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"Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ." (Colossians 1:28)

Bixby News

Video update

7 December 2016 | by Bixby

Below is a homemade video Ruth recently made in response to a request by a ladies missionary group. We hope it will give you a better glimpse into our lives and remind you to pray for us.

 

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Group Bible Studies

30 November 2016 | by Bixby

I recently finished another series of evangelistic Bible studies in the home of one of our church families (whose apartment overlooks the Seine river). One of the unsaved participants wrote us later to say thank you “for the time you take to share you faith and particularly for the study last night. I was very touched, but didn’t have the words to express what I felt….” Another wrote to say, “I felt to what point it was in your heart that we could all meet each other in the kingdom of God after our life. That touched me very much. I pray often that my heart would open to God… Something is opening in me, like as if I could receive with all my being the Word….” Please pray for these five unconverted people who have become our friends, and whom we greatly desire to see come to Christ.

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In addition, we have recently begun a new believers’ Bible study in the home of our coworker Kristi Colas. This series of lessons, titled “Fundamental Truths”, seeks to give young believers a firm Biblical foundation in some of the most basic Biblical doctrines of our Christian faith. The course topics include lessons on the Bible itself, as well as how to read and study it, the different persons of the Godhead, what is salvation, the battle with the flesh, the church and its ordinances, and prayer.  I am co-teaching this seven-unit study with fellow elders Michael Cole and Albert Xandry.

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Fall “Discovery Meetings” in new location

24 November 2016 | by Bixby

We have held our last two “Discovery Meetings” in a new location: the unused restaurant of a local hotel in the neighboring town of Garges-lès-Gonesse. By way of reminder, these Discovery Meetings are special evangelistic services held on Sunday afternoon. Over the course of the last year and a half, we have held more than 10 of these services, printing and distributing more than 1,000 invitations each time in an effort to introduce our new church to those who live in our target area. Each service has included two congregational songs, a personal testimony of salvation, a special presentation for the children, and an evangelistic sermon on a specific theme. The theme for October’s Discovery Meeting was “Has the Bible been falsified?” and in November we considered the theme: “What is a saint?”

Between our last two meetings, God has brought at least nine unsaved visitors. We are very grateful to God for His working. Please pray that God will save these individuals.

Pratap: A Hindu university student and acquaintance of a church member whose only knowledge of the Bible was a painting of Jesus that his mother has in addition to many other idols. When I asked him if he knew what grace was, he confessed total ignorance.

Mervi: From a Muslim background, this eastern-European neighbor of our coworker Kristi has been growing in her interest of Christ.

Eric: A Catholic who has recently restarted attending Mass. He has come to a number of evangelistic Bible studies that I have done in one of our church member’s homes. Very open and kind, but still blind to his need for the all-sufficient High Priest.

Marielle: A close friend of some church members, she has attended many of our special functions. She remains open, but is very taken with mysticism and, while visibly moved by some of the things she has learned through various Bible studies, she has yet to understand and claim the Gospel message for herself.

Dahlia and Anita: two neighbor ladies, both from Catholic backgrounds, who came together in response to invitations they received in their mailboxes. They are very interested in pursuing further contact and shared that they had many questions to ask.

Marine: a young, non-religious, French lady who came by a personal invitation. She was shocked to see that we had a religious service in a restaurant, and even more when someone after the service began speaking to her about her soul! She had a lot of questions for her friend after they left the meeting.

Please pray that God would draw these individuals and others to Christ!

Below are some pictures.

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Multi-Church Retreat

23 November 2016 | by Bixby

The four Baptist churches in the Bordeaux region share an annual retreat during the All Saints’ holiday weekend. I, Tim, attended those retreats as a teenager, and we participated in several as a family while living in the region. This year I was invited back to be the speaker. The theme was “Faith in anxiety” (“La Grâce dans l’angoisse”) from the book of Habakkuk. It was a pleasure to reunite with many of the friends we have there. Another delight was getting to spend time with my parents.

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October: School vacation and family visit!

