Jesus in the City of Lights

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September, 2018

Dear Friends,

The City of Paris has long been the setting for romance and adventure. In her memoirs, The Only Street in Paris, master story-teller Elaine Sciolino recounts the marvels of the intricate, richly-human, colorful lives on a single street, La Rue des Martyrs, in the Pigalle Quarter. There she could purchase the best foods, buy the most specialized books, and witness the many public spectacles on the sidewalks. Each of its dwellers is a character, and each has a contribution to make. Paris is also the setting for the generation of world-changing trends and ideas.

Significantly the Rue des Martyrs is bookended by two historic churches, Notre Dame de Lorette and the Sacré-Cœur. Paris is populated by churches throughout the city. A many of them have stories going far back into the recesses of history. Sadly, not all of them have kept their original verve. Yet new initiatives are occurring on a regular basis. And they still connect with history, without being stuck in nostalgia.

Here is a marvelous story. A number of years ago Samuel Foucachon, a graduate of Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence, was working for a Jewish business man who knew he was a Christian and was deeply aware of Protestant history (there has always been a special connection between the Jewish community and French Huguenots who harbored them during the Nazi occupation). The man invited Samuel into his home and gave him a Bible from 1638. This Bible included a copy of the Gallican Confession, a rarity in that day. It had originally belonged to a Pastor Jacques Lafon, who signed the Confession. Today this Bible has come back to the Latin Quarter of Paris, where the Confession had originally been proclaimed. Samuel is the founding pastor of a church in the Chapelle de Nesle, two blocks from where the first Reformed synod met to ratify the Confession. Such an historical link gives credibility to the new church.

Samuel is not the only church-planter in Paris. Aix graduate Benoit Engel is working with Ed and Laura Nelsen, who have been involved in planting a church in the 17th arrondissement, where I grew up! The International Presbyterian church is planning to establish a community led by Westminster grad Gethin Jones. There are many more. As one person put it, “It’s the light of Jesus in the City of lights.”

Very Truly Yours,

William Edgar,
President

Rentrée 2018

  ——— Start of the School Year 2018 ———

——— Start of the School Year 2018 ———

L A F A C U L T É J EA N C A L V I N
invites you again this year to the heart of what matters.

Thank you for staying vigilant with us
in prayer, in testimony and in action,
defending the sovereignty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
in everything we will experience together
during this new year!

Pray with us
for each new student
who will start their training course in Aix,
and for those who will finish it.

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Between Karikal and Pondichéry

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I spent my early childhood years in India, between Karikal and Pondichéry, former French trading posts. The cultural setting I grew up in was dominantly Muslim and Hindu, but at my private primary school I had a brief taste of Catholicism.

I came to live in France in 1964 when I was 5 years old. Three memorable landmarks stand out in my early life in France:
    - the joy of being able to attend Christmas mass
    - the childish joy of reading in a book, maybe a missal that the man who was said to be God said, "Let the children come to me and don't hinder them."
    - a hitch in my search for God when I was not allowed to follow catechism classes. My parents made it clear to me that I belonged to another religion which had its own gods, which even in certain way worshipped all gods!

For a long time I followed on in this syncretic religion which had such a disturbing mystical force, but I was also drawn to the all-powerful Christ. I was torn: how could I betray my parents by abandoning their faith? How could I follow Christ alone?

And so I went on in this ambiguous frame of mind until the age of 45. At the baptism of a long-standing friend I discovered something totally unknown to me until then: Protestant faith, with its strength firmly rooted in the Scriptures. I then found answers to my questions through some unexpected encounters. I also had two disturbing dreams and received a sign that left me scarred for life. And finally, in awe and fear of the Lord, I bowed the knee and confessed my faith in Christ. I pray God will allow me to continue to build on the rock which is Jesus Christ, to be ready to serve his church, and witness to his name by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Kali Kit, student 

A Sweet Revelation

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My name is Pierre. I'm 33 years old. I was born in Aix-en-Provence but I grew up in a large Protestant family in Chartres, just about an hour southwest of Paris. After my Baccalauréat (high school diploma), I studied for four years in Tours and Nice and completed the first year of a Master's degree in history. Then I was a librarian in Paris for severn years. This enriching work experience taught me many things and allowed me to meet people, read a lot and live a nice life in Paris, surrounded by friends and the church community. But something was about to happen...

It took me several years to understand the call of the Lord. It was through hard times and unemployment that God touched me and began to work in me, even though at the time I wasn't fully aware of his action. That's when I started reading the Bible regularly and developing an interest in theology and spiritual matters. It was a gradual process. It wasn't until the fall of 2016 that I realized that I wanted to become a pastor. It was a sweet  and powerful revelation, made possible by the guidance of my prayers and the Holy Spirit. Things fell into place, both in my spirit and in my heart. I was happy and grateful for everything that was happening to me and the way it all unfolded. "He has made everything beautiful in his time." (Ec. 3:11)

From that moment forward, I made the decision to attend the Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence., where students are taught the reformed, evangelical theology inspired by the works of John Calvin, a more orthodox doctrine than its liberal, Parisian counterpart. This is the main reason why I chose this university. Another reason was that my grandfather also studied here and worked as a minister in this city for several years. Finally, the last reason was my desire to come back to my birthplace, a beautiful city bathed in the light and warmth, on the foothills of the famous Sainte-Victoire mountain that Cézanne painted so often.

