Newsletters 1999

Well, here we are again! Your quarterly update on all things 'marchy'! We would like to start by thanking all those who have prayed for us, encouraged us and supported us over the past year. Thank you for helping us respond to God's calling upon our lives.

Family Fortunes

I am pleased to be able to tell you that as I write this all of us are enjoying rude health - though some ruder than others! The boys continue to enjoy and do well at school. We await with eager anticipation Caleb's first school nativity play. In which he has been somewhat type-cast as an angel! Can you imagine it?! We are trying not to!

Ben and Josh have their own school concert which is a millennial celebration. We were delighted to see that it focuses very much on Jesus as "the man of the millennium". We really appreciate the religious input our children receive through their Church of England school.

Les Enfants En France

Many of you will be aware that we went to France in October for a combination of a few days holiday and also to meet up with an American couple who are currently working in France (it was David who wrote the book that so impressed us). Well, we had a WONDERFUL time!

"Béthanie", a Christian retreat centre in Normandy, was an ideal place - a big farmhouse with an orchard outside for the boys to run around in! There was even a dog "Obelix"! Being a 'French-speaking' dog, Obelix managed to teach our boys more French in 5 days than Sharon and I have managed in 5 years! Cries of "Viens Obelix!" and "Calme-toi Obelix!" rang out all day!

Bjorking Mad

The meeting with David and Diane Bjork was wonderful too. We established an immediate rapport. This was just as well since they surprised us by leaving home in Dijon at 4:30 A.M. in order to miss the Bank Holiday traffic around Paris. We were therefore caught in something of a state of 'unpreparedness', as I raced down the stairs, face half-covered in shaving foam, wearing only my trousers, whilst Sharon was shouting from the shower, "There's someone at the door!" So much for creating a good first impression!!

But as we talked (and talked, and talked!) over the weekend, we really felt a strong sense of affinity with the vision David and Diane have.

The final outcome of all this was that they said they would welcome our applying to their foundation as missionary candidates (mad fools that they are!)

On our return to England we spent 2 weeks as a family praying for clear guidance about whether this was what God wanted us to do. We do thank the many people who joined us in praying about this.

After these 2 weeks we were totally convinced that God had clearly showed us this was the right thing to pursue and so we have formally applied to "Servant of Servants Foundation" for consideration as missionary candidates for France.

Obstacle Racing

This is still very much 'early doors!' Even if we are accepted by SoS, at present they have no finance to support us.

However, we do believe it is the right thing to do and all the obstacles being removed will be further confirmation that this is God's will.

If everything falls into place the plan is that we would move to Dijon, close to David and Diane, and try to learn as much as we can from them. (The earliest possible time for this would be August 2000.)

As in any missions work, for the first few years our primary task will be language learning and developing an understanding of French history and culture. But it will be a tremendous help to have the benefit of David and Diane's experience and learning.


For those who are interested, the 'Vision Statement' and 'Basis of Faith' of SoS Foundation can be viewed on our website under "Servant of Servants".

If anyone would like to read even more about this approach to mission they should read David's book 'Unfamiliar Paths'. For those in Kilsyth, we have given a copy to Ian McIntyre to circulate - so please see him. Those of you not in Kilsyth (you should know who you are - if not ask someone!) can contact us directly and we can loan you a copy.

Alpha Mail

I am happy to be able to tell you that the Alpha course (an introduction to Christianity) that Sharon and I are helping to run in the local pub is going very well. One young woman has already decided to become a Christian!

As I'm sitting here thinking about Alpha, it just strikes me again, what a wonderful thing it is being able to share something of the awesome beauty of God with people who have never heard it! Just to be able to explain the love of God for men and women. To witness that 'cosmic moment', when suddenly they realise, for the first time, that Jesus came to Earth, lived and died because he loved THEM!

A lot of people got excited down here over the eclipse a few months back. All that nonsense because something glorious was being covered up. I guess what excites me is exactly the opposite - the veil of misunderstanding and blindness being removed and people coming face to face with the incomprehensible wonder of God! Oh yes Lord! I'm a player for some more of that!


