant changes made on our property.  At the moment we are discussing with architects and studying building codes to see what is possible.  Paul is heading up the small committee which has been charged with this task, and he would appreciate your prayers for clear direction, for a good understanding of where our needs intersect with our possibilities, and for unity among the team asked to work on the project.

As they did last year, the youth group is spending the night at our house on December 17th and once again we’ll be handing out plates of homemade cookies and Gospel tracts to neighbors and shop owners in this community.  We had such great responses last year, both from the givers of the plates (the youth, who of course helped in the baking) and the receivers.  May our light continue to shine in this area of Lyon!

On January 10, I’ve been ask to present a seminar on writing for the Women’s Professional Networking Group—an association in Lyon that I attend made up of women from many different nationalities.  Thanks for your prayers.  I will be sharing the techniques of writing and a little of my journey as a writer.

As those who receive our email updates know, our former teammates and dear friends, Howard and Trudy Owens, along with their children Will, Mary Elise and Charlotte, were living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck.  They evacuated to Jackson, Mississippi, and have been living there with Trudy’s parents ever since.  In October they returned to New Orleans to recuperate their few belongings that had not been destroyed by the hurricane and its after effect.  As you can imagine, this has been an extremely trying time for the Owens family.  Please pray with them as they are literally without a home.  Howard just completed his PhD and is searching for a teaching position at a seminary.  Pray for the kids as they continue to adjust to their new school in Jackson and as Will finishes applications for college.
This fall, I read the book Money, Possessions and Eternity by Randy Alcorn.  I think it should be required reading for all American Christians as it challenges us in our materialistic outlook and what the Bible truly says about money and possessions.  Though the book was definitely convicting, I found it also thrilling to consider in a deeper way exactly what the Lord promises those of us who store up our ‘treasures in heaven.’  I think it especially touched my heart because we are involved in a ministry that often does not bear lots of bright and shiny physical results.  Yet we know that the Lord sees our heart and our service.  And He sees yours.  I got excited thinking about how so many of you have been storing up such beautiful treasure for so many years as you have prayed for and given to our ministry in countless ways.  The Lord sees and knows and rewards.  It is coming!  As Randy Alcorn points out, the Bible teaches that ‘you can’t take it with you but you can send it on ahead!’ 

May His grace and peace abound for each one of you in the midst of this time of celebration of our Savior’s birth.  Have a blessed Christmas!

With much love and grateful hearts,

Elizabeth, Paul, Andrew and Christopher

Finances: International Teams . 411 West River Road .Elgin, IL  60123-1570
Correspondance : Musser . 898 Quai Pierre Dupont, 69270 Rochetaillée-sur-Saône, France
Email: paul.musser@iteams.org or egmusser@compuserve.com
Website: www.elizabethmusser.com

Dear Friends,Spring, 2006

At 8:45 one night recently a bomb went off in the subway station nearest the boys’ school, shortly followed by another explosive device on a tram line.  Within minutes, a third explosion erupted in one of Lyon’s main city squares, the Place des Terreaux.  As news trickled out about what was happening, we learned that nearly 1600 people were involved in the rescue efforts, and the estimates hit 200 injured and 40 deaths.

Such was the scene of simulated terrorists’ attacks on our city.  We learned that this is the very first time such an enactment has taken place on French soil.  If what I described sounds vaguely familiar, it should.  It closely resembles what really happened last summer in London, and the French authorities – no stranger to terrorist attacks, either – wanted to play out the scenario and test how well the emergency services could react.  They say it’ll take months to really comb through all that did or should have happened, and evaluate how to improve response time and effectiveness.

The world is a different place than when many of us grew up.  Our responses and reactions to what goes on around us need to evolve with the times, and our continued challenge is understanding how the church can reach out to people during these times.  The salvation message has not changed – hope and assurance is offered to each one who will choose to place his trust in Christ.  But the empty cathedrals in France witness to the fact that many seek their hope elsewhere.

We are praying about how a new church in this area can reach out to people who don’t know the Lord.  So we continue to study the current needs and questions of this society and culture, and how we can apply the Gospel to them.  Thanks for joining us in prayer that God would allow us to be men and women of firm convictions but also students of the culture that we live in.

The evangelical churches of Lyon and the surrounding area are focusing on evangelism this spring.  The series of events will be kicked off in late March by a satellite transmission from a leading German evangelist, and will conclude with this same speaker coming to Lyon for the Pentecost weekend, early June, for some outdoor tent meetings.  In between time there are all sorts of concerts and conferences and choirs (and various other creative ways of sharing the Good News) that will proclaim the Gospel message. 

