Bibles & Literature in French
PO Box 629
Wheaton, IL 60187
This morning when I arrived at the print shop I looked in the back seat of my car and noticed the New Testament I¹d put there to give away was gone. I looked all over the car¹s interior, but it was definitely gone. But on the floor of the passenger side back seat I found a retractable dog leash! It certainly wasn¹t mine! Then I saw that I must have left the passenger door unlocked, so someone had noticed the ³book² lying on the seat, took the N.T. and (maybe accidentally) left the dog leash on the floor, locking the door as he left.
Did they intend to leave the leash?? Or was it forgotten in the excitement of taking the book?? It got many good laughs at work this morning about the exchange made over a free New Testament. They thought maybe I should leave another one on the seat with the door unlocked and leave a note requesting a box of chocolates!! Only the Lord (and maybe the person who left the leash) really know the rest of the story...
-Submitted by Roger Saxe, missionary printer in France
God is the God of the Universe, and not just America describes my concluding sentiments at the end of worshipping and witnessing with my French speaking brother and sisters. Although we had an interpreter, there were some things that had no parallel in words. There is no word that will suffice hearing an elderly sister in Christ cry out in prayer to God in another language. It’s like hearing a baby cry, one does not always understand the exact sentiments of a baby when it cries, nevertheless that does not stop one from being moved with compassion to empathize with the child. So, although I could not understand the words of the elderly mother praying, I could not help but to empathize as her heart cried out to God. At that point, the language barrier did not matter, she was my sister in Christ and a microcosmic picture of the coming Kingdom of God. (When every nation, & every tongue shall confess that He is LORD!)
My lack of competency with the French language did not hinder my worshipping or witnessing experience. In fact the language barrier helped me exhibit true worship. I could not complain about a worship style. I could not question the lack of theological truths in various person’s prayers. My attention had to be solely on God. Consequently, I was in one of the most influential worship services of my life. Furthermore, as we past out invitations to the (Christian) Coffee Bar as part of our evangelistic effort, I knew one phrase; “Invitation Gratuit! Sil vous Plait.” “Free Invitation, if you please.” In most minds this is barely enough to be successful in evangelism. But, God was not calling me to be successful, he was calling me to be available.
Surprisingly, it WORKED! People came! How could God use my remedial communication to draw people to a Christian coffee shop where they could potentially hear the gospel? All I had to do is lift HIM up in my heart by being available, and he drew them. My lack of sufficiency did not impede God’s work. IT was then my eyes were open to the fact that God is the God of the universe, and missionary work to the French speaking world IS a must.
At the age of seven I was locked in the toilet of a restaurant during a trip abroad with my parents. My frantic attempts to push the door open were futile. In a country where I didn’t understand the language, my stress level was maxed out, and only after many failed attempts and countless tears did I finally discover the solution - the door opened by pulling, not by pushing. This unhappy, though inconsequential experience illustrates my attempts to force entrance into the Kingdom of God, only to discover that Jesus was voluntarily offering to enter my life.
10-12 years of age: A joyful thirst... Born into a typical, nominally Catholic French family, I felt there must be more to ‘religion’ than what I was experiencing. The natural beauty in the small Alpine town where I lived could not be an accidental creation. From my perspective, nature was a door through which I should be able to experience much more incredible, though yet invisible wonders. It couldn’t be that there was nothing behind that door.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” Romans 1:20 NIV
I longed to meet my powerful Creator. So at the time of my first communion (with the Catholic Church), I was motivated by a joyful thirst, a respect for Him who had created everything. Peter, the priest of the primary school, discovered my sensitivity and took me under his wing, while at the Catholic junior-high, Sister Marie-Gabrielle taught me catechism. I don’t remember the courses themselves, but she her relationship with God had a major impacted on me. Me, a Christian? My family tradition didn’t encourage my interest in religion. Even less in Protestantism, which seemed to me to be old, traditional and dusty.
