Thank you so much for praying for Laith's baptism. He's thrilled for me to share these photos with you, although can I remind you not to post the photos or the story anywhere online? It was a very special time for him, and so very encouraging and inspiring for all of us! We are so pleased to see all of the ways he is growing in maturity in Christ and vision as a young leader!
Simon turned 18 this week and has also been preparing for baptism, he will get baptized next week while we are at camp! Mahdi too is preparing for baptism, and while we haven't yet decided on a date, it's great to see these three young men mutually encouraging each other in their faith journey!
This week Laith, Simon and Mahdi also got their Baccalaureate results (High School Diploma) and graduated from High School! I've attached a photo of them in their gowns! They all did very well and Mahdi, who was elected Valedictorian, gave his speech in Italian (he obtained the French and Italian Baccalaureates simultaneously, both with outstanding grades - less than 5000 students obtain this "ESABAC" each year in France!) We are deeply encouraged and filled with hope as we launch these young men into their future studies and continue to walk alongside them in their leadership development.
At Parfums de Vie we have a very busy summer ahead and we have several prayer requests for the coming weeks:
Summer Youth Adventure Camp 11-25 July
Mission Trip Tunisia 28 July - 8th August
Getting Laith to The Netherlands
Getting Narjes to Scotland
Finding Accommodation for Simon in Nice
Our Ministry Center
Thanks to the generosity of some of our donors, for a number of years we have been in a position to purchase our ministry center, and while the owner does want to sell, we still haven't been able to agree on a price as his asking price is double the market value - which we are not willing to pay. The owner is in his eighties, not in good health and has significant debts. We have enlisted the help of an attorney to negotiate the sale, but so far, the owner hasn't responded to any of the letters the attorney has sent since March this year! Will you pray for a miraculous breakthrough for him to be willing to negotiate a better price that we would be willing to pay and for the sale to go through by the end of 2021? Vincent and I remain sure that this really is the right place for our ministry center......
Will you continue to pray with us for the ongoing support of the ministry? In addition to ongoing funding for our various programs with the children and youth, sponsoring four kids through University is obviously quite a commitment and we also continue to raise support towards the University Fund. We truly believe that investing in their further education is investing in the future of Parfums de Vie and the kingdom in France.
Luke Parker - Intern for 2021-2022
Finally, can I ask you to pray for Luke Parker. He is a young graduate from Spokane, Washington and plans to intern with us for a year starting September 2021. We really need the extra help and are very excited about having him join our team here for the coming school year. Specifically, he is working on his visa application which is of course essential for him to come. Will you pray that God opens the doors for the visa in a timely manner so that he can travel as planned to join us in early September?
Vincent and I are so encouraged by your love, friendship, prayers and generosity. The academic success AND the faith commitments of our four young University students truly inspires my prayers for the many younger children that we are working with at Parfums de Vie. Continue to pray with us that they too will not only succeed in their schooling but grow into young leaders with Christ centered values. May it be so!
with love & deep gratitude,
Nicole & Vincent
Can you believe it's already been a year since Vincent's mother, Simone, went to her eternal home, on April 29th 2020? A few weeks ago we were able to take a small group of our Parfums de Vie teens to spend the week with Vincent's Dad, Jacques. He needed some help on his property to chop down some trees that had become too tall and potentially dangerous should they fall. He also needed some company as he faced the first anniversary of Simone's passing. It was a very special time of discipleship and blessing, both with Vincent's dad and with our teens. For the first time, Vincent's Dad participated in our Bible study every evening after dinner. He didn't just listen, he engaged, sharing his point of view with the kids. Simone was always very vocal about her faith and Jacques always claimed not to be interested, not to believe, I think partly to try and keep her off his case! So, it was very lovely and encouraging to hear his heart and to see his openness to the scriptures and his willingness to participate in this important time with the kids. Please continue to pray for Jacques, he is still really missing Simone and struggling to adjust...
For the teens, it was also a very special time. Vincent's Dad lives in the heart of the Provençale countryside, surrounded by vineyards, lavender fields and olive groves and far removed from the cramped urban environment of our kids' homes, so as well as the hard work of chopping down trees and splitting timber (and homework of course) we also had time for riding bikes, cooking, baking, building fires and spending many long hours outdoors. So although our April Camp was officially cancelled (for the second year in a row!) because of Covid restrictions, we got to do an "unofficial" camp with Jacques!