19 November 2016 | by Bixby

Visit with Sis

Our last catchup post overviewed our kids’ re-entry into school after summer vacation. Fast-forward six weeks later to October 19, and it was already time for their first two-week break! The activities for this school vacation had been put on the calendar months before, however, when Ruth’s little sister and her husband bought their tickets to come over and visit us for the first time since our move to France in 2009. Jim & Rachel small spent eight full and exciting days with us. We wanted to give them the truly French experience, and we managed to pack in a lot! Boat ride on the Seine, day trip to a medieval city, Versailles, the Louvre, Europe’s horse capital Chantilly (Rachel’s personal favorite since she has many years of experience in the trade). But more than all the fun touring and showing them some of our favorite things about France, we really just enjoyed the family time. We joke that we helped Jim & Rachel set their wedding date, as they had had to move it up to accommodate our move to Europe back in 2009,  but we really have not been able to spend much time with them since then, so it was nice just to be together and to give them an up-close and personal view of our life here.

September: Back to School

19 November 2016 | by Bixby

Once again, we are overdue in posting some news here, so it’s time to play catchup …

La Rentrée des classes

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Every one of our children faced a new educational setting this year, and while it took us a little time to get into the routine, all four have done well, the school year is in full swing!

Micaiah is 13 and in 8th grade (more precisely, 4ème). After two years of home schooling, he has re-integrated into a more formal school setting, attending a nearby private school which has a good, scholastic reputation and where the bar has been set high. As one would expect, it has been an adjustment for him, but overall we have been pleasantly surprised by how smooth the transition has been.

Eleven-year-old Miriam is in 6th grade, and she is the only child registered in the Bixby home school this year. She is a natural student, and studies quite well independently quite often. Nevertheless, as one of our primarily goals with home schooling is to have more concentrated time with our children, we her parents are grateful for the privilege to involve ourselves in her studies, and enjoy the ongoing challenge of keeping ourselves up on our grammar and mathematical toes as well. We will be meeting with the regional education inspector in a few weeks, and would appreciate your prayers for that.

Both Micaiah and Miriam are continuing in a pretty rigorous music conservatory program, which quickly fills up the extra-curricular calendar.

Zacharie is 6 years old (almost 7!) and in 2nd grade (CE1). He has transitioned nicely into the village elementary school, and I (Ruth) have been able to glad for opportunities to visit his school as a helper regularly (assisting in special musical projects). Zacharie has just started piano lessons this year as well.

At 4 years old, Gabriel began attending school for the first time this year. While that fact seems strange to our French friends and neighbors who are accustomed to a system which encourages putting children in the school system by the age of 3 (at the latest!), Gabriel, too, has fallen into his new routine quite well. It was hard for him at first to get used to having to leave home every single day, but he has adjusted well. I am looking forward to visiting his class next week in order to teach provide some English help and give a little lesson on the American Thanksgiving holiday.

Our two younger boys come home every day for lunch, and Micaiah comes home for lunch on three of the five days of a normal school week. While sometimes the extra runs in the middle of the day make us feel a little like the proverbial chicken with his head cut off, we are nevertheless grateful for every opportunity to be together as a family, and we are convinced that this is one small way to contribute to our goal of keeping a Christian home at the center of our children’s lives and their primary source of influence.

Church Plant Fellowship Meal

1 October 2016 | by Bixby

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On Sunday, September 11, 2016, we held a special fellowship dinner at our home following our morning worship service at the restaurant in Sarcelles. We were joined by the elders and their wives from our mother church in Saint-Denis.

It was a blessing to spend an afternoon together in fellowship. We had an afternoon service in our living room where we discussed the future steps we are planning for the church plant. Albert, the lead elder at Saint-Denis, then brought a challenge to the whole group.

The picture is of the group who gathered. Please pray that God will provide a place for us to meet regularly.

Swiss team: August 4-6

29 September 2016 | by Bixby

Since moving into our home on May 17 of this year, we have marveled time and again at how God’s provision has been just the right fit for our family and ministry needs. Having told the Lord that our home belongs first and foremost to him and that we wanted it to be used for Him, we could hardly believe it when so rapidly he gave us so many different ways to do just that.

