An amazing gathering in Cantinergues. Wonderful things happen when someone responds to what the Lord wants. That response can have some incredible consequences. The result of their desire to share a week away in the hills with a diverse group of people, some of whom they had not yet met, was truly amazing!
Jenny and I flew in to Carcasonne as did other friends over that weekend. Others came by car to be together for seven days in the hills of Cantinergues.
A Dream Come True
The dream of a young couple from Belgium who have been living in France for the last five years became a reality. There were folk from Scotland, Ireland, England, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. Gert and Katia felt to invite different believers to holiday together in a remote village in the hills of southern France. What an incredible time it turned out to be and how wonderful to see Jesus building His Church in His own way.
God has Poured Out His Love
Fun, laughter, love, care and faith intermingled with grace and goodness! We loved the fact that fellowship had not been organized and yet there was an abundance of it. It was a delight to experience shared life over coffee, meals, walks, trips in the car to Carcasonne, Minerva and finally Azille for a wine tasting event with friends. It seemed so obvious after experiencing Church life this way that we are all so different yet deeply hold the same desires to honour Jesus. People were encouraged and blessed to experience fellowship together. The overflow of this time together continues after the event with emails and phone calls expressing their appreciation for the Lord’s goodness.
Joy and Laughter
Oh! What laughter can do for us! It is indeed like a medicine as Solomon said. It was, simply put, an amazing gathering in Cantinergues. The joy and laughter which echoed across the village was an indication of the enjoyment people experienced together whether in the open air impromptu concert or over breakfast. It was infectious. It was great to see people participating in different activities like the zip wire for the more adventurous, the river walk which took six or seven hours, archery, wine tasting and various walks. Gert who acted splendidly as our Tour Guide around Minerva told us about the Cathars – and other unpronounceable groups.
When Bishop Fulk, a key leader of the anti-Cathar persecutions, excoriated the Languedoc Knights for not pursuing the heretics more diligently, he received the reply, “We cannot. We have been reared in their midst. We have relatives among them and we see them living lives of perfection.”
What a challenge for us living in the 21st Century but definitely possible.
Heart Sharing Encouragement
It was the two men on the road to Emmaus who declared, “Did not our hearts burn within us…” How often a simple statement or a warm conversation stirred the heart and brought hope, encouragement and life. We discussed some interesting subjects including the Hebrew and Greek mindset and how it impacts God’s people in their thinking. We talked until late about the return of Jesus and where do we go when we die! New heavens and the new earth and many other related issues. The awesomeness of God’s initiatives in open and honest life-giving conversation peppered with encouragement and humour.
There were two important moments which were personally helpful and very encouraging. The first was a passing comment about not focussing our conversation on the problems we face but rather trusting each one to Jesus. It means we all need to be aware of lifting our conversations to become God-honouring in our time together with others. The second was a statement in John which reads, “The man who shares my life and whose life I share will prove to be fruitful.” I continue to ponder on these words.
One Table of Friends
Meal times were shared around long tables outside and the food was outstanding. Henry, Els and their team of volunteers were kind and nothing was too much trouble for them. We were very fortunate to have such amazing service. On the Thursday evening we had an impromptu evening concert outside until well after 11 pm. A combination of electric piano, flute and guitar provided the opportunity for singing. And we did, from gospel to classical. One person told me they felt Jesus enjoyed every minute of this and brought joy to his heart. What an enjoyable evening packed with joy, inspirational singing and instrumental playing. If we ever do this again please book your seat early!
Our days together in the hills of Cantinergues were memorable and as we made our way home one couldn’t help thinking that an indelible mark would be left on the hearts of many people in the months to come.
Here is a video of one of those precious songs we sang together at our impromptu concert which touched many hearts. It was a hymn sung in gatherings across Wales during the 1904 Welsh Revival. Here Is love, vast as the Ocean