The observant among you will have noticed a small photograph enclosed with this newsletter. (The less-observant are now frantically ferreting around in the bin!) We were kindly gifted these photo's so that you could see what we all look like now (sadly, none the more decorative!).

Please feel free to use these in imaginative ways (and I've a shiny sixpence for the bright boy or girl who can think of the best idea!). How about placing it on the fridge door, or your shaving/make up mirror SO YOU WILL REMEMBER TO PRAY FOR US (hint, hint!) - Cause that's what we want (what we really, really want!)

Much love from "The March Family"

March News - September 1999

Gearing Up

Hello everybody! Sorry for the long delay in updating you with our life and times. In mitigation can I beg the court's indulgence and point to the somewhat stressful contents of the past few months!

Seriously, many of you will already know about my father's recent illness. We greatly appreciate the prayers and expressions of love and concern shown to Mom and Dad and the wider March family during this time. I am pleased to be able to share with you that Dad is making good progress after his surgery, and will start chemo-therapy shortly. As a family we are convinced that all our days are in God's hands (Ps 139:16) and we have a sneaking suspicion that God hasn't quite finished with Dad yet!

Having completed my introductory sentence (!) I would like to bring your attention back to the title of this prayer letter, “Gearing Up”. Over the past few weeks several things have happened to increase our expectancy that our move to France is coming closer. I would like to share these with you now.

Bjork Talk

At the beginning of the summer, a German friend and former student, leaving Moorlands to go and work in Switzerland, gave me a book written by an American, describing his life and ministry in France. With me so far?!

This book was written in order to encourage a new approach to missions work in France. The writer was seeking to give a theological framework and methodological approach to this new model of mission.

The amazing thing was that the approach he was encouraging is very much based on relational as opposed to institutional evangelism - in other words, EXACTLY WHAT GOD HAS LAID ON OUR HEARTS with regard to how we see ourselves being involved in HIS work in France. You can imagine how excited Sharon and I were by this. After feeling that we were 'out of sync' with almost everybody we have contacted currently involved in missions work in France, to suddenly find a book where a guy is saying that 20 years of work in France has led him to exactly the type of approach we feel God would have us take has been amazing!

I then did a search on the internet, found the author's e-mail address, and got in touch, really just to say how much his book (Unfamiliar Paths by David Bjork) had meant to Sharon and I.

He replied the very next day, thanking us for our encouragement. The way has not always been easy for David and Diane, confirming what we already know - that France is a spiritually dark place, and the work very difficult. Subsequent to further e-mails and prayers, David suggested we meet up and see if there might be some connection between us! The result is on 25th October we go to Normandy (half-way for both of us) for a week. The first few days will be a family holiday and at the weekend David and Diane will join us.

Praise the Lord that he had already provided us with the funds for a holiday and given us the conviction that we were to wait until he showed us when and where we should go!

Please pray that any connection God would have us form would be clear to all concerned.

Talking the Talk

In July we had the opportunity to meet up with another missionary family - the Boltons. Mark and Judy have been in France, near Lille, for 16 years. We had a great time with them and again they were able to confirm that God is indeed working cross-denominationally in France.

One of the things Mark challenged us with was developing our French language skills - as an act of faith. He particularly suggested we try to find a native French- speaking Christian who would be willing to help us.

This seemed a bit of a tall order, but then we remembered Tanya. (The lady who saw our stained glass cross in the window and came to ask where we got it, and who turned out to be a native French-speaking Charismatic Catholic. She later invited Sharon to her ladies prayer meeting, which she now attends each fortnight!)

So Sharon and I prayed that if this was the person to help us, that Tanya would offer to do so. Well on Tuesday (7th) at the ladies prayer meeting, Tanya asked Sharon if we would like her to help us with our French! Tanya is a natural linguist and speaks French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, English and German! So on Wednesday (15th) we have our first lesson!

Teechin Ingleesh

Mark Bolton (see above) also shared with us his experience of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). He has done this as a means of earning a living whilst in France - Mark and Judy are not 'professional' missionaries, i.e. supported and sent out by an organisation.

