July 1, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Sometimes it is good for you to get news “straight from the horse’s mouth”. So, I thought that you might like to read a portion of this personal note I received from “Sam”. I have his permission to share it with you. Sam made a public profession of faith and was baptized about 3 years ago. We became acquainted with Sam, who is a software engineer, through his sister who was a member of the church in Tournefeuille. He came to me asking me to have Bible studies in English. He had two goals: Improve his English and understand what God wants from us.
Each week for a year Sam would spend about 3 hours with me in Bible study. Since he was single, we invited him to come straight from work and have dinner with us. In addition to the Bible studies we also had great discussions each week while eating wonderful meals prepared by Judy. Sam always brought desserts from a French pastry shop. When we had been having Bible studies weekly for a year, the light went on, Sam trusted Christ and followed the Lord in baptism. We continued having Bible studies.
Over a year ago Sam took a job in Paris (8 hours by car north of us). He was able to find a church, but it takes an hour each way to get there from his house. We continue to have regular contact and when he is in the Toulouse area he comes to the Tournefeuille church. I will let you read a few words I received from him this past month.
Hi my dear brother John,
I never replied to your email about forgiveness, but I’ve read it with great attention, and today, I read it again.
Today, at work, I parked on a parking place reserved for another company in the same building. The neighbor wanted to make his point by parking right behind my car so I couldn’t leave. He left a note under his windshield so I can call him, which is what I did. He came with another coworker and they both criticized me for taking a parking place that wasn’t mine. I accepted my bad, said that I was sorry and that I won’t take his parking place anymore, and asked him to move his car so I can go back home.
He said: “No, I will work until 9 PM”. Somehow, he wanted to make me pay, he wanted me to feel miserable. I told him that he could left a note on my windshield, I would have stopped parking on his place, there’s no need to block me now the evening, but he didn’t want to listen anything, so I walked back home.
No need to say that this attitude made me very angry. I said to myself how stupid he was: I apologized, I said that I won’t do it anymore, what did he want more? I felt sometimes people really seek for destruction. If I just listened to my human feelings, I would seek for revenge, after he would revenge on me and going to work will become a hell for both of us…
I took some time to cool off tonight, and I read again your email about unconditional forgiveness, and it helped me 😊 I feel that I need to let it pass, forgive this man, though what he did was illegal. If I had to pick up my children at school for example, or something more urgent…
Otherwise, I don’t know if you remember, I have a friend Denis that has been condemned to 10 years in jail. I kept writing letters to him, trying to understand his state of mind, comfort him as much as I can and encourage him. He didn’t really believe in a God that would be worried about his existence, as to start with, he goes to jail for an attempted homicide while he was not in control of his body as he lost his mind because of a melancholic depression. He told me that when it happened, he was like a spectator of his own body… I suggested him to read the Bible with a book that you may know “Dig Deeper into the Gospels” which explains the Gospel of Mark, and he accepted it.
He wrote me a letter after that, that I share with you: … (I [John] did not include this interesting note as I had no permission from Denis to do so, but it was very encouraging.)
I feel very encouraged and I try to keep on corresponding with him and help him dig deeper into God’s Word. Thanks God, I got a very good teacher for myself 😋
I’ve been in Toulouse last weekend, I talked a little bit with Philip, got some news from you. It’s been a while I haven’t been at your church, and though I like it, I realized that it’s hard to develop some roots in God’s word just by going to the church on Sunday. I realized that what I liked the most with your church in Tournefeuille was the Bible study with you in fact. They were most of my spiritual bread, and I am really grateful for that. I think that the gospel of John, Acts or Romans, I naturally associate it with you, and there were great memories.
I keep Peggy, Judy and you in my prayers. I’m not very good for those kind of situations, and I don’t really know what to say. I love the three of you, that’s what I feel.
Getting apart is sad, but we all have this hope to see each other again in God’s presence and I’m looking forward to rejoicing all together.
So, this is just one of many examples of what you are participating in as disciples of Jesus are made in France. Just think of all these people you will meet in the presence of the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
John and Judy
John and Judy Hatcher
1901 Shepherd Dr.
Evansville, IN 47715
4, rue d’Aspin
31170 Tournefeuille, France