Peter and Silje Lilly, our mission partners in Montpellier, South of France, give us an update on their mission.
An unexpected answer from God
In December 2017, we received a visit from our lovely UK Director, Kent. We talked about our ministry, our vision and where we were heading. We were honest about our situation, and Silje eventually said that we needed to give ourselves a deadline. If God hadn’t improved our finances by January 2018, we would simply not be able to remain in ministry. We were living on savings and ministry support gifts but that wouldn’t be enough to pay rent and the cost of living for the years to come. Something had to happen. A job had to come up, at least for one of us.
Radio Silence from the Academy
You will remember that Silje studied to get her TEFL and obtained it last summer. Since she sent her file to the Academy of Montpellier, she has bizarrely not heard back from them. None of it makes sense. She has a solid profile, and there is a great need for English teachers in French schools.
She calls them, sends emails, asks friends if it is normal to wait this long to get a reply from them…No, it is not normal they say. No one understands why Silje doesn’t get a response. Maybe they lost her file? That would easily happen in France. Maybe they can’t be bothered? That is a possibility too. Admin in France, remember?
Pete gets the job!
January 2018 hits us. We have now lived in our flat for almost a year and our gifts are just covering the rent. Silje hasn’t heard back from the Academy and we were hoping she was the one who could get an income. She reminds God that by the end of this month, something HAS to happen. On January 31st, we get a call from a christian friend asking if Pete would be interested to work for her a few days per week in a smoothie bar. He would start in February. We were speechless. Peter? Next month? God is very often answering last minute, but he also has a great sense of humour. We thought Silje would get the job but Peter was destined to be a Professional Fruit Blender! And so God not only confirmed our ministry, he also showed what is best for us both.
The Outcome of the Alpha Course
France, a tough public
Peter mainly lead the Alpha course up to the end of April. In the French context, the Alpha course is a tricky thing to offer. In the wider culture there is no concept of God here, and often not even a curiosity about Christianity so starting an Alpha course is quite a bold move. The discussions were always interesting, but we rarely got the same people coming back which made it impossible to follow a nice flow.
The end result is that we didn’t have a solid group forming out of this alpha course. However, we made some great connections with some of them, and are still meeting up individually to talk about God and the Bible. Also, after discovering people’s curiosities and interests, we are considering starting a theological and philosophical workshop from September onward!
Through the years, we have met quite a lot of leaders and fellow christians. We maintain good connections with them by visiting other churches, participating in some activities, and offering pastoral care and support. We try to embody Christ’s love to our brothers and sisters as well as to all the non-believers we minister to.
In April, Silje was was invited to preach in a home church with whom we’ve been linked for a while now. It was the first time she was invited to preach somewhere else and she really enjoyed it! People were so encouraged by her sermon and they told us they never get solid sermon’s in their home church as no one in their group has the time or the biblical background to regularly serve in this way. They asked her if she could come back and preach at their’s once in a while. We were very encouraged by their feedback and hope to keep encouraging them too in their journey with God.
Peter’s new job
Surrounded by Frenchies
When Peter started his job, he was obviously quite nervous. This was the first time he was going to be completely immersed in a French professional context! He got trained and got to know his colleagues.
Soon they all loved theirgentle British colleague and friendships sprang up. Our Christian friend who had hired him explained to us that she was going to open her own smoothie bar downtown in Montpellier and wanted Peter to come with her. So, until June, Peter worked with this lovely team and got really close with one guy in particular. No later than last week, this friend asked him if we could get him a good bible because he wanted to read it! We were absolutely thrilled.
Now, Down Town
From June until September, Peter will be doing a full time summer job so that we can save up some money for the year to come. Since this business is new, things are quite hectic and Pete has to calm things down more than once a day. He has already connected well with one of his new colleague and we are praying for God to open more doors within this new team, even if Pete really misses his old colleagues.
The Art Club
A shift from January 2018
In January several of the Christians girls attending Silje’s art club moved away from Montpellier for different reasons. The group got smaller but over a month, new people came. The dynamic between everyone was excellent and we soon realised that now 90% of the group was made up with non-believers. How great! New opportunities and new friendships.
We even came up with a name for our club, the Arty-Show! (= a play on word meaning artichoke, and it all started with one of Silje’s silly jokes as usual… It works better in French, honestly!)
Silje had her last workshop at the end of June and will start again in the autumn when people get back to a normal life. Looking back at this last year, we are so thankful for the amount of people that have come to the art club, sometimes just once, many every week, some randomly bringing friends or colleagues. Everyone is amazed that we are hosting a club like this in our flat and they truly feel home here. We’ve had many deep and moving conversations and look forward to what the next year holds.
Silje’s summer job
Professional Photography Editing
Since there still is no news from the Academy, we have accepted that God seems to have closed that door, for now. However there was a great surprise awaiting Silje in May. Cassandra, her sister in law who is married to Peter’s brother, is a professional wedding photographer with great success in England. Her summers are always very busy with weddings, and so she asked if Silje was interested to work for her with editing her photos. Silje started at the end of May and will carry on until the end of September. This is a great experience as photography has always been a passion for Silje, and editing professionally teaches her so many new techniques. And finally, this is a job she can do at home choosing her own hours which is extra important this summer. You might wonder why?
God’s best gift ever!
Well, our dear friends, we are thrilled to announce that Silje is pregnant!!! She is just three months pregnant and we have had our first scan.
We couldn’t believe it when we saw our little baby for the first time, so tiny yet so fully developed at just 11 weeks.
What a miracle life is, what a gift from God, what a privilege to become parents.
- For Peter to be able to cope with the stress at work, and the ongoing summer heat filling their tiny little smoothie bar.
- For Silje’s health during pregnancy, that there won’t be too many complications due to her already fragile neck and back structure, and chronic jaw pain.
- For God’s protection over our little child, that He may already fill him/her with his Spirit and strength.
- For all our friends and colleagues we minister to, that God may break through their walls and bring them closer to his light and his love.
- For us to get some time off in the autumn as we haven’t had a proper break since last September.