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
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