Our church is performing an Easter musical during the first two weekends of April in different locations.  We will perform twice in our church on April 8, and hope to attract some of our immediate neighbors and friends from that area of the city.  On April 1 (no fooling!) we’ll perform the musical in a village right down the street from us.  We’re excited about inviting acquaintances from the north side of the city (such as the ones we distributed cookie plates to this Christmas) who might not go into Lyon all that often.  Given that this is where our future church will prayerfully be planted, we are thankful for this artistic outreach opportunity.

Andrew, Elizabeth and I will be singing in the choir on those occasions, and our home Bible study group is getting involved in offering drinks and snacks.  Thanks for joining us in prayer, that those people God is already preparing will accept our invitation and come listen to the best news they will have ever heard!  And that many will respond as they come to grips with Jesus’ sacrifice and love.

Thanks for continued prayer as to how we should be investing ourselves in the local church as opposed to the future church.  We need to be balanced in our approach and we pray God will raise up the goal of 60-80 people who will feel led to join the new outreach effort.  It is a scary step for many French people, whose culture teaches them not to take risks, but rather to rely on secure givens instead of reaching out for adventure.  But would you not agree that the Christian life – as God plans it – should be an adventure?  I believe once we get comfortable enough to relax, we let our guard down and begin treading water.  I don’t see how that is all that honoring to the Lord.  So as we step out toward new adventures with the Lord, thanks for joining us through your support and prayers.  We know that if God isn’t the builder, then our efforts aren’t worth much.

We are stream lining our email providers and access, so let me ask you to take a moment and correct our addresses in your computers and address books.  By the end of March we will no longer be with AOL or Wanadoo or Compuserve.  Even if you receive a note from us with a different address, the best ones to use in contacting us are through our mission:

paul.musser@iteams.organd elizabeth.musser@iteams.org
At the same time, in order to limit our postage fees, we intend to begin sending our newsletters to as many of you as possible via email.  For those of you who truly prefer receiving a snail mail letter or have no email access, we will continue as we have always done, and nothing will change for you.  But if an email version would suffice for you, would you please take three minutes right now and send me (Paul) an email?  That assures us both that we will have your current email address as well as your confirmation that you are willing to receive the letter in that fashion.  Thank you for your willingness to flex with us.

Elizabeth will be in Atlanta for 10 days at the end of April, speaking to several groups on writing.  Also, her parents, Barbara and Jere Goldsmith, are hosting an open house party on Saturday April 22 (5-9 pm) at their house for any of you who might be interested in seeing Elizabeth. Please check Elizabeth’s websites for details of all her speaking engagements.  www.elizabethmusser.com  She certainly appreciates your prayers as she prepares for these opportunities.

Lastly, as many of you know, Andrew has now been accepted at Covenant College on Lookout Mountain, GA.  We are thrilled with his choice of this Christian liberal arts college and feel it is a great ‘next step’ for Andrew.  The school is only an hour and a half from Elizabeth’s family and an added bonus is that the Owens family will be living right down the mountain from Andrew!  This past January, Howard accepted a position as professor at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga.  The Lord is full of such wonderful and unexpected surprises!  Please pray for us as we are soak up our last days in France with Andrew and for him as he prepares for and takes the difficult French Baccalaureate in May and June. 

We thank you for your investment in our lives, through your giving and your prayers and your encouragement.  We continue to trust the Lord to provide for all our needs, in His grace.

With much love,

Paul, Elizabeth, Andrew and Christopher

PS from Elizabeth—Please be sure you’ve noted our correct snail mail address in your address books (see bottom of this letter).  We received lots of Christmas cards at our old Lyon address.  Thankfully, the Varak family kindly sent them over to us.

And PLEASE PRAY for the Easter presentation April 1, 2, 8 and 9.  We already see lots of spiritual warfare going on and we NEED your prayers!  Pray for Andrew and Christopher as they invite friends from school.

Paul and Andrew are both involved in the worship team at church and enjoy practicing at home

Finances: International Teams . 411 West River Road .Elgin, IL  60123-1570
Correspondance : Musser . 898 Quai Pierre Dupont, 69270 Rochetaillée-sur-Saône, France
Email: paul.musser@iteams.org or elizabeth.musser@iteams.org
Website: www.elizabethmusser.com
Dear friends,Summer 2006

Many of you spent time praying about our Easter play, and we want to thank you for your investment in the Kingdom through your intercession.  The five presentations went well—over 700 people, many non-churched, attended, and it was wonderful to see the discussions that followed each time.  We offered a small snack just outside the hall, and many people stayed to interact with the actors and choir members.  We were thrilled that over 30 of the boys’ and our friends came to the different presentations.  Many seeds were planted, for the Gospel was presented VERY clearly through the play.  The harvest is up to the Lord, as we continue to pray for these dear people.

