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.