Two weeks in France: Summary

Marlin Weaver wrote the following reflections on his recent trip to France. He and Justin returned to the U.S. late Thursday night!


Justin Gerhart and I shared two weeks of ministry time in France.  This was a great way for me to bring my home town of Lititz and my adopted town of St Albain together!  Pray that God will use this mission trip not only to encourage those we helped, but to grow us spiritually as well.


I am both joyful and burdened after spending two weeks in France, the country that was home to my family for twenty-four years.  The purpose for this trip was helping the Chateau de St Albain with manual labor  — and our 16 member team accomplished many jobs!  Our two largest projects were the replacement of a part of the Chateau roof including the rafters and roof timbers, and the displacement of the main driveway that leads to the back part of the property.  We also accomplished lots of other small projects.

Chateau de St. Albain, FRANCE
Chateau de St. Albain, FRANCE

 But my greatest joy was to reconnect with friends whom I haven’t seen for about two years.  Being able to pick up where we left off the last time was lots of fun.  We spent hours talking about times spent together and I was able on several occasions to talk with them about the Lord. I would so love to see these friends come to the place where they put their trust in the One who offers salvation, but they’re not there yet…please pray with me for them.


Spending time with the “new” Chateau team was beneficial as well.  I was able to encourage them as they spend some time in discouraging places.  I am beginning to see how I might be able to use my experience to give the new team some “on the ground” help.  Perhaps help them to balance the many responsibilities with the privilege of serving God in such a beautiful place.


Please pray for Christians in France.  Justin and I and the group from  Ohio were able to worship with the Believers at the small Grace Church in Macon a few days before we left.  I also had the privilege of a meal  with the Pastor and his wife, which gave us hours to talk, and later had a long conversation with one of the elders. There are very few Christians in France and the culture does not encourage them in their spiritual walk, so they greatly appreciate your prayers for them.

Chateau Roof (Justin 2nd from left in back row; Marlin 3rd from left in back row)


Here’s a quick update from Marlin Weaver about his and Justin Gerhart’s work in France…

Friday May 30thToday the driveway at the Chateau got a new stone finish. I went and picked up a load of gravel, and I’m planning to get another one on Monday for finishing details and things that we disturbed.


Saturday, May 31st: We spent the day on the roof – it’s moving along! We’ve completed about 2/3 of it.

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Sunday, June 1st: Worship with Grace Church of Macon, France! Praise God for this small group of faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. Please pray for them as they share God’s love in a godless culture.

Please continue to pray for these two men and the group from Ohio as they finish their work at the Chateau and return to the U.S. later this week!


Here are some brief updates from Marlin and Justin…

Friday, May 23: We looked over the jobs here at the Chateau, went to the supply place, talked to Joel (note: he is Chateau board president) for awhile, did a couple of small repair jobs, and spent some time saying “hi” to everyone on staff here at the Chateau.
Saturday, May 24: Lots got done today.  We took all the tiles off the roof and now we need to clean them up.  I went to the store 2 times today after spending some time measuring everything. I ordered wood and picked up some supplies we’ll need for the roof.

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Sunday, May 25: I picked the team up in Lyon this AM and got back to the Chateau about 1pm.  They have super team members with lots of experience.  I’m afraid they won’t get to enjoy French bread because we’re eating breakfast at 6:30 am and the bakery doesn’t open until 7 — too bad about the French bread and pastries!

Marlin (top left) and Justin (bottom right)
Marlin (top left) and Justin (bottom right)

Memorial Day Monday, May 26: We got the beams for the roof today, and we ordered a mini pele (small backhoe) which was supposed to be delivered this afternoon, but never showed up…will need to check on that tomorrow am. We carried a bunch of tile up to the roof and took the Chateau van to the shop  (it will not start because the starter is shot), so the garage ordered a starter and I’ll need to take it back on Wednesday for the install…In the mean time, we push it to get it started!

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Tuesday May 27: We’ll be working on the roof and hope to get it to the place where we’re able to begin to lay tiles.


As you can tell, there is a lot going on through Grace Church! As of today, we have people from Grace on four different missions trips in Tennessee, France, Scotland, and the Philippines! We are so excited to keep you up to date on all the happenings around the world due to the work these teams are doing.

 22 students from Lititz Christian’s 8th grade class, along with 4 chaperones, are currently on their way to Wears Valley Ranch in Tennessee!

