Israel and France Mission Trip 2013

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’” – Isaiah 43:5-6

“Therefore, give the exiles this message from the Sovereign Lord: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you were scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.” Ezekiel 11:16-17

Kfar Sava and Re’ut

Made it to Israel!DSC_0061

I arrived Tuesday morning and was picked up by Nurit Amir, my dear friend Gali Kinel’s mom who lives in a Kibbutz about 30 minutes north of the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Kfar Sava.  “Kibbutz” is the Hebrew word for a communal establishment.  The first kibbutzim (plural of “kibbutz”) were founded some 40 years before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Their founders were young Jewish pioneers, mainly from Eastern Europe, who came not only to reclaim the soil of their ancient homeland, but also to gorge a new way of life.  Overcoming many hardships, they succeeded in developing thriving communities which have played a dominant role in the establishment and building of the state. (CLICK HERE to Read More…)

Lucien & Bridgette Castera: Answering God’s Call in France

Just a short train ride from the hustle and bustle of Paris, the scenery slowly begins to change. The sounds of honking horns and sirens fade, making way for the gentle sway of the train passing beautiful fields of blooming rapeseed—interrupted only by narrow roads leading from one small town to the next.

Our recent trip to the Burgundy region of France led us to one special town in particular: Arcy Sur Cure.  Harvest Alliance missionaries Lucien and Bridgette Castera moved to the quaint community several years ago to open a bed and breakfast that serves as a vacation getaway for missionaries and pastors, as well as a ministry outreach to the local community. La Maison de Rafah has become a popular B & B in the area!

As with many European countries, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ falls on deaf ears with strangers. Consequently, the value of building genuine relationships over time becomes a goal of missionaries answering the calling to share their faith.

The Casteras host small Bible studies with believers and seekers in their area, an English conversation class, and community events including cooking competitions and fun get-togethers.  The fun part of the story is how the couple met! Bridgette, an accomplished chef and Florida native, met Lucien when the Frenchman came to work at the same Orlando restaurant she whipped up dishes for.  A common love for Christ, and expertise in the food and hospitality industry made for an interesting combination! When they moved to France, they were drawn to the Arcy Sur Cure community and knew they wanted to open a bed and breakfast. The results have been impressive. Guests are spoiled with superb food, a beautiful view, and large bedrooms that rival some of Paris’ finest hotel rooms.  Warm, flaky croissants and freshly squeezed juices are a great start to any day!

Cobblestone streets, faded brick homes with brightly colored shutters, and potted flowers lining the windowsills, round out the picturesque representation of the Burgundy region.  Their seven-year-old son adds to the cheery setting.

Our visit included a workday to help prepare the home for the busy summer season. This fun day of spring cleaning allowed for a great opportunity to learn more about their ministry, see what their day-to-day life is like, and deepen a meaningful friendship with one of the many missionary families that Harvest Alliance is proud to help support. And of course, that evening, Bridgette sent us on our way with a freshly made Quiche Lorraine to enjoy on the train. What a treat!

Keep the Castera family in your prayers: for a strong faith, good health, and the spiritual endurance to continue to answer God’s call. Pray for hearts in the region to soften toward the Lord and to be hungry to learn more about the hope that is only found in Jesus.  To learn more, visit www.raphahouse.net. -By Jenna Sampson

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