This conference, Louange Côte Ouest, in the beautiful little town of Brem-sur-Mer, with its beautiful Atlantic beaches, has been wonderful. The Vendee has been a notoriously ‘dry’ area spiritually for a very long time: the hundred years war turned much of the Vendee into a battleground (1337-1453), and again in Napoleon’s time. Other events have meant that it’s an area where much blood has been spilt, and the over-riding ‘feel’ is of a territorial spirit of conflict.
This has more than contaminated the churches, with a very pronounced Catholic-Protestant divide: and many of the Protestant churches seem to live in the pre-war world of the United Kingdom…. people having to leave churches because they listened to ‘evil’ music (no, not bands like Black Sabbath! – people like the lovely Chris Bowater!!).
Into this moved my dear 30+ year long friends, Colin & Sue Enticknap: not to ‘chillax’ on the beach, but to take on the principalities and powers, and do evangelism. It’s been 10 years since they
moved here: 7 years of Louange Côte Ouest (West Coast Praise), and their hard, difficult, often lonely quest is really shifting the powers that cloud that this glorious ‘department’. I’ve had the privilege of coming three times now: each time, God has clearly moved everything up a few notches…
This time, as always, fantastic worship: in the past led by the lovely Bruno Laffitte and Hélène Goussebayle, this time by the lovely Yannick Billiou. He’s been fantastic, and his band have been so, so good, yet ‘unnoticeable’ as they are all humble guys, who are worshippers.
What’s is great about the conference is that it’s ‘label’ free! – no denomination boundaries, no ‘superstar’ titled preachers (I’m here, for goodness sake!!!). The speakers are all committed to Colin and Sue’s work here: all having been before, or living here, or – as with my great friends Dennis and Cathy Acott, from Maidstone – people with a love and passion for France. All the sessions and seminars have gone wonderfully well, and the Presence of God has been tangible in the meetings. The special joy – for me – as I’ve said in another blog, is the presence of some absolutely fantastic Charismatic Catholics, from the Community, The Beatitudes. This morning, the main speaker was a man I came to love instantly, three years ago – Frère Jean-Marie de la Croix. Jean-Marie is –
well, a delight would be to understate him – he’s a blessing, pressed down, shaken together, and running over! This morning, dressed in his habit, and ‘monk’ gear(!!) he preached a wonderful message that would do credit to any of the best Charismatic Evangelicals in most nations. I’d love to disguise him, and take him to some of the ‘stiffer’ churches in the UK, and then, once on the platform, to reveal his habit…and blow the churches out of the water! Maybe I will just do that….. 🙂
Yesterday, a great friend, David Champion, who’s been here with Colin & Sue, every year for 10 years, with his lovely wife, Margaret and daughter Debbie, spoke really well. David is a medical walking miracle, has led some ‘well known’ churches, but is so beautifully humble. Dennis, much to his (initial!) consternation got to speak at the main celebration in the evening yesterday. Speaking on ‘An Open Heaven’, he was excellent. The best way to overcome your fear is to run at it, hit it head on, and it disappears…. Dennis did that yesterday.
Tonight, yours truly got the main meeting, with outstanding, gifted, skilled, and fun translator, Jean Philippe Roullier doing the ‘French’ honours for me…..We had such a blast 2 years ago, and it was fantastic tonight….
So, what have we seen? The heavens open…. the Presence of God in the Vendee department…. the territorial spirits being pushed back by the opening of the heavens…. deaf ears opened…. a lovely lady, Janine, chronic arthritic (yes, knees too! – but mainly hips – 2 replacements right leg, and FIVE (all failed) left leg… wheelchair bound for any sort of short distance walking, two walking sticks other time – get out of her wheelchair, and walk – fast – around the group of people in the seminar. Today, she arrived sans-wheelchair (without – but that might be Spanish, sans!!), with just one support in case of need, walking fast, well, and with pain drastically reduced…. many other lovely healing blessings for people, some being freed from hereditary stuff, some from deep hurts inflicted by church in the past – so sad that should be such a common area of ministry, not just here, but in many countries in the western world….
Both days have been about 16-17 hours long: lengthened slightly back here at Colin & Sue’s home (with Dennis and Cathy), for the obligatory baguette, and the glass of doctor-prescribed medicinal crushed grape juice… ;). I’ve got a feeling that tomorrow might just turn into the same length day or longer, but feeling utterly shattered when it’s because God has turned up, and wants to heal and set free his saints here in gorgeous France.
You know, I’d encourage anyone to come next year: to experience power, presence, and GENUINE unity with brothers and sisters from different ‘persuasions’ of God’s church. We don’t have to agree on everything: just love each and find that the common reference point is the RISEN LORD JESUS!!! Back in 1991, there was a catchily titled conference in Brighton – The International Charismatic Convocation for World Evangelisation (!) and at it, I remember to this day, a Thai pastor, with the equally catchy and memorable name, Kriengsak Chareongwongsak, say this:
If you came next year, you could then ‘holiday’ in Brem-sur-Mer, or nearby Les Sables d’Olonne, or La Rochelle…. and just think of fresh baguette and medicinal grape juice…. 🙂 Oh, and Colin & Sue offer a lovely Chambre D’Hote (Bed and breakfast) 🙂