This seemed to 'strike a chord' with Sharon and I. Although we had not really considered it before, we could see that it was something we could do well, and which would also bring us into contact with a lot of people. We looked into TEFL and found that there are places in Bournemouth where we could get the necessary training and qualification (it is a 4 week intensive course). We then talked to a few people about it and someone offered straight away to pay my fees (around £900!). So I have applied to do the course in Jan/Feb 2000, and I have an interview next week (16th).

Please pray that it would be clear if this is indeed the right step and also that God would show us whether Sharon should also seek to do this training/qualification.

Can Ya Feel It?

I hope that as we've shared what's been happening you have caught some of our excitement!

We really sense that 'everything is coming together'. We still have no definite 'options' to pursue, but we see God's hand at work in many ways and are confident that what he starts, he finishes!

Please pray that we will make the most of all the preparatory steps God is taking us through and that we would not miss any opportunities God gives us.

Please pray also that our ultimate call to an involvement in God's Kingdom in France would be clear and definite to all concerned.

The Here and Now

Having buzzed on about France, can I just share with you the more immediate happenings for the March's.


We now have 3 big boys at school, since Caleb started yesterday (8th)! All of them are doing well and settling in again to the school routine, but Caleb's teacher did say that he has been “a mister grumpy” so far! (that's ma boy - a chip off the old shoulder!) Although he did tell us that he prayed in the playground because the other boys were playing a 'bad game' - what a star!

Wet and Wild

The 2 guys our pastor and I took through the Christian basics course were baptised on Saturday (4th). It was wonderful. Praise God!

Alpha Mail

Sharon and I are running our church's Alpha course (starts 29th) in a local pub - “The Lamb Inn” - how appropriate! Please pray as we distribute the flyers that God would draw people to the course, and through the course to Jesus.

Please pray for protection and the Holy Spirit's anointing on all involved in the course. It is so encouraging to us that our discipleship group is responsible for the course this time around - including the couple who became Christians at Alpha this time last year! God is bringing people to us and we would ask you to please pray that those whom He wants to come along will do so.

Thank You

We do want to say a big thank you for your prayers and support over the past few months. We remain convinced of one thing above all others, that our primary need in terms of support is for faithful people to pray.

We did request prayer for a trip I made to France to do some building work. So here's some feedback.

Building Sights

The trip went well. We managed to do some work around the new church building - mostly small 'snagging' items. We also did a lot of work helping to renovate the pastor's house - re-roofing and painting mostly. I was very glad that people were praying as I was perched precariously, on a steeply sloping roof formed mostly out of woodworm!

However, the trip was very significant (and difficult) in that it gave us all a very deep insight into how badly wrong things can go spiritually for Christian workers in France. It would not be right for me to go into detail. But I am sure it was significant that on this trip were 2 of the leaders from Burton Community Church. For they have come back with a much greater sense of the pastoral support and encouragement missionaries need in order to stay spiritually 'healthy' when in France. I'm sure that God ordained the trip for this very purpose. So although it was difficult and painful, we are nonetheless grateful to God for it.

Stepping Backwards

I should share with you that, with this new sense of getting ready to move to France, has come the conviction we should step back from some of our BCC activities. So I have given up the Sunday childrens' work. Please pray for a replacement (one with a greater gifting!).

With much love and appreciation for all your prayer and support.

The Marches

March News - May 1999

“Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?”, says the Lord. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?”, says your God.
Isaiah 66:9

Just before you get worried, NO we are not about to have another baby. (There would certainly be a Stewards' Enquiry!) But the sense of this verse - having to hold on to the promises of God, having to wait helplessly for God to do what he has shown is his will - is very much an experience we are going through as a family right now.

Which is why this prayer-letter is somewhat delayed (sorry!). We have been waiting for something 'concrete' to share with regard to the future and France - but there isn't anything.

For those of you who have done the Experiencing God discipleship course, we are currently in the 'Crisis of Belief' phase! We are having to make the choice between looking at our circumstances and believing what they are telling us i.e. "we are up Calamity Creek without a paddle being circled by alligators in a leaky boat with vultures flying overhead!"