This special time away from home in a different context is so important in the healing and transformation of our kids whose family backgrounds are extremely complicated, and where neglect and abuse are far more present than we'd care to admit. Our week at Jacques' home was during Ramadan, the Muslim month of prayer and fasting. Ramadan is always a very difficult time for all of the children and teens of Parfums de Vie, who are under great pressure from their families to observe the tradition of the strict fast from all food and liquid from sunrise until sunset. Muslim children are taught that Ramadan is compulsory for gaining points for Heaven and salvation, and they are encouraged (obliged) to participate from a very young age. Children as young as 8 years old share with us their fears that they will go to Hell if they eat or drink during the fast. (Even accidentally swallowing water when brushing your teeth or taking a shower is considered breaking the fast!) Every year at Parfums de Vie we have to sensitively help kids and teens navigate this complicated season with their families. Many of the kids and teens of Parfums de Vie believe that Jesus has already paid the price for them, they know that they cannot "earn" salvation, but this truth is incompatible with the values and priorities of their families. Many kids and teens also feel that they "need" to eat and drink to get through their long school days, participate in sports, exams and their normal life activities. It's important that they have a safe place to express their questions and concerns, and it requires a lot of wisdom, courage and faith to help kids through this. This year, one of the teens told her mother that she was a Christian, not a Muslim, and would therefore not be observing the fast.....as you can imagine, this news wasn't welcomed by the family, who have continued to put immense pressure on her. This pressure, which is expressed in a harsh manner, only causes kids to feel more distance with the traditions of their parents and to draw closer to the love and grace that they experience in Christ through Parfums de Vie.
We know that God is faithful and at work through all of it, but it's definitely one of the most challenging seasons for our ministry. It's painful to witness the hardships that the kids must endure with their families and we are always thankful and relieved when Ramadan comes to an end.
We truly appreciate your prayers, love and support.
with love & thankfulness,
Nicole, Vincent, Etienne and all of us at Parfums de Vie
Thank you so much for praying for our Winter Study Camp for our older teens. It was truly an amazing two weeks in the mountains with our fantastic group of teens. It actually moves me deeply to see how much these kids have really begun to embrace and live out the values and faith that we have sought to impart to them since they were young children, we are amazed and thankful!
17 year old Baptiste (pronounced "Ba-teest" in French!) came to Parfums de Vie through his friendship with Laith, they've spent the past three years together in the dorms at the CIV High School. Baptiste is a typical French kid: despite his "christian" name which is the French for "baptist" as in "John the Baptist", his parents are completely secular/atheist and until meeting Laith, Baptiste had literally never seen or held a Bible, much less heard anything about its teachings! The beauty in this story is that Baptiste, the French secular/atheist kid is finding faith in Jesus through his Muslim background friend Laith! Through their friendship and Laith's witness, Baptiste was open to learning more about the Bible with Parfums de Vie and he started coming home with Laith on the weekends to participate in Parfums de Vie.
At camp, we spent time in scripture everyday, reading and discussing the story of Joseph. Baptiste not only participated, but he engaged very seriously and expressed clearly his desire to know more and to go deeper. Baptiste had a lot of questions and told us that he wanted to continue reading scripture on his own after the camp, so we gave him a Bible of his own. We all wrote an encouraging note inside the Bible, but it's worth translating from French the words of 17 year old Laith: "This is the book that saved me! It brings me encouragement in hard times and I hope with all my heart that it will help you as much as it has helped me."
Will you pray with us for Baptiste? May he follow in Laith's footsteps...
While prayer and reading scripture have always been central to our activities and camps with the children and youth, it was interesting to note that our group of older teens are truly moving into a new season, towards adulting. When they were younger teens, for some years it would often feel like everyone was enduring the Bible Studies and serious conversations - especially in larger groups. Sometimes we would feel discouraged as so often there would be limited participation from the kids. Everyone was happy to play but would roll their eyes when it was time for the Bible Story. But now a few years older, these kids WANT to have serious adult conversations about life, faith, God, scripture, purpose and relationships and they're not afraid to express it! In fact, they are full of questions and it's very obvious that they are listening! It makes me very thankful that we persevered and it reminds me that the younger teens ARE listening even when they're rolling their eyes and it FEELS like they couldn't care less!
Parfums de Vie, and our camps in particular, are really meeting a significant need for these kids who are truly hungry for meaningful community and guidance as they seek to find purpose and direction for their lives. For most of our kids, neither home nor school is a safe place where their questions, struggles and fears can be broached. In fact home and school are a source of discouragement, pain and frustration. For many, home is a stressful (sometimes abusive) place where strict Islamic rules take precedence over relationships. On the other hand school is also unsafe: one of the recurring talking points was the prejudice and lack of expectation that they experience from several of their teachers at school. Laith, Simon and Mahdi have all been advised by their guidance counselors to apply for trade apprenticeships instead of University, despite the fact that many of their French classmates with lesser grades are being encouraged to pursue their College applications!