Years ago, through our summers traveling with the Musical Mission Team, we got to know a Christian organization  and retreat center in Switzerland called the Guëtli. In the nearly 20 years since we first came into contact with the ministry of the Guëtli, the Lord has given us scattered opportunities to interact with different ones associated with the ministry while we lived in the Bordeaux area. In June, while we were still unpacking boxes and working at breakneck speed to try to get the house settled and ready for the other previously scheduled  hosting events, Tim received a call from Simon, a full-time worker with the Guëtli and leader of their youth group. Simon was planning a biking trip for their youth group through the Loire Valley, and wondered if they could connect with us and our church people in the Paris area for some Christian fellowship. As many things as were already on the docket, it seemed providential that they would be coming through at a time when nothing else was yet on the calendar, so we said, “Come ahead!”

On August 4, their 17-member group arrived and immediately put their Swiss ingenuity to work setting up their two army-style tents in our backyard (which I had thought was rather large until I saw how quickly it disappeared underneath their tents!). We offered the team exclusive use of our basement laundry room (which has a kitchen sink & microwave) for the storage and preparation of their food and our newly-created carport (converted from an old shed by the Cleveland Park Bible Church team) for the storage of their bikes and other camping supplies.

We invited people from our church over for a barbecue that first evening (with Selvam, one of our church men, doing a fabulous job at the grill). With our church people and the Guëtli team combined, we hosted more than 40 people in our yard and then in our living room that evening. The highlight of the Guëtli team’s visit for both groups was the opportunity to visit with Christians from another culture. For our church people, it was encouraging to hear the story of how the Guëtli was established and how the ministry seeks to further Gospel advance in Switzerland. For our Swiss friends who don’t have many opportunities to meet Christians outside their Swiss farmland context, our multi-ethnic assembly provided a great opportunity to demonstrate how God can bring together many people from many different cultures and home countries and give them a united heart to serve the Lord.

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Mission Team from Cleveland Park Bible Church

20 August 2016 | by Bixby

CPBC Team, July 8-18:

Deuteronomy 4:9 contains one of many admonitions in Scripture to look back and remember what God has done, being sure to recount His works to the generations to come: “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” We, no doubt like you, have often found courage to face the future and gained a renewed confidence in God’s hand of guidance as we have looked backwards at what He has done. Our biggest event of the summer afforded us the opportunity to reconnect with a part of our past and gave us the joy of connecting our past church family with the present, and, we trust, contributed toward opening doors of opportunity for future ministry.

In May of 2003, Tim became pastor of a little church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, that had become very dear to us as a couple. I (Ruth) had first gotten to know the family of Cleveland Park Bible Church as a college student. Shortly after Tim was installed as pastor, another young couple visited the church seeking their first church home as a married couple. It didn’t take Michael & Liz Cole long to become an integral part of the church body, with Michael serving as an elder, and at the same time the Lord knit our hearts together as couples seeking God’s mind about future missionary endeavors. Our hopes began to take shape when God brought in Dr. Ken Casillas to become the church’s pastor in 2008, and we joined the family of missionaries at EMU International and began our trek to France. The church has continued to be a vital part of our ministry here in France, serving as the sending church for both of our families and our primary accountability partners for the work we are seeking to do here.

Perhaps that quick overview will help you to understand why it was such an exciting thing for us to be able to receive a representative group from the church this summer. This mission trip had been long in the making, as we first began discussing the possibility with the leadership of CPBC more than two years ago. During those two years we also had the privilege of hosting some of the church leaders. Pastor Ken and Soraya Casillas came for a visit shortly after our installation in the Paris area in October of 2013. Then this summer’s mission team leader Dave Wilbur and his wife Becky and their boys came on a pre-mission team preparation trip last October. During that time with the Wilburs and in the months leading up to this summer’s mission trip, we worked as a team on a plan that we hoped would expose the CPBC mission team members to our ministry as well as to Christian brothers and sisters here, we sought ways in which the team could contribute to our outreach efforts, and we happily received their offers of manual labor and their ministry of personal encouragement.

