Pray for New Life Christian Assembly in Ariège
This week we are praying for L’Assemblée Chretienne Vie Nouvelle (Pastor Jean-Hubert Mazel) in Villeneveu-du-Latou – a village with 145 inhabitants (2013) in the Ariège Department (pop: 152,688 with only 9 churches). Ariège is in the Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrenees Region.
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The Ariège Department (capital: Foix), covers 1,888 square miles, has 332 villages, and is located in Southwest France, bordering Spain at its southern borders. Named after the Ariège River, its people are known as Ariègeois (Ariègeoise).
What marks Ariège is its spectacular scenery of the plains, Pyrenean foothills, and high country of the Pyrenée Mountains. In 2009, the Regional Natural Park of the Pyrenees was established and covers about 50% of the department, making this one of the least populated and unspoiled areas of France. Old farming techniques are still used with fewer insecticides. Hikers on its many hiking paths view its rich flora and fauna, numerous birds, and, butterflies. In winter, it’s a sports heaven. People flock to ski or to enjoy the breathtaking views at numerous winter sports resorts.
With 10.4% unemployment, the talc industry dominates, with additional industries in metallurgy, chemistry (paint), and aeronautics. Its once booming textile industry is in decline, largely due to Asian competition. Farming remains prevalent with its rich soils.
Historically, Ariège was among the first departments created after the French Revolution. Foix, an ancient mediaeval town with a mediaeval castle, Chateau de Foix, was attacked many times but never taken. In 1244, another castle in the region was destroyed and over 200 Cathar priests were burned at the stake for heresy. It took 300 years to be rebuilt. During the Hugenot Rebellion in the 1620s, many Catholic churches and abbeys were destroyed.
The 19th century, during the industrial revolution, Ariège rose up as an industrial center. The vast water supply for electricity, the forests for paper, and the iron ore for steel enabled this remote region to become a key player in supplying steel, textiles, and paper. In order to protect their paper industry, in 1829, peasants in Ariège dressed up like women to protest the French government’s regulations over use of the forests. This protest earned the name: War of the Maidens.
Perhaps its history, its survivalist mentality, charm, and beauty is why Airège has been captured by film makers and writers today.
Pastoral Couple: Jean-Hubert Mazel
History of the Church
Located in the quaint French village of Villeneveu-du-Latou, with only 145 inhabitants, in 1983, New Life Christian Assembly began. Under encouragement of a Regional Christian Team called, “Nehemiah”, Jean-Hubert Mazel and 2 other men began on two key principals: To love Jesus and to Serve the World. Highly valuing the meeting of saints in small cell groups and home groups, the church began with a family home group of 7 on a farm in Ariège.
In time, they grew to 30 who helped pioneer this ministry in the Ariege Department. These 30 moved several times around Ariege until 1997. In 1997, the opening of a New Life Regional Christian Center (its sending organization) gave permission for the group to fully establish themselves as a church. Now, with latest stats available, the church has grown to over 100 people, traveling from surrounding areas, and representing over 10 nationalities.
Deep convictions that undergird their mission are based upon these key verses:
Matthew 28: 18-20: “ ...therefore go and make disciples of all the nations…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Isaiah 58:12: “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
Matthew 22: 37-39: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
To work towards their mission and purpose, the church connects with other churches in Ariège to collectively further the gospel in their region. It is also in relationship with a large growing church in Toulouse called L’Assemblée Chrétienne de Toulouse (ACT) and with L’Espace Goshen, which has become a renewal, worship and prayer center in France.
Priorities of the Church
On one of its web pages, the church clearly states that their priorities are the children and the youth.
In addition, this handful of believers in a remote rural location, places no limits on reaching out to their local communities and to the world. They are big thinkers, trusting in God, and using resources around them to obtain their goal of making disciples of all nations, loving Jesus, and serving the world.