Or do we believe;
... your lives are now hidden with Christ in God' Col 3:3.
And that because we have sought to move in obedience to God, (regardless of how bizarre that may have seemed!), we remain in the centre of his will for our lives and therefore (although it's unseen by us), everything is being effortlessly co-ordinated by God to take us forward on the next stage of the journey.

At the moment we are playing 'Fear/Faith Bagatelle', where you career wildly from one to the other! (Some of you may know this game!)

I guess we're in good company. I've been thinking about John the Baptist recently. Here was a man - who had an angelically promised miraculous birth [Lk 1:13ff]; who was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth {Lk 1:15b]; who began his ministry of testifying to the living Christ while yet unborn [Lk 1:40]; of whom Jesus himself testified that no-one greater had ever been born [Mt 11:11]; who baptised Jesus and heard the voice of the Father and the visible manifestation of the Spirit testify to the divinity of Jesus [Mk 1:9ff]; this experience being a direct fulfilment of a prophetic word the Father had spoken directly to John [Jn 1:29ff]; AND YET JOHN subsequently doubted whether Jesus really was the Christ ! [Mt 11:2ff]
Almost unbelievable isn't it? But as Jesus gently reminded John,
“Blessed is the man who doesn't fall away on account of me”
Matthew 11:6

The Lord bless and reward those of you who continue to pray for us. Please continue to pray and may the Lord answer your prayers and keep us loving/trusting/worshipping/serving Him.

Stuff and Nonsense

We have had a somewhat hectic time with the house as the garage/study conversion was being completed. Also the whole downstairs, stairs and landing have been re-carpeted. Our Landlord has also indicated his intention to have the bathroom re-decorated - we don't know whether to be happy or sad! On the one hand it is great to have these things done, but as you will know, it is also a lot of hassle!

Our Landlord has also given us the use of a 3 piece suite as ours was well past its best. This was a real answer to prayer, as it was a bit embarrassing to see (how shall I put this?) 'circumferentially-challenged' people disappear into the seats when they sat down! All you could see was a head and two feet sticking out!

Family Matters

All of us are well and thriving. The boys continue to grow exponentially! Caleb will start school in September - we can hardly believe it!

Ben and Joshua are doing well and enjoying school. Ben has discovered the game of cricket, and is delighted that he can hit the ball further than anyone else in his class!

Joshua has started to go to a gymnastics club after-school; and managed to get his first award a few weeks ago. So it is now proudly sewn onto his gym 'T' shirt.!

Caleb shocked and stunned us by teaching himself to ride a bike! None of the boys could ride a bike, as we've never had bikes for them. But Sharon was at the Playschool helping out one day and noticed this child flying around the playground on a bike without stabilisers, and then realised it was Caleb! He'd been playing on the bikes at Playschool with stabilisers, and then one day just jumped on an unstabilised bike and away he went!

Ben was most upset about this, as, because he's the eldest, he thinks he should be the first to do everything!

Church Busy-ness

We continue to be able to serve our church in many different ways, and are grateful to God for the experience he is giving us.

I have been working with our pastor, taking two guys through a Christian Basics Course. Please pray for Paul and Mike that they might have a genuine life-changing encounter with the living Christ. So far it has been great to see them start to perceive some aspects of the truth as the Holy Spirit brings revelation to them.

The Sunday Childrens' Work continues and I remain absolutely convinced that we are doing the right thing. Please pray that these foundational truths would be built into the childrens' lives as a firm basis for their life and relationship with God.

The After-School Club continues and we are having some great times. The children really enjoy it, which is a testimony to God not us, as we are not really doing anything clever.

The School Assemblies continue. God is using Sharon and our pastor in these and amazing us with some of the changes of attitude amongst the staff, and some of the ways in which they affirm the message that Sharon and Duncan bring.

The adult Experiencing God course is continuing. God is powerfully working in individuals' lives and rooting the 'theory' in practical 'experiences' of him at work.

We had a Prayer-Mission last week and for the whole week there was prayer from 10 'til 3 every day, and an evening prayer-walk around the village each night. We managed to pray through the electoral roll 10 times. So every adult in Burton has been specifically prayed for by name at least 10 times! We look forward with anticipation to see what God will do in answer to our prayers - it's fuel in the tank!

