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A Full Week for the Members of Network 55+

Sixty-six members of Network 55+ gathered together from 18th to (US: through) 24th September at Benoîte-Vaux, 15 miles from Verdun. The topic chosen for the week was “Marked by liberating grace” based on Titus 2.11-14.

It was a very full week as regards:

♥rich teaching which spoke to people’s hearts;

♥fellowship among the brothers and sisters present. Some fifteen new “young pensioners” joined this year;

♥the challenge shared by missionaries and prayer for France, Népal, Niger and Chad;

♥ discovering the region of Verdun and its role in the First World War and the story of the French soldiers who fought there;

♥Anecdotes from the participants’ lives, plenty of laughs, good humour, indispensable ingredients for an enjoyable week;

♥Convivial moments of relaxation and getting to know one another.

“Nathalie and I were extremely encouraged by the genuine fellowship among the participants. Mutual sharing, helpful and practical, the messages and testimonies were incredibly profound. They opened our eyes on all the work and the various ministries involved in spreading the Gospel. That helped us realise that our Lord is not limited and that his grace is infinite.” Louis and Nathalie

This week will remain permanently engraved in our hearts on account of the rich messages, the transparency of sharing in small groups, the warm fellowship but also laughter and humour, not forgetting the variety of the afternoon activities and the edifying missionary evenings. Évelyne and Alain

A typical day’s schedule was:

♠Breakfast from 8 a.m.

♠9:30 a time of worship, prayer and discussion in small groups

♠12:15 Lunch

♠2:30 p.m. Trip to Verdun or elsewhere, walks, cycle rides, siesta, bowls, games, handicraft workshops

♠6:30 p.m. Dinner

♠8 p.m. Worship and information about the challenges of missionary work in Verdun, Lille, Lens, Metz, Nepal, Chad and Niger. The missionaries were present in person or by video link. The final evening was given over to testimonies from the week.

“We are especially grateful for this week and the many opportinities for fellowship it afforded. We took advatnage of them at meals, in the small groups and while outdoors walking or in games…. Right from the start we felt we could be authentically ourselves! From the teaching and the small groups we took away the concept of not restricting ouselves to people of the same age but taking our place in the local church with our gifts and abilities. What grace! What encouragement! Thank you, Lord Jesus”. Charles and Monique

To sum up, this was the first such get-together for my husband Dominique and myself. I was really excited by the possibility of meeting new people, hearing their life experiences, the messages through which the Lord wanted to speak to us, the needs, the challenges. I was satisfied beyond my expectations. The teaching especially prodded us to ask the right questions about our engagement with a lost world. Am I willing to be a  “Barnabas” who encourages my neighbour, my brothers and sisters in the faith, my family? What challenges is my local church facing? How can I take part and invest my life? How can I move the Lord’s work forward? How apply the theme of the week: “Marked by liberating grace” in my life and others’?

“My question when I enrolled in the week was: how can I serve God, how spread the Gospel in a natural way to those around me, now I am retired? Alain Stirnemann proved to be a great help by explaining how he worked in Metz. I became aware that with my card workshop I could reach people who would never come to church. Inviting people into our homes for an afternoon handicraft workshop could be a congenial way to get to know them and show them esteem through do-it-yourself, to listen to them and naturally to share our experience with God, relating simply how he intervenes in our lives…. I have been doing handicraft for many years, I have all the necessary material and could offer splendid workshops. I am willing to be mobile and go to people who would like to try handicraft. After this week I am burning with desire to continue serving the Lord with the gifts and the love Hs gives.Évelyne

Thanks to the organisers, to those who worked hard in the background, to the teachers, the missionaries, the participants. You are lovely people, dedicated to the Lord, often with difficult life situations, sometimes chaotic and marked by suffering. But you are examples of Christians holding fast to the rock who is Jesus Christ. Thanks! It was so good to be with you! Thank your for your smiles, your humour. Senior citizens are precious and good company, far from boring!

Thanks to the Lord for his support, his presence, his life in us. Yes, we work FOR him but we also work WITH him because we certainly “can do nothing without Him!” (John 15.5).

“We went back to our cottages, blessed by so much of the Lord’s grace. Teaching brim full of power and truth which challenged me. The life experiences of the one and the other, rich with gratitude, full of challenges, courage, humility, trials and hidden tears. Thanks to the Lord for servants filled with his presence. Trials, pain, daily sttruggles on all fronts… showed clearly how the Lord is at work through things he allows in our lives, so that we can spread this pleasing aroma of the fragrance of Christ which makes all the difference!” Brigitte

Note the date for 2024 at the same location with a big project for sharing the vision of Network 55+. Expect further details in the Spring of 2024

Magali B.

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