 

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Back row: Donna Bixby, Travis Foster, Nathaniel & Tim Schlichting, Dave Wilbur, Robert Hurst, Tim, Zacharie, Ruth & Gabriel Bixby; Middle row: Miriam Bixby, Thomas Cole, Micaiah Bixby, Timothy Wiggins, Becky Bjur, Liz & Michael Cole; Front row: Dawn Schlichting, Allison Bell, Anna Grace Casillas, Jessica Coggins, Viviane, Mathieu & Adeline Cole (not pictured: Kristi Colas)

 

The goals for the mission team were primarily two-fold: 1) to expose the team to our ministry here, giving them a taste for French missions and our ministry specifically; 2) to use the extra manpower the team could provide to further our labors.

One of the most obvious ways the team could observe the ministry is by attending church. We are in a unique stage of a church-planting ministry in that we are still meeting half the month with our mother church and the other half of the time we have begun our separate church plant meetings in a rented restaurant. The mission team’s stay encompassed two Sundays, allowing them to experience both of those church gatherings. Their first Sunday with us we met with the smaller church plant group of about 40 people in the restaurant, allowing the members to get a feel for the new work that has begun. That first Sunday the team members participated in the teaching during the Sunday school hour, and they received their first real taste of what it is like to attend a church service in a primarily French culture and to interact in a language that is not your mother tongue.

During their second Sunday with us, the team members took part in a full day of church activities at our mother church in Saint-Denis. There, too, several of the team members were able to participate, either through preaching or giving testimony. On a typical Sunday at the church of Saint-Denis, an American visitor will experience a worship service filled not only with French people and the French language, but he will also see many other participants dressed in the long, flowing Indian garb or bright African prints. Following the morning worship service, mission team members were able to enjoy a church potluck with all in attendance (around 180 people), giving them an opportunity to interact with the Christian brothers and sisters who form this very multi-ethnic group and to taste food from a variety of cultures. (Our Tamil ladies worked especially hard to make sure the Americans got to experience real Indian food!) In the afternoon, everyone re-gathered to hear the testimonies of several people from both sides (the CPBC group and members of the Saint-Denis church) shared through a translator, giving an opportunity for both groups of people to appreciate some of the differences and yet also the similarities of the circumstances in which God uses to draws souls to Himself. Several of the team members related what an impression it had made on them to be able to worship in such a multi-ethnic setting.

Another activity that we planned to help expose the team members to French missions was an evening sharing a meal in the homes of people from our church plant. The team members were divided up into small groups and enjoyed one of their few opportunities to interact in a “real-life setting”.

The team also served us and labored with us in various ways. Team members worked alongside our church people on three different days, canvassing part of our target area with Gospels of John and an invitation to our bi-monthly church meetings. Here in France, we are allowed to put flyers directly into mailboxes, and these outreaches enabled us to distribute a few thousand invitations and Gospels.

As another outreach, the CPBC team helped us to execute two Bible clubs in our target area. Both of these clubs were held outside in a park, and we had between 15 and 20 children at each club. Team members assisted in the games and crafts and made good friends with the children, proving that sometimes language isn’t even necessary in order for hearts to be knit to one another. Both of these outreach efforts, the Bible clubs and the distributions, provided additional opportunities for the team members to work alongside our church people.

The team also served our families very personally and physically, spending two days doing work around our homes. The majority of the team members worked around our house, participating in some deep cleaning but especially working on cleaning out an old shed and adapting it to be used as a carport for our family van. The work was certainly not luxurious, but the team members participated willingly and accomplished more than we expected. A smaller group spent the two workdays at the Coles’ home, doing some electrical work in order to install a ventilation system in their only bathroom and helping out with some other small house projects.

The mission team’s visit was not without its challenges (including a round of chicken pox among the missionary children and pink-eye which affected several people), but we saw God answer many prayers to enable us to meet those challenges. On this side of the visit, we can gratefully testify that any difficulties encountered were worth the effort, and we trust those efforts will in some way bear long-term fruit for the kingdom.