Channel Hoping

As stated at the start we have no clear indication from God as to the how, where and when of our future in France.

We have pursued any connection/links that have presented themselves - but as yet there has been no indication that any of the possibilities are God's will. Please pray that our desire for some 'concrete' direction would not lead us into disobedience to the plan of God. I have been impressed recently of the consequences of disobedience to God. When you think of Sarai, Abraham's wife, and of her encouraging Abraham to sleep with Hagar in order to bring about a 'human' fulfilment of the promise of God (Genesis 16). And what is the result of that disobedience? 4,000 years of hatred, violence and murder between Arabs and Jews. Disobedience can have fearful and widespread consequences (see Jeremiah 17:5-8). We are slowly learning that 'good ideas' are not always God's ideas!

The Lord preserve us all from disobedience to his will AND his ways AND his timing.

Future Plans

This is easy! We don't have any! Certainly not long-term, as we have shared. As far as the summer goes, at the moment we hope to be doing a Holiday Club in the village in the first week of the summer holidays. There is also the possibility that Stephen may go again to the church in Cosne-Sur-Loire on another building work trip; perhaps for a week at the end of July. Apart from that we've no plans for the summer holidays - we've no idea where we'll be, and we've no idea what we'll be doing!

At present our only plan is;
'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might'
Ecclesiastes 9:10
And we will continue in this until the Lord gives us a clear indication of whatever else he wants us to do.

At the moment he has not led us into paid employment and we continue to struggle with that at a personal level. It is almost a year since we left college, and the time has not been without difficulties. We have neither a defined role nor a job title ready to answer the question 'and what do you do?' Yet we have experienced the faithfulness of God in many ways. We know we have been called of God to be in Burton and serve him here, and as our time is almost completely filled with what we are doing with the church, it seems that it would be very difficult for either of us to work and continue to do what God has involved us in. Therefore we just have to trust him and try not to worry about the consequences of this. Please pray that we would continue to be able to cope with this on-going situation.

The Marches

March News - March 1999

“He suffered the things we should have suffered.
He took on himself the pain that should have been ours.
But we thought God was punishing him.
We thought God was wounding him and making him suffer.
But the servant was pierced because we had sinned.
He was crushed because we had done what was wrong.
He was punished to make us whole again.
His wounds have healed us”

Isaiah 53:4f (New Light Children's Bible)

I had it in mind to do an Easter meditation on these verses - but if you aren't moved and inspired by reading these words, no words of mine are going to move or inspire you.

This Easter, may we be brought to a new experience of the incomprehensible, unfathomable, truly glorious mystery of our salvation.

Can I first of all thank you all for praying for us over the past few months. We have experienced God at work in many ways, providing for our needs, using us in ministry, developing our skills and giving us new experience of different aspects of church work. Praise Him!

But most importantly of all, we have as a family been aware of the continuation of the adventure of our journey into God. Praise Him for His grace towards wombats like us!

Training - part deux

Having completed college and having got the 'bit of paper' any thoughts that our training has been completed have been rapidly dispelled!

God has involved us with an almost incredible range of people, some with an even more incredible range of problems! It's like God is saying, “You want to learn about pastoring / leading, okay - let's see how you get on with this!” (see below for details!)

1 - Discipleship
Sharon and I are now taking a discipleship group every Tuesday evening. We have four people (two couples) who have recently become Christians. We are going through a 'Christian basics' course initially and then we will take them through 'Experiencing God'.

This involvement has again highlighted to us the vast difference between making 'Christians' and making 'disciples'. I heard a testimony recently from a guy who had worked with 'hippies' in the 70's. He said that they saw them become Christians within weeks, but that it took ten years to disciple them.

Making disciples is what we're commanded to do, “teaching them to obey everything” Mt 28:20. That's much, much harder than simply evangelising. It's slow going, long-term and costly in terms of effort and resources. It's a real test of both our commitment and theirs. But it's God's only model for evangelism. Being involved in God's purposes will always involve costly obedience.

2 - Children's Work
The Christian After-School Club attracts around 32 children. We continue to have encouraging feedback from parents, teachers and children alike.

