Missionary Update: John Mark & Judy Hatcher in France [January 2012]

Missionaries John Mark and Judy Hatcher have been serving the Lord in Tournefeuille, France since 1999. They define their ministry as “disciple-making,”

January 9, 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last month started well with the ladies of our congregation having one of their quarterly fellowship meetings at Suzanne Riedel’s house. The ladies have fellowship, share with each other the blessings they have received, pray together, and have a Bible Study. This time the Bible Study was on being the light of the world. Each lady listed the people that God had used as a light for them and then made a list of people for whom they could be light. They then prayed about this.

The men think these meeting are a great idea and want to have one for themselves, but they seem to have difficulties in planning and implementing. Philip and I have tried to leave the planning in their hands in order to help them take responsibility.

Lydia, our youngest daughter, along with Adam her husband, and their two children were with us for Christmas and New Years. This made the Holidays extra special. All the regular activities are going well.

Some ladies met together for a Bible Study and a time of fellowship last month. They studied about being the light of the world, listed people that God had used as a light for them, and made a list of people for whom they could be light.

Just before Christmas Steve Wainright asked me to put together some information about our call to France and what God is doing here. He wanted to make it a part of his message for the Winter Conference in Gotha, Florida. Since you may not have gotten to go to Florida, the same information might help drive some chill out of your bones wherever you are this Winter.

About fourteen years ago we were caught somewhat by surprise by God moving in our lives and hearts to move us to France in order to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The general job description did not change, but the people to which we were now directed was a total surprise.

In my teen years I had often told the Lord that if He wanted me to pastor or be a missionary I would be glad to do so. In response, Heaven seemed to be silent. Had God spoken to me earlier on this subject, I think that my preparation would have been quite different. As it turned out, following God’s general written directives and my interest in science, I prepared for a career as a doctor. My thinking was along these lines…people listen to their doctor so why not use this as a platform to communicate the Gospel.

I was totally upended by what seemed to be a clear call to be a proclaimer of the gospel that came to me in the middle of my Junior year at the University of Kentucky. It occurred when I was with a number of other believers in prayer. This was not the topic that we had been pursuing in the discussions prior to the time of prayer and it took me totally by surprise. Up to this moment I thought that I was following God’s will as I prepared for a career in Medicine. This new direction was confirmed in interesting ways from several different sources. After consulting with other believers, I said, “Lord, I am going to pursue this new direction assuming that it is your will.” Immediately, I had a sense of peace.

In retrospect, I realize that God wanted me to spend time on a public University campus in the field of natural sciences as part of the preparation for what He wanted me to do. God seems to be always using those who are willing in the present while simultaneously preparing them for service in the future. For brevity, we will skip forward through 26 years of preparatory service.

Once again, I was broadsided by this change in direction that God had in store for us. Within a relatively short period of time and through a number of confirming witnesses we became aware of the great spiritual need of the French people and were moved by a passionate desire to go and make disciples in this nation. A nation where over 50% of the people are atheist, 10% are Muslim, there is great despair and where all is tainted by general distrust. A nation where the number of believers is a fraction of a percent; one of the most unevangelized countries of the world. This country of 36,000 communities and a population over 60 million has just a few more than 100 Baptist churches with an average size of 30 members. Most of the people in these churches are immigrants. A nation for which I previously had no special interest!

We live and work in a city of 30,000. The only church besides ours is a small Catholic church. There is a synagogue that meets in a house. Our work includes several other communities in a radius of about 1 hour of driving time.

On arrival, we knew no one. God has marvelously intervened to bring people to Himself. Some of these have since moved away. There are people who were once a part of our congregation who now live in 7 different countries. We still have regular contact with many of these and they share with us what God is doing in their lives. There are about 35 people who meet in Tournefeuille. Of these, 19 have trusted the Lord and followed Him in baptism. There are other interested people and believers who participate in Bible studies at other locations. We have meetings for teenagers several times during the year. This is a new area of opportunity. Seventeen young people were at the last meeting we held.

We have contact with many people who do not participate in meetings and to whom we are able to witness. We are here to help them come to Christ and our desire is to see many disciples doing the same as God uses us and you in this endeavor.

Thank you for your participation. May God richly bless you.

Shining the Light in France,
John and Judy Hatcher
4, rue d’Aspin
31170 Tournefeuille, France