This is, in a nutshell, the story of my life and destiny as a student in Aix, with the help of God!

"Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" (Prov. 20:24)

Pierre Guibal, student

Graduation Photos

The Faculté Jean Calvin 2018 graduation program was held on June 22 at the seminary. The speakers (in the order shown) were Michael Johner, Dean and Prof. of Ethics and History; Frédéric Bican, FJC graduate and pastor of a church in Grasse near Nice; and Yannick Imbert, Prof. of Apologetics and Church History. The FJC Choir provided music. Prof. Imbert presented diplomas to the graduates. The program was followed by a buffet dinner in the lovely garden of the seminary. Pierre-Sovann Chauny, Prof. of Systematic Theology is shown holding his young daughter. Prof. Imbert is shown with Pierre Berthoud, Prof. Emeritus and FJC Board President. Some of the younger children were more interested in picking snails from the plants than eating dinner! Students put on skits, this one involving Peter, the sheet let down from heaven and the voice from heaven saying, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ It was a grand time of celebration and fellowship!

Pray With Us

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Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. ~ Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

LET'S PRAY TOGETHER FOR
FACULTÉ JEAN CALVIN

- for donations to help FJC honor commitments during the summer
- that more people will decide to receive their training with FJC
- for this time of rest and service for the students
- for the teachers as they rest and prepare for the new academic year

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only the Word truly quenches thirst

Reformation, not Revolution

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May, 2018

Dear Friends,

Fifty years ago this month the city of Paris was in a turmoil. Almost everything solid melted down. Students forced schools and universities to close; 11 million factory workers went on strike; and public transportation ground to a halt. President de Gaulle dissolved the National Assembly, and then fled the country, to the French military base in Germany where General Massu encouraged him to return. Events might have become seriously worse. Total chaos was right around the corner. And then... things calmed down almost as quickly as they had begun. Yet the upheaval of mai ‘68 is forever grafted into the French mindset.

Some of my friends even today are proud of their participation in the strikes. They call themselves “soixante-huitards” (sixty eighters). Like most revolutions, what the people were against was clearer than what they were for. Anti-authoritarian slogans echoed all over, which bespoke the general mentality: “il est interdit d’interdire” (it is forbidden to forbid); “jouissez sans entraves” (rejoice without limits), “Je suis Marxist – tendance Groucho” (I am a Marxist of the Groucho type); “CRS = SS (the National Guard is the S.S.). And yet, like most revolutions, it was not enough to be against the perceived abuses.

To be sure there were issues in need of change. The Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence opened its doors shortly after this mini-revolt. It boldly asserted a need not for revolution but reformation. The difference is crucial. We wanted to acknowledge the real needs for change but within a biblical worldview. We rejected the feverish tide of revolutionary fire which still plagues the French mindset, while we sincerely recognized the deep need for a true reformation.

If you would like to know more about the history and present influence of Jean Calvin Seminary, then, as you are able, come to our Soirée, October 12, 2018, in the Carriage House at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. We are hoping our featured guest will be Rodrigo De Sousa, professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Aix. Rodrigo holds the PhD from Cambridge University, and is an expert on Isaiah. Most important, he is passionate about the Gospel in modern Europe and will articulate the spiritual state of the union as he sees it.

Very Truly Yours,
William Edgar,
President

Lucas Cobb

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Hello, my name is Lucas Cobb and I am 18 years old. Over the last few years I have felt called by God to study Theology, and prayed for guidance. After graduating from high school I decided I really was called to this. I’m so glad to be able to use the gifts God has given me in studying Theology and singing in the Sh’ma choir.

The choir tour in the Netherlands was physically demanding yet a great blessing. We grew closer as a group and also discovered a new aspect of spiritual life. Far from feeling like foreigners in the Netherlands we were all blessed with a spirit of fellowship with believers is a different country.

We were hosted by Christian families, many who pray for the Faculty regularly. Through our visit to Holland we got to know some of the churches in the Netherlands that support the work of the Faculty. I was glad to be able to share my experiences of studying at the Faculty.

Finally, as a musician, I very much appreciated the organ pieces. At every concert we sang “A toi la gloire”, one of my favorite hymns. Singing it with fellow believers from another culture was really quite moving. It strengthened the bond between Christians and allowed me to see that language is not an obstacle to sharing the same faith, centered on Christ our only Lord and Savior.

I am grateful to the Lord for our visit to the Netherlands with the choir. I thank God because He used our singing to encourage and bring people to Christ. To God be glory for eternity!

Lucas Cobb
First year student in Theology at the Faculté Jean Calvin