Despite the reality of our broken world where it would be easy for these kids to feel rejected by French society, it's truly exciting to see them wrestle through what it means to have a healthy sense of identity, learn to believe in themselves, break through the glass ceilings and pursue their dreams. It's also inspiring for the other kids who are just one or two years behind - to see that despite any prejudice or lack of expectation that society might have, these young men who are developing healthy values grounded in scripture are succeeding in school and are en route for University Education! Their academic commitment and their desire to grow in faith and healing provides such a healthy example for the other kids!
At our camp the Bible Study time is essential and formative, but it's the cooking and eating together, the experiencing of challenging and fun outdoor activities together, the late-night chats around the fire-pit that really help to create a unique, special and safe space for this deep, hopeful and healing conversation to happen, far away from the stresses of home and school, the distractions of technology and surrounded by the majestic beauty of nature. Camp is the perfect soil for discipleship.
I became a Christian in High School, and when I was at university I joined a student group where I was discipled by the couple who lead it, Marilyn & Karl (who remain dear friends to this day). They deliberately lived with their young family on campus because they wanted students to have safe space to drop by if they wanted or needed it, and I for one, took them up on that open invitation regularly. I loved showing up to their home, hanging out with their family, watching them parent their kids: they lived a life of faith that I hadn't known in my own home and I remember being so drawn into their loving home and being so full of questions about their lives of faith. They made a choice to live in this missional way: making their lives and their home available and accessible to others based on their belief that "more is caught than taught". In other words they knew that young people learn from Bible studies, but that they learn or "catch" more from experiencing real life and real faith in real community, and they had the courage to live that out with their young family on a noisy university campus when their peers were moving to the suburbs and making very different lifestyle choices.
When I see the hunger for purpose, relationship and community in our 17 and 18 year old students at Parfums de Vie - how they want to hang out with me and Vincent - help with cooking, gardening or whatever, ask questions, listen to what we have to say, and just be around, it reminds me so much of the relationship that I had with Marilyn and Karl when I was a student. I am so incredibly thankful for the choices that they made - to help me and others "catch" a life of purpose and faith.
Thinking back to my own discipleship journey which began in my teens fills me with so much hope for everything that God is accomplishing through Parfums de Vie and our efforts to provide opportunities for children and youth to "catch", experience and embody the Gospel. Our friends Marilyn and Karl had no idea how (or if) Vincent and I would take all that was taught and caught through their student group and run with it. What began at Glasgow University in 1993 eventually found its way to Grasse...and now beyond....Narjes is now at St Andrews' Uni in Scotland. Laith has been accepted to the best business school in The Netherlands. Mahdi hopes to be accepted to University in Italy. Simon and Baptiste hope to study in Nice. And there's many more following close behind! These remarkable teens are future leaders for the Kingdom, and NONE of this would even be possible without YOUR love and partnership with us! Thank you for making it possible for us to serve Christ and raise up the next generation of leaders through the ministry of Parfums de Vie.
with love & thankfulness,
Nicole & Vincent
How to Give?
***If you would like to support the ministry through regular or one-time giving, all the information is below. We continue to raise support towards our General Ministry Fund which covers the operative costs of running our Education & Literacy Center, Kids Clubs, Youth Groups and Camps. We also continue to raise support for our University Fund. Please don't hesitate to contact me for more information! Thank you so much!***
*****Please remember to specify if your gift is for: Parfums de Vie Cote d'Azur Project #70350 OR the DERIEUX family #40415'*****
Phone: 888-242-5930You can make donations over the phone if you prefer. Lynette in the office is amazing and super helpful. Stock donations are also possible, ask Lynette for more details
PO Box 438
Lewiston, ME 04243 - 0438
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgYou can email the Communitas office for any enquiries about setting up donations.
Seeing as all restaurants and cafés are still closed here in France and we have a 6pm curfew, today Vincent and I are chilling at home with our kids...and thankful we're still in love after all these years (we'll celebrate 22 years of marriage this summer!)
Hopefully restaurants, travel and date night will be back on the cards again soon! In the meantime, our beautiful hand-crafted fragrances will transport you to the romantic flower fields of the French Riviera, just spritz your perfume, close your eyes and allow your imagination to take your there!
MISSION UPDATE & HOW COVID IS OPENING PEOPLE'S HEARTS TO THE GOSPEL
I hope that you are doing well? We know that everyone everywhere is being impacted in different ways by this ongoing pandemic, and we continue to lift you and your family up in prayer! Here at Parfums de Vie, it has been a very full and busy month for us! We have made huge progress with the many renovations at the ministry center including fixing the floor, installing the toilets and a kitchen sink and building more shelves for storage. Due to all the interruptions and mess with the various building repairs, throughout the month of January we've had ALL the Homework Club, Kids Club and Youth Group activities in our home! As you know, we already use our home very significantly for the ministry on a daily basis, so this past month we've had a lot of extra chaos and organization as we've sought to continue all of our ministry activities, despite the fact that our ministry center was out of action!
The good news is that this week the ministry center is back in action, and while we're still working on some of the renovations, the space is accessible again!
