Thirteen years ago Irene and I moved away from Paris, France, and that was the last time I had seen Brad and Ann King. For 6 years we had worked together to help build a church family in Paris. We struggled to learn French together. We grew to understand and love the French culture. Our children were born about the same time. We were the best of friends. In 1992 we decided to move back home for family and career reasons, but mainly because the French church was strong and had mature French leadership. The King?s, on the other hand, decided to make Paris their permanent home. The church grew to a membership of over 1,000 during the years after we left. However, like many churches, the Paris Church has gone through difficult times over the last 3 years, and has probably even suffered more than most. Many members have left, and the church currently has no full-time staff. Brad and Ann King, however, have persevered through it all:
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thess. 1:2-3)
We saw the King?s again two weeks ago. They spent the night with us, giving us a lot of time to catch up, and it was like we had never left Paris. Our friendship started right where it left off. Irene and I were so encouraged and inspired by our time together. Brad and Ann are examples of faithfulness, hard work, and endurance, over the course of many years. They have helped stabilize the Paris Church, and played the role of peacemakers. They provide reliable council to students, singles, and couples. They have consistently served the church in any way possible through the years. God has blessed them with an exemplary marriage, and their children are spiritually focused. Over the last year Brad and Ann have helped rebuild the Paris Church, establishing a new French corporation, and providing spiritual leadership, including preaching regularly during Sunday services. Because of their faithfulness, and others like them, the church is growing again, and members are starting to trickle back.
I?ve thought a lot about our time together over the last 2 weeks. There is a lot to be learned from Brad and Ann King:
1) Their quiet, consistent service, and positive impact on hundreds of lives.
2) Their perseverance in living a Godly life over the course of over 20 years.
3) God blesses endurance through difficult times.
4) Commitment to the church works in the long run, in maintaining a healthy family life that provides a basis for a good marriage and spiritually focused children.
5) Their giving hearts, and doing what is right, even when feeling unappreciated.
Brad and Ann?s life preaches a powerful lesson, one that I think we all need to hear. God blesses those who put him first, especially those who persevere through times of doubt and difficulty. They teach us to give our hearts to God and our church family, and to remain invested and engaged to the fellowship.
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