We know that God has a plan, and we know the ultimate goal of his plan. But we never know his ways!
A few years ago, we talked about hiring a couple to help us here in Lyon. It took us a while to really know what we wanted and to find the resources.
Last year, after praying and planning, we officially sent a definitive plan to the European Missions Society (EMS) and began to look for a couple. At one point a couple was suggested to us and at the same time they were asked about moving to Lyon. They immediately said no for various reasons, and we, in Lyon also said no for other reasons.
A year later, this last July, this very couple Joshua and Christelle Maxwell moved from Indianapolis to Lyon!
God has amazing plans which are not ours! We love them and they love Lyon!
It happens that Christelle is French. Her parents have been dear friends to us for more than 25 years as we were together members of the Paris church. Christelle's brother, Brennus is also part of the Lyon church and Joshua is learning French faster than I have seen any American brother learn it!
Although their focus is campus and teens, the Maxwells are leading the church along with a group composed of elders in training, the church teacher, and their wives.
God has done miraculous things since they arrived. Three teens and one student have been baptized in the last four months. Here are their stories:
Charles is 17, the third son of Gérald and Laurence Paquis - Gérald is one of the elders in training. Charles's older brother is a disciple in the Milan church and his older sister is a disciple in the Paris church. A lot of things happened in his young life. He had been hurt by life, circumstances, his own sins, as well by the sins of brothers and sisters. He had distanced himself from the church, spiritually and also physically going to live with his aunt very far from Lyon in a small village where he cultivated a rebellious spirit. But God was working in his life, and this summer, although he didn't really want to at first, he came to the teen camp in Switzerland, studied the Bible with Joshua and other brothers who had been faithful to him in friendship, and was baptized!
Anna is 14, the second child of Pierre-Louis and Marjolaine Suchel - Pierre-Louis is our teacher. Anna's brother is a disciple in the Lyon church. Anna is a sweet young teen who used to be quite shy, but with strong convictions and a heart for God. She is very talented and a very good violin player.
Adam is 14, the third child of Chris and Lesa Stringer - Chris is also an elder in training. Adam's two older sisters are disciples in the Lyon Church. Adam is tall (6.2 ft) and plays rugby - but more important, his heart for God is huge. Adam is a very kind, loving young man.
Both of them, after studying the Bible for more than a year, studied some more at our Fall retreat two weeks ago, and decided after the last study that they couldn't wait for the next day, so we went to the lake. Under the rain, with a temperature of 50°F outside and probably not more than 60 °F in the water, they were baptized as spiritual twins!
Julien is a university classmate of Bruno, one of our campus brothers. He was an atheist. He came to Bible talks, saw the love of the disciples, and was so touched he began to study the Bible. When he was ready to make a decision, he had an accident - a car hit him as he was riding his bike one evening. God protected him as he was slightly injured, but this made him think about the right choice he had to make. He decided he wanted to be baptized. It was fall break, and he had to talk to his girlfriend and his parents who lived two hours away from Lyon. He went and gave no news for 10 days, not answering any messages the disciples sent him. The brothers were, of course, worried. But as the Lord was in control.
He came back saying he had been reading his Bible more than ever, had broken up with his girlfriend who was sadly not interested, and had talked to his parents who didn't even want to come to his baptism. He was more convicted than ever and wanted to be baptized that very evening. We gathered in our apartment several hours later to witness the radical decision of this young man who turned 20 a few days after his baptism!
With a new couple placing membership recently, the church in Lyon is now bigger than it has ever been with 41 members, 11 of those are part of the campus and young professionals ministry, including the Maxwells. And we are expecting even greater things as new people are studying the Bible. Another young man, the cousin of one of our brothers, said this past week that he wanted to be baptized! Please keep Yann and his wife in your prayers.
We are very thankful for the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters in the US supporting the EMS, thankful to the EMS board for trusting us and loving us and being willing to help. God is blessing your faith, decision and sacrifice. Know that lives are being changed here in Lyon, France!