As well as the challenge of welcoming so many children and parents into our home this past month, the start of this year has also been very challenging, because Vincent and I are literally surrounded by people who are struggling, lonely and in despair, and all looking to Vincent, to me and to Parfums de Vie for strength, friendship, community and guidance.
Here in France, while schools remain open and we have the freedom to continue our work with the children and youth, many "non-essential" businesses, including all restaurants, cafes and bars, have been closed for many months, and since January 1st we also have a 6pm - 6am curfew (before that it was 8pm for several months). In a Mediterranean culture where people work late, shops and businesses stay open late and where we eat late, it's very difficult for people to have to get home (and stay home) so early in the day.
The French have a long-established café culture, where in every French town, village and neighborhood, there are small, simple, individually owned café-bars where people congregate on a daily basis: in the morning before work, at lunchtime or after work. In a culture where the church hasn't been at the center of the community for centuries, this café culture is at the heart of French daily life and brings a natural connecting point for people where they find a sense of community and a source of encouragement. For Vincent and me, throughout the years that we have lived here, participating regularly in this café culture has been a key way that we have developed and invested in friendships with many French neighbors and business owners. So the prolonged closure of these truly "essential" community gathering spaces, coupled with the 6pm curfew and the massive increase in people working remotely, means that the majority of the people we know are truly suffering from increased loneliness and isolation.
Several months ago, in response to this isolation and despair, and despite strict covid measures, Vincent and I decided to be more purposeful in reaching out and inviting people into our home for meals. We began inviting people whom we've known more casually, but had never before invited to our home....
I've probably shared with you previously the extent to which the majority of French people, those who don't know us well, initially bring a negative judgement to their interactions with Vincent and me, simply based on our faith. The French are so suspicious of Christianity, and they don't have a category for people with a lifestyle centered around serving others (especially the "outcast" Muslim community), and so many French people hold us at a safe distance, based on their misgivings about the church. Of course, over time and through our courage, gentleness and faithful commitment, we (or rather, the Holy Spirit!) regularly pierce through people's preconceived ideas and even lead them to a truer understanding of the Gospel!
But the particular reality of the stigma attached to Christianity here in France is real and something that we have learned to navigate within relationships. However, this past year, due to covid lockdowns and the struggles and uncertainty that people are facing, we began to see a significant shift in many interactions with people that we have known casually for years. We began to notice how much more people really wanted to talk whenever we ran into them about town - getting groceries or whatever. And not just small talk about the weather, but real and meaningful conversation about how much they were struggling, how lonely they were, right there on the street corner! The superficial barriers were gone and the openness for something deeper was tangible. It feels like the very reasons that caused some people to exclude, reject or judge us (their negative opinions about our faith) were now the very same reasons that were causing them to open up - the knowledge that we are people of faith, trustworthy, willing to listen and able provide a safe space and perhaps even some hopeful answers....
So Vincent and I started inviting some of these people that we've only known quite superficially into the intimacy of our home for meals, conversation and community. And due to the curfew and the risk of hefty fines if stopped by police when going home, on the weekends we have even invited them to stay overnight in the lovely rooms of our beautiful rental Villa (which has remained vacant due to the lack of travel right now).
It has been a joy for Vincent and me to continue to deepen these relationships and to see this new opening for bringing the blessing of the love, life and light of Christ to so many people around us! It has been humbling to see how these simple invitations of hospitality have provided a beautiful and restorative gift to people.
Just this past weekend, an unmarried couple in their early fifties whom we have known for years, and who had previously told us on many occasions they didn't believe in marriage, asked Vincent if he would be willing to do their wedding ceremony.....I will share more in a future email...
The truth is that the vast majority of the people we know were without a sense of purpose or meaningful community before Covid, but it has been this prolonged lockdown situation which has separated people from family, friends and normal social activities that has really brought people face to face with the pain of emptiness and their lack of hope.
I am sure that what we're encountering here is not unique, these are indeed unprecedented times that we are facing worldwide, but here we definitely see God at work for HIS purposes in the midst of the struggles and pain that people are facing.
Will you pray that He will continue to use us and Parfums de Vie to bring Hope, Healing and New Life to many more people here in Grasse?
Thank you so much for partnering in this important work of the Gospel with us!
with love and thankfulness,
Nicole & Vincent (for everyone at Parfums de Vie)
How to Give?
*****Please remember to specify if your gift is for: Parfums de Vie Cote d'Azur Project #70350 OR the DERIEUX family #40415'*****
Phone: 888-242-5930You can make donations over the phone if you prefer. Lynette in the office is amazing and super helpful. Stock donations are also possible, ask Lynette for more details!
PO Box 438
Lewiston, ME 04243 - 0438
You can email the Communitas office for any enquiries about setting up donations.