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Summer 2016 Overview

15 August 2016 | by Bixby

Well, it’s been a while since we’ve been able to update this blog with some of our goings-on, because we’ve been a little too caught up in living through the goings-on (particularly with summer visitors!). But with summer nearly over now, it’s time we took a few minutes to catch you up. Below is an chronologically-organized overview of what’s been taking place in our neck of the woods, and then we plan to elaborate some more details of a few of the events in upcoming posts.

May 17 :

After a good bit of uncertainty and last-minute changes to the program right up until the week before, we finally closed on our new house with just a few days to spare before we had to turn in the keys to our rental.

May 18 – July 1:  

These six weeks can be best described by our getting moved in and settled while still maintaining the regular school (the French summer break didn’t begin until July 5) and church (including June’s month-long emphasis on the family which brought about some special teaching and discipling activities) schedules.

Donna.JessicaJune 21-25:

We hosted our first overnight guests in our new home! Tim’s sister Donna Bixby and Jessica Coggins, a friend from our home church, spent the better part of a week with us. They both participated a few weeks later in the mission team that came in July. FunwithAuntieDonnaWe were able to take one partial-day outing with them to visit nearby Chantilly, but otherwise just enjoyed visiting, attending a few end-of-the-year school and conservatory activities and profiting from their help as we continued our preparations for the summer team. Our entire family loved the extra opportunity to catch up with “Auntie Donna” and getting to know Jessica whom we had only met once before this summer.

June 27 – July 17:

Becky Bjur, a short-termer interested in missions in France, arrived for a three-week visit in between her year of teaching in China and returning to her parents’ home in Chile for the rest of the summer. We had first met Becky two years ago when she passed through with the Musical Mission Team. While Becky spent her nights with a church friend, she spent most of her days with us and contributed greatly to our family needs as we finished up some painting and deep cleaning that was still needing to be done before the mission team’s arrival. We so appreciated her eagerness to serve and her genuine interest in and love for our children. Becky.boysBecky also participated in a vital way with all the mission team activities. Her background as an MK coupled with her knowledge of the French language (gained through her university studies), as well as her ability to manage the transportation system of a large metropolis (gained during her months in Shanghai), all proved to be a great asset during the mission team’s stay. While on a human level it seemed the intersection of these two events (Becky’s and the mission team’s visits) was somewhat “coincidental”, it was very clear to us that God had perfectly orchestrated the timing of both events. We are praying that God will continue to lead and guide Becky as she pursues His direction for the future.

July 1-5:

Even in the midst of all the craziness in that period of house settling and team preparation, we IMG_2633managed to squeeze in a quick trip to our old stomping grounds of Bordeaux. The big draw was the wedding of Jana Christy, the daughter of Bordeaux missionary friends Ed & Sylvia Christy, to Kéran Xandry from our church in Saint-Denis. Kéran is the son of Pastor Albert and Patricia Xandry, and we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to take part in this special event with friends from both areas where we have lived and labored in France. A large contingency from the Paris area made the six-hour trek down for the wedding, and it was a special joy to visit with Tim’s parents and our former church family in Pessac with about 45 extra guests from Saint-Denis. We enjoyed introducing Christian brothers and sisters from our two church families to one another. We also enjoyed being in Bordeaux over July 4th, where Tim’s parents had planned an American celebration with other American missionaries of the area.

July 8-18:

CPBC TeamThis 10-day period was the culmination of months of planning (it was first scheduled two years ago!) as we enjoyed receiving a mission team from Cleveland Park Bible Church from Spartanburg, South Carolina. CPBC is our stateside home church (which Tim had pastored for nearly five years before we were commissioned as missionaries to France) which also serves as a sending church for both our family and our coworkers, the Coles. Once again it was a huge joy to see two worlds merge (our former church family from South Carolina with our present church family in France). We also enjoyed getting to know some newer members (at least since we were last there regularly!) of CPBC, and we always love sharing our burden for French missions with fellow Americans. If you are interested to hear more, stay tuned for another post about the team’s visit shortly.

