Dear Family and Friends,
Wow, summer is already over! Where did the time go? Yes, some vacationing was done, and we trust that you had some good times of relaxing too during these strange and uncertain times.
As probably for some of you, we lived out March through May in a “lock-down” mode as people 65 and older were asked to mostly stay at home. We are so thankful for our large garden and fields and forests just minutes away, which allowed us to be quite free in our movements. A young YWAM friend delivered our groceries each week. God bless you, Camille! In June, when restrictions gradually loosened we started seeing people face to face again instead of only on-line, and doing our own shopping. Getting used to wearing masks has not been easy, but is a small price to pay for better protecting the health of others and ourselves. This has been fairly well accepted by the Swiss population. We thank God that we have stayed healthy, though Linda’s energy level remains quite low and her mobility is a bit more limited than before her Parkinson’s downslide in March. But she is quite disciplined about her daily exercise and I am proud of her efforts! Tom is in a Parkinson’s caregivers’ support group, and we will probably join a Parkinson’s group for couples this fall. Daily times of Bible reading and prayer together keep us focused and hope-filled for the future.
Despite the disruptions of this spring we continued to “see things through” with our Alpha Course that we started with a few neighbors last November, and which finally finished at the end of July! We have never had one go for so long…so many postponed sessions. Two of the three people finished the Course, with one of them coming back closer to the Lord after years of much physical suffering and the doubt that often comes with it. We stay in touch with the neighbor who dropped out and our friendship continues with good times of sharing. Please pray as we hope to be able to launch another Alpha Course in our village, possibly in partnership with the Reformed church. The young pastor here was blessed in doing this last Course with us.
Tom has been involved in training two local churches to run the Alpha Course as well as times of teaching for them. Gatherings are permitted if distancing is maintained and masks worn when needed. It is a funny feeling though to teach people who are wearing masks as you cannot “read” their faces. But so long as their ears are not covered and their hearts are open… Tom has also helped with Alpha training sessions via video for local church members. May they continue to start new Courses and share the basics of the Christian faith with non-believers or non-churchgoers.
Another aspect of ministry that continues is regular one-on-one discipleship times with younger YWAM staff via video or “live”. (Hey, we need to say that at our age most all YWAM staff are “younger” than us!!) It is a joy to take time to reflect and pray with them about future goals, desires, character growth and facing many challenges (fund-raising, homesickness, dating, God’s call on their lives, etc.). Talk about reliving the past! We pray that our experience, and hopefully our wisdom, will make a difference in their lives. Helping the next generations move on in committed service to God is what it is all about!
Last week we attended three morning sessions at a weekend staff retreat with our YWAM Burtigny team. We were impressed with the clarity of the leadership as they laid out the vision of our Center: to be “a learning community which influences the spheres of society”, and doing that along with the Body of Christ. Our goals for training people to influence the world with Biblical values and truth through discipleship schools, outreaches and training seminars is challenging to say the least. Please do pray for the 5 students and 4 staff who are braving the Covid limitations as they start our Discipleship Training School (Geneva/Burtigny) on September 28. The theme is: “around the table”, with an emphasis on hospitality and meals. Tom looks forward to lead them on the spiritual history walking tour of Geneva on October 1st, which he recently did for the YWAM Lausanne base. He was trained personally by the designer of the tour, Dr. Tom Bloomer, Dean Emeritus of Academic Affairs of the University of the Nations. If you are interested in the topic and tour just Google: History, Tom Bloomer. That will take you to the seven 20-minute tours on line. Really worth it!
Some fall preaching/teaching times are already on the slate, with ongonig premarital and marital counseling sessions too. If you build strong marriages, then you build strong families. There will also be a Swiss-wide evangelism effort by the evangelical churches this October 11-17. May God open hearts and lead us to them! Translating meetings for staff and students is ongoing for Tom.
We close with a blessing, for which we are so thankful, the baptism of our friend Carlos the 27th of September! He and his wife did the Alpha Course with us 10 years ago. Sandrine gave her heart to the Lord, but he did not. It has been a real uphill struggle for him and for the family as he battled for years with drugs and more. He finally gave his life to Christ a few years back, but the struggles were tough to overcome. The time came for him to publicly say now that Christ is number one in his life. The photo below captures this joy, despite the 45 degree Fahrenheit temperature and 30 mile an hour winds!
God bless you all richly and much thanks for your love, care, support and prayers.
All our love,
Tom and Linda