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Pierre and Martine Fleck retire after 45 years of ministry

After a life dedicated to the service of the Lord within FPC, the time has come for retirement. Martine and Pierre come back to the main stages of their journey and share with us the lessons learned.

What were the main stages of your journey?

Pierre : I was 18 years old when my family rejected me because of my faith. Nicolas and Edith Kessely welcomed me to the “Special Youth” mission[i]. I went with Jean-Jacques and Lydie Herrmann to the North for evangelization in a pioneer field. FPC was born in 1977 by opening the school of disciples in Pechelbronn which trained missionaries to reach France for Christ. I was happy to be a member of the first group. In 1980, I again joined Jean-Jacques and Lydie Hermann in Maubeuge to establish a church. With my wife Martine, we stayed there for seven years. We were mostly involved in youth work with Vilodec in Avesnois.

I was impressed by the welcome and hospitality of our elders. I have learned that practical service to others and helping and counseling relationships represent a large part of a missionary’s work. Jean-Jacques impressed me with his shepherd’s nature, working for the good of the flock.

In 1991, the Herrgotts, a retired pastoral couple who were bringing together a group of Christians in the Jura region, invited us to join them to continue the establishment of a church in Dole. We witnessed at markets and evangelization evenings in Dole and surroundings. God acted and the church started to take shape. In a team with different Pass[ii] participants, we prayed and worked for the strengthening of Christians. We have learned perseverance in the ministry of church-planting.

Thirteen years later, the bookstore L’Exèdre in Besançon, where we were customers for our stand in the markets, was in difficulty and was looking for a solution to keep the store. This bookshop is a hub for the churches of the region, helping them evangelize through Christian literature. I became involved as a manager, through FPC, introducing fair trade to encourage passers-by to enter the store. The work is diverse. We quickly played a relational role of listening and counseling. In our 18 years in this ministry, we have accompanied many young people in their internships.

What are the most important lessons you have learned?

Pierre : It’s not what I do that’s important to God. Rather it is that he can use me as a living stone in his building. Every step is a lesson from the Lord. And the most beautiful privilege is to serve the King of kings!

Martine : I chose to accompany my husband throughout the journey in a complementary way. For me, it was a real missionary call and my way of serving the Lord. In Maubeuge, I discovered the ministry. But it wasn’t the way I imagined it and it wasn’t always easy. I was rattled by the unexpected. But I was attracted to the model of hospitality. I was encouraged to have a ministry of hospitality and teaching children and women. In Dole, we always had interns living with us and the church was meeting in our home. I had to adapt. But we shared the vision as a family. It was instructive for our children who found role models. They are now getting involved themselves.

I have learned to overcome my fears to face many challenges with God. He showed me that “I can do all this through him who gives me strength[iii]”. At L’Exèdre, as I have always loved books, I took on the role of bookseller, to recommend good books according to our customers’ needs.

Many have been touched by the transparency of our married and family life. The ministry consists of relationships rather than business. And the Lord has acted, his Word has been spread. In Besançon, I taught the basics of faith to several young women. I don’t have space to mention everything God has done.

The Christian family is also a valuable support. With God, responsibilities are easier to bear, and challenges are not impossibilities. What a joy to draw from him to serve him! The joy that comes from the Lord allows me to persevere where God has placed me. God’s work is accomplished in weakness. “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory[iv]. “

What is the future of L’Exèdre?

First of all, thank you Lord! The store held on, even during Covid. Last January, we thought we would have to declare a cessation of activity. Shirlei, wife of Pastor Gilson from the Baptist Church of Besançon, has been volunteering at the store for a year. When she heard the store had to close, she couldn’t accept it: “We pray every day for the store.” A discussion has therefore begun between the current leaders of L’Exèdre and the Baptist Church. The General Assembly agreed to the continuation of this place of testimony, bookstore and fair trade.

Mission FPC

[i] “Spécial jeunes“ later became France Pour Christ.
[ii] https://www.missionfpc.fr/en/statut/pass-fpc-en/
[iii] Philippians 4.13.
[iv] Romans 11.36.

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