Recently we looked at what 'icthus' the sign of the fish meant, and the Greek words it represents. Suddenly 3 teachers appeared from nowhere and began talking to the children, and asking about what they were doing - we then found out that Ancient Greece is the current topic! This led to a request from a teacher for any other Greek stuff we might have. So we have been able to loan a Greek-English interlinear Bible to the school, and some other stuff - so praise the Lord for these positive contacts!

3 - More Children's Work
The Sunday Treasure Seekers work continues. Having lost 2 of my team it is a struggle sometimes and we are now having to change how often we actually can do it. This is disappointing because the children really enjoy it and seem to be really taking on-board a lot of what we are trying to teach them.

4 - Evangelism
We are continuing to seek to build relationships with the 'not-yet-Christians' God brings us into contact with. Last week something interesting happened. I had felt led to pray one morning for my old colleagues at the Scottish Office. Later that week I received a 'phone call from one of them! This was the first contact in 3½ years since I left! We were able to exchange E-Mail addresses etc. and he also had contact details of another guy. So contact is resumed and both of them have even visited my evangelistic website!

5 - Youthwork
God has also brought some young people into our lives for us to mentor. This is an incredible opportunity to have an impact on people at the point where they set the direction and priorities for their adult life.

We have been seeking God recently, in partnership with the church leadership in Burton, to see if God had any specific word for us with regard to the future and France. After some time of prayer and fasting together, we are clear that at the moment we should do nothing other than continue to watch and pray with regard to the future. We did feel God's confirmation that this is the right thing for us to be doing, and so we will continue to serve the church in Burton and be trained in the process, and continue to await God's revelation as to the future in France.

Over this time, God has confirmed that our involvement in France will probably not be as the 'Pastor and His Wife' of a church - but probably in some supportive role. It was interesting to realise that God also spoke clearly (and not just to us) about us working in partnership with the church in this country, to help the UK Christians to encourage brothers and sisters in France, rather than being 'sent off'' on our own.

We are not sure how this will pan out. But this is clearly what God has said. We would welcome you sharing with us anything God may have spoken to you about us and our situation, that we might weigh and test it and continue to complete 'God's picture'.


Our children continue to stretch us in all ways imaginable - both physically and spiritually! They are a delight to us, and we thank God for them and the ways in which He teaches us so much just by being their parents!

Benjamin has seen one of his close friends give his life to the Lord - at his parent's baptism! Jacob has been coming to Treasure Seekers and the After School Club since his parents became Christians on our last Alpha Course.

Joshua keeps us all entertained- his constant cheerfulness is a witness in itself, and although he drives us to distraction at times, his teacher thinks he's great - and the feeling is mutual! We did draw the line at taking 'Miss' on holiday with us! (see later).

Caleb continues to astound us with his vocabulary and assortment of funny faces - he is growing up fast, and we can't believe we will soon have his pre-school home visit from the teacher he will have in September!

Prayer Items

  • That as God continues our training programme, we would be quick learners. That we would receive the grace we need to become the people God can use.

  • That all the things God has involved us in - discipleship, teaching, pastoral care, evangelism - would be undertaken with the Holy Spirit's power, and that our 'busy-ness' would not distract us from our first priority - loving God for Himself.

  • That we would be given discernment and wisdom. (lots!)

  • That God would prepare us for the place he wants us to go to in France and that he would prepare that place and people to receive us.

  • For continued outreach of our local church into the village of Burton - through prayer evangelism, relational evangelism, serving the community.

  • For the schools work - further invitations to speak to / work with children, teachers, parents.

  • That we would have co-workers for the Sunday Treasure Seekers ministry, and for enthusiasm and inspiration.

  • For God's continued provision in our somewhat bizarre circumstances!.

And Now, The End is Near ...

Praise the Lord! We go on a 3 day holiday (25-28/2). Someone has kindly paid for us to go to a hotel in Portsmouth. The children are really excited because it's got a swimming pool!

We are going to Kilsyth (4-11/4) and are looking forward to seeing family and friends and also meeting the new pastor and his family.

The March's