16-18 years of age: An unsatisfied thirst... Adolescence distanced me from my natural wonder as a child, not permitting me to taste the promise of a marvelous kingdom I thought should be there ... somewhere. I tried to force God by pushing the door of his Kingdom, but not one religious or spiritual experience gave me access. Oriental philosophies and religions were popular and attracted me, and I tried to adapt for myself the religions I had heard of: Buddhism, Lamaism, a bit of Sufism, etc., but I only picked up a disagreeable, spiritual blur. In actuality, all I experienced was what is sometimes called the “conviction of sin.” I was convinced that I was incapable of opening the door to God myself... of meeting the Creator... of overcoming my imperfection.
“The wages of sin are death.” Romans 6:23a NIV
I met my just Judge. How could I find forgiveness? I abandoned myself to romanticism and melancholy. I had a passion for Chateaubriand (the first romantic French author) and had many experiences as a medium in practicing spiritism, but without real conviction. The more I dabbled in it, the more I felt my guilt before the ‘Father of the spirits’. It seemed that the only thing left for me to do was to die, since happiness was unattainable on earth. Then I attempted an experiment to plunge myself into a deep sleep for several days, believing this would keep me safely away from the “background noise” both in my head and in the world. Fortunately, through a dream, God kept me from the worst. I woke up convinced of this: there truly existed someone above and He would make Himself known to me. One day I would know the Truth. My pessimism departed and gave place to an optimism of waiting... of hope.
Me, a Christian? Religious hypocrisy disappointed me greatly. The behavior of certain believers disgusted me with their lack of holiness and obvious materialism. I hated the name of Jesus, and wanted to remain the master of my life.
19-20 years of age: The Source that quenches one’s thirst... At age 19 a painful event caused me to postpone my national military service and to go into exile at Marseille. Tormented by several nightmares each night, isolated in this big city, I surprised myself by praying like a member of the old Catholic religion. I decided then to meet with some Christian groups of various views. After several attempts, I came across (on the premises of an Evangelical Free Church), a group of Arabs, converted or interested in the Gospel of Christ. Yes, Christian Arabs! Despised by their families, threatened by their former Muslim comrades, they braved the risks of coming together each Thursday to share their faith in Jesus Christ. Ahmed sang his joy in knowing Jesus and I sang along, with Antoine (the group accompanist) explaining the Arabic words to me. Through these weekly discussions, God showed me the pieces of the puzzle. The child that was in me remembered my former quest and recognized in Christ the answer I had been longing for.
The Creator, whom I had met as my Judge, I now found was a father who loves me and wants to draw me to Himself. For this, I needed to repent of my former manner of living without Him. I regretted my ambitions of reaching Him by my own means, be they religious or pseudo-spiritual, and I now had to allow Him to enter and pull open the door of the Kingdom for me. The solution is Jesus Christ. What made sense to my questioning was His sacrifice on the cross. The answer to the contradictions of my soul and of life was His grace.
“Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
I met my Savior. I had mixed an assortment of personalized religions, but did not know God. The example and perseverance of these converted Arabs taught me that the important thing is not to know a religion, but to build a personal relationship with the Son of God, the only one who can bring me to the Father. With this realization, it was only natural to accept Jesus. Praying to invite Him into my life, I had the feeling of signing at the bottom of a contract that had been formulating in me for years, since my childhood - in fact from all eternity!
Me, a Christian? More than ever! I who had hated the name of Jesus and Christianity discovered a new life, entering into these well-known promises that I had always desperately awaited.
Ever since: A thirst joyfully satisfied... I had longed after my Holy God, and, thanks to Christ, He proved He was even more: a loving Father!
How could I ever consider turning back? If I keep the door open, my heart and spirit available to His presence, I am continually blessed - the first of which is knowing Him. I have found rest, no longer needing to exhaust myself with seeking my own supreme good. This knowledge is confirmed each day, if I open my eyes to it.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains is me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 5:15)
Ahmed was recalled to his home in Algeria, and we haven’t heard anything from him. The wife of another Arab brother, after threatening to divorce him, is allowing herself to be drawn slowly to Christ. For me, the struggle continues. There are highs and lows, but the lows are due only to my own unfaithfulness, my doubts, and my laziness. Jesus, the Son of God, remains the Rock of my Life.
“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)
This promise is for me, and for all of you who are declared righteous because you believe in Jesus. He has promised it in His Word, and 15 years of experience have never proved it wrong to Frederic Mondin.
Me, a Christian? Glory to God alone!
(Translated from French)