I recently attended an International Teams leadership conference.  Team leaders from around the world were invited to join in, and it afforded a blessed time together.  We heard many stories of what is happening in all kinds of countries and situations – many testimonies to God’s grace and faithfulness.  I realized our Mission is fast becoming a truly “international” group, and that perhaps this year the conference hosted more people who speak English as a second (or 3rd or 4th!) language than those who are native English speakers!  It was an exciting time, and we truly give thanks to the Lord for what He is doing as people hear the truth and put their trust in Christ.
Next fall our church wants to concentrate more on training and discipleship.  I think it is a natural chain of events, and we’re planning the next steps before the summer break hits.  Please pray with us for discernment, for understanding of what people
need in order to grow.  Pray that we avoid the temptation of telling everyone they need to grow the same ways – if God has indeed created and gifted us differently, why should we come to believe that one program is better than all the others and best suited for everyone? 

Some of you will be watching the World Cup soccer games this summer.  This tournament is held every four years, and takes place in a different country each time.  Germany is this year’s host.  Most of you know how much I enjoy playing the game, but also watching.  I’ve begun visiting a friend on “game nights” this spring to watch together and often the evening ends up with an extended discussion on some aspect of faith.  Recently his wife was baptized, (he is not a believer) and we spent some time talking about what that means, and about his support for her decisions.  Just last week he told Elizabeth that I’m welcome to come over during the World Cup as often as I’d like.  When she thanked him, he confided that the games were really just a pretext to get together – the discussions are the fun part!  We are in contact with various neighbors and friends from our town – pray that we’ll use the time wisely.

We have talked of our involvement in the Jr and Sr high youth groups at church.  Just recently, in fact, we hosted the Jr. High kids for an overnight get together complete with craft activities, sports and Bible study, followed by splitting the group for discussions.  We continue to look to the Lord for direction in how to best challenge and prepare these kids for the future.  I recently saw a statistic that 85% of people who make at least an initial decision for the Lord do so before they are 15.  Pretty interesting!  And it reminds us that any investment we can make in the lives of these young people is worth it.  We still need to recruit leaders for both groups for next fall.  Pray the Lord will send workers who have a true heart to see these young people make a decision for the Lord and then desire to grow in Him!

We’ll be doing some traveling this summer in the southeast, as we are in the US for a couple of months.  We’ll get to visit a few places we’ve never seen before, and are excited to have this opportunity to travel with Andrew before he begins his college career at Covenant College, in north Georgia.  It isn’t easy to think about life over here with him living 5000 miles away!  But I know many of you have been down that road before us, and we’ll survive.  He is unsure of what he’ll be studying, but right now is neck deep in reviewing for his finals.  You may have heard that the French high school BAC covers all of high school – it is a series of comprehensive exams over the course of the next couple of weeks.  We certainly appreciate prayers for all of us, and especially for Andrew, in this time of transition.  We’re thankful that he will be attending a week-long reentry seminar for ‘third culture kids’ in Buffalo, NY, (July 22-28) specifically geared at helping college bound missionary kids get acclimated to America.

Christopher has been able to attend several baseball events this spring, and enjoys the challenge of helping some of the younger players on his team learn the basics.  Several of his school friends have come to different events in the life of the church, and we’re excited that one classmate and his parents have been attending church services regularly!  Lots of neat discussions and sharing times together, and we pray the Lord will honor their desire to learn more about the Bible and its significance.

Elizabeth has been offered a contract for a new book, and she needs to finish the manuscript late this fall.  She has quite a ways to go on it, and furlough has never provided a real conducive time for her to hide away in a quiet place and write.  She is happy to be working again with a deadline, but needs to make the most of the coming weeks.  She will be staying in the States for an extra month after Andrew starts college to make sure he is doing okay.

Church obligations and caring for the family keep her busy, and she enjoys her prayer group, as well as investing in the lives of junior high and high school girls.  Her plate stays pretty full.
This year our church has put a heavy accent on evangelism, on reaching out to people in all kinds of ways and we’ve seen the fruit of these efforts.  Last month ten people were baptized in our church!  How thrilling to hear their testimonies of Jesus’ saving power and the changes He has made in their lives!
To celebrate Andrew’s 18th birthday in early June, Elizabeth organized a surprise party in which 18 of his church and school buddies came to our house for a spend-the-night get together.  They had a great time playing sports, working puzzles, playing ping pong and just hanging out together. 

The weekend gave us a new appreciation of the expression of “being eaten out of house and home?!!?”  We are thankful for the friends our boys have made here in Lyon, and even though that means the goodbyes will be hard to walk through, that is a sweet suffering to have to endure.

Thanks again for your prayers for us, for the boys, and for our church.  We continue to realize the need to rely on God’s grace and provision at all times.  Thanks for the precious role so many of you play in our ministry.

Grace and blessings to each of you,

Paul and family