Loving Jesus and Discipleship with the Church:
Their Sunday service emphasizes praise and worship, intimacy with Christ, the word, and prayer ministry. Within their congregation, each week after the service, anyone who wants to eat lunch together will stay and bring their own meal to share. Care for the babies, and, instruction for ages through teen years are provided each Sunday. They are in the process of developing a special program for introducing even babies to the faith. Periodically throughout the year, they host a Breakfast Café to encourage relationship building, during which testimonies, special music, or other production is provided followed by a short sermon while people share coffee and croissants together.
During the week, members meet in home groups raised up in their geographical areas. This continues ongoing discipleship in the life of a Christian, with worship, word, and prayer, and fellowship.
Since 1996, another couple in the church began a series for married couples to strengthen their marriages. Another co-founding pastor began a special ministry for men, in the midst of the diminishing of the role of men in current society, that aims to help men find their masculine identity, both as husbands and fathers.
To Serve the World:
Some of their unique ministries include:
- Community Farm – Le Grenier Joseph – to grow produce for those in crisis or unemployment in their local communities.
- Welcome Center and Campgrounds: a retreat center to be opened year-round for vacationers, rest, healing, and conferences. The campgrounds of Garousse already exist, which allows for more persons to receive rest, teaching, and healing. Services planned include prayer for healing. Persons can arrange to come with all the services and support of the center, or, without. The renovation is currently underway in a long ranch building, sitting on a hill.
- Local Food Pantry, (Social Grocery Store): To service needs of those in their area, who exchange volunteering for food (a job without pay). This enables the recipients to be given value and worthwhile receiving assistance. Its currently open one day a week.
Priorities for Prayer:
- Their pastoral team and senior pastor, Jean-Hubert Mazel, their wives and families. That as they pour themselves out to their growing congregation, they receive refreshment and fresh words from the Holy Spirit that breathe continual life into their hearts, mind, and souls. That the fire of His Love never wanes. That as He fills them continually, they would be those rivers of living water everywhere they go and in whatever they find their hands to do. And, that they remember to pause to simply be with Him. For those who may have regular occupations to supply their families, that promotion, increase, and wisdom would abound. For peace and understanding to rest upon any of their children, whether young or as adults, and that their gifts would flow over to them.
- Their congregation: that their beauty, a representation of many nations and diverse cultures, becomes like a sweet fragrance throughout the region, bearing witness that God so loved the world. That their families flourish in these hard economic times, and, for creative strategies to create jobs in their own communities. May their focus and spirits be so overwhelmed by the Love of Jesus such that their intimacy with the Father grows deep, anchoring them firmly in the Grace, Mercy, Peace, and Love of the Holy Spirit. Impart vision to each one, so that their gifts are increased in anointing, and that they rise up in leadership within the many ministries of this oasis church. For unity and oneness in the Spirit abound, and that that unity of love would draw many to Christ who come for rest, conferences, and vacations. And, that their numbers may increase.
- Pray for the children and youth, that they be anchored in their faith and love from the Father, that they know Him intimately and remain ever seeking after Him. Stir up their gifts, callings, vocations and grant their parents wisdom in guiding and nurturing them. Give them dreams and visions that will minister to the entire congregation. May they be used to bring to new life with Jesus to those around them in their spheres of influence, schools and activities.
- Pray for all the Outreach Ministries: Smooth completion of the Welcome Center – Retreat Center, and, for leaders to emerge to serve in the areas required to keep these ministries running: such as, but not inclusive: the right persons of godly character to provide the administration of these ministries, from cleaning to overall management, for teams of hospitality to welcome the many guests to come, for teams of worship and ministry to minister to the personal spiritual needs or healing needs of those coming, and more. For abundance in financial provision to complete what needs to be completed on time. For clarity and purpose for each one. Expand their outreaches to reach their entire region for Christ, and to serve those from many nations who will be drawn to their camp and Welcome Center. Lastly, not only yearly good harvests for the Farm, but also for a harvest of new believers beyond their imagination and ability to count.