Please continue to pray for this team as they do ministry on the ranch. Continue to check back for more updates about their trip!

(Haven’t heard about this trip? Click HERE.)


Marlin Weaver and Justin Gerhart just pulled out of Grace Church’s parking lot for their missions trip to France. If you missed the first two blogs about their trip, check them out here and here!

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Please continue to pray for both of these men as they are on their trip! Here are a few specific prayer requests:

  • we will fit in and work well with the Ohio team
  • we will be a testimony to the unsaved French friends we will stay with for several days when the Chateau hosts a large group
  • we will be an encouragement to the French believers

YOUR French Connection: Part 2 of 2

Two people from Grace Church are heading to France from May 21 to June 5 to serve at the Chateau de St. Albain! Grace Church has had ongoing involvement in the Chateau’s ministry for several decades (see yesterday’s post), and we are excited for the opportunity to be a part of this particular project.

Marlin Weaver, who serves as Grace Church’s Facilities Director has some unique strengths which led to his being asked to participate in this trip:

A team of men from East Side GBC in Blacklick, Ohio decided to go France to help the Chateau ministry by providing the manpower and supplies for a much-needed roof repair. I was delighted when they asked me to go along with them to help to purchase supplies, explain the system used for tile roofs, and translate. And since an important part of any mission trip is discipleship, I am grateful that Justin Gerhart is willing to accompany me to help with the work, encourage the Macon church, and learn about ministry opportunities.

In addition, Marlin has invited a young man from Grace Church, Justin Gerhart, to join him on this journey. Justin has never been overseas before, so his purposes and experience will look quite different.

Please be praying for both of these men as they prepare for their trip! Here are a few specific prayer requests:

  • we will fit in and work well with the Ohio team
  • we will be a testimony to the unsaved French friends we will stay with for several days when the Chateau hosts a large group
  • we will be an encouragement to the French believers

Marlin-Justin edit

YOUR French Connection: Part 1 of 2

The April edition of the Encompass World Partners newsletter celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Chateau de St. Albain, a 14th century French castle serving as a staple of European evangelism and discipleship for our worldwide fellowship of churches. Grace Church has had a special relationship with the Chateau, which serves as a community and retreat center, for several decades. For nearly 25 years, Marlin & Sue Weaver (who both serve on Grace Church staff) were responsible for the Chateau ministry, along with their 3 children. After the Weaver’s transitioned back to the United States, Grace Church continued to support another couple (Jay & Debbie Hocking) at the Chateau as they were charged with transitioning the ministry to European leadership. Many from Grace Church have been involved in supporting the Chateau through prayer, financial support, and through short-term trips to work on special projects. Additionally, the Chateau has served as a refuge for Grace Church teams returning from Africa through France!

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Dave Guiles, Executive Director of Encompass, explains in the article how what was learned in the early years of ministry at the Chateau has impacted how ministry is done in Europe today. He says, “Relational bridges are a key element in our quest to disciple the nations, and are usually the first step toward launching evangelistic Bible studies.” Earlier, he described relational bridges as “neutral space where believers and non-believers can build relationships and explore spiritual themes in a non-threatening environment”. The Chateau has served as one of these spaces for 50 years, and many other European efforts are using the same model. And in this way, I believe that the Chateau has something to teach us, right here, right now!

I (Pastor Doug here) believe this is a model we should be considering in our own lives and communities, here in America. In our recent Care 2 Share series at Grace Church we were encouraged and exhorted to be active in the commission that God has given us – to reach the nations with the good news of Jesus Christ. But our culture (which seems to be heading East, following Europe’s lead), is one where we need to earn the right, through relationships, to share our stories with others! Preaching on a box in a park is no longer effective. Threatening people or utilizing scare-tactics won’t be the most effective means for presenting Truth.  Rather, building these relational bridges will lead to the opportunity to share our stories with people who have not yet met Jesus, personally.

So, what relational bridges are you building today? How are you effectively exploring spiritual themes in these spaces? How can you be more passionate and effective about this process?

Tangible Step 1: Re-watch the Care 2 Share sermon series HERE

Tangible Step 2: Watch this video about France and pray, as encouraged, for the work of the gospel there.

Tangible Step 3: Come back tomorrow to learn how you can support two people from Grace Church making an investment in the Chateau ministry in just a few weeks!