July 19: 

An extra day with Robert Hurst. The previous day had been filled with lots of goodbyes (and several runs to the airport as the various team members left on different flights). IMG_3096Long-time friend Robert Hurst was one of the last to be deposited at the airport (around 2 p.m. for his planned 4:30 departure). We were surprised to receive a call from him at 10:30 that evening saying that after sitting on the airplane for five hours, the flight had finally been canceled. Though we felt bad for him and particularly his family who were back in the States looking forward to his return, we weren’t even tempted to complain about the extra day we were given to visit with him. Robert has a deep love for the Lord and has been spiritually gifted as an encourager, and we enjoyed spending a little extra time fellowshipping with him.

TyrpakVisitJuly 27-29:

Visit with Pastor Joe & Hannah Tyrpak and their daughter Karis from Tri-County Bible Church in Madison, Ohio. Tim and Joe are good friends from college days, and the Tyrpaks have been wonderful encouragers and supporters of our ministry here in France since before we even arrived. The Tyrpaks were commissioned by their church to go on a missionary encouragement trip to two other missionary families in Europe, and we were so pleased that the Lord arranged to give them the best ticket price through Paris so that we, too, could enjoy a little time with them. We have always enjoyed rich spiritual conversation and edifying ministry encouragement whenever we have been able to squeeze in a passing visit with the Tyrpaks, and it was so much fun to be able to host them on our side of the ocean! They were only with us for about 48 hours, but during that time we were able to give them a fast-speed tour of Paris, a walk through our village, several chats around mealtimes and coffee, and the kids even designed and executed with a “play” that they presented to us before our visit ended. They also spent a few hours with the Coles, and then we invited one of the other elders and his family (originally from India) to come to supper so we could give them another perspective of life and ministry in our area. Though our time together was brief, it was very refreshing.

IMG_7533August 1-2:

Anna Grace Casillas, who been with the team from Spartanburg that visited a few weeks prior, passed back through on her way back home after having visited family in Wales. She was with us for just one night on her way back through, but that gave us a good excuse to have over several young people from church who had made friends with the CPBC team during their stay. We enjoyed eating pizza, playing ping-pong and a musical evening gathered around the piano and with instruments singing hymns and Christian songs in both French and English.

August 4-6:

Visit from Swiss friends from the Guëtli. More on this in another blog post!

August 7-12:

Last week, we enjoyed some relaxed family time with Tim’s parents, Bob & Bonnie Bixby (from Pessac, France). Dad & Mom Bixby had not yet been able to come see our new home, so it was a special delight for us to show them God’s wonderful provision for us (which includes a basement bedroom/office where they can have their own little corner when they come to visit–something we have never had before!). We also appreciated Dad’s help on a house project on the shed in our new back yard, and we thoroughly enjoyed a one-day outing which included visits to two historic sites: the museum (about 40 minutes away from us)  which relates the story of the boxcar in which the WWI armistice was signed and in which Hitler later forced French war officials to sign their capitulation in 1940, and the nearby city of Noyon, one of the oldest established towns in the history of France and the birthplace of John Calvin. However,  whenever we are together, the biggest thing that always remains on our minds is what a blessing it is to have Christian parents who share in the blessings of the faith with us and who are eager to serve a role in passing that faith on to our children. We and our children enjoyed late-night talks and early morning jogs, putting together a puzzle and practicing reading, as well as gathering together to read the Bible, sing and pray, and just generally spending some quality family time together.

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Looking ahead:

This week we are trying to tie up some loose ends, prepare for the coming school year, and get ready for a trip to southeastern France next week (August 22-27). If you see this before then, we would appreciate your prayers for Tim as he will have the opportunity to preach several times at a special music camp organized and hosted by our coworker Kristi Colas and her Christian French music association Ecclemusica. Our entire family is looking forward to spending time with other believers and honing our musical skills at next week’s camp.