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

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

I Felt the Call

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My name is Marlies ten Voorde and I am 29 years old. I come from Woudenberg, a small village in the center of the Netherlands, near Utrecht. After studying medicine I began working in neurology in 2012. In 2015 I began the six-year program to become a specialist in neurology.

However my plans changed in 2016 when I felt the call to become a missionary. This was a completely unexpected turn of events, as I had thought I would be a neurologist all my life. After a few months of prayer and reflexion I decided to respond to this call. I applied to the mission board of my denomination to serve as a missionary in Guinea (Conakry). I stopped my studies in neurology and since June 2017 I have been getting ready to work in Guinea. I am in Aix for 3 months to work on my French, the language spoken in Guinea. I follow classes at the Faculté Jean Calvin and take part in church activities. Also I am living in the home of the family of the pastor Marc Toureille. It is a great opportunity to practice French (even theological vocabulary!) and get to know some French Christians.

I am due to return to the Netherlands on March 23 and leave for Guinea on April 10 for an indefinite period. For the first two years I will be learning the local language and culture. After that I will find out how I can spread the Word of God and maybe be able to work in health care.

Marlies ten Voorde