Bonjour! The 2016 ICC Pastors and Families Retreat is just beginning at Les Courmettes, situated at 850 meters up a narrow, winding (read: terrifying) mountain road, just outside Tourrettes-sur-Loup, France. Official retreat programming begins in the morning, but pastors and their families have been gathering since Saturday morning, enjoying the hiking trails and the incredible panoramic view of the French coast. Even on a rainy day it is breathtaking.
We have a wonderful team of volunteers from Denton Bible Church in Denton, TX. They are here to teach the children and youth programs during the retreat, as well as to serve by preparing meals and helping with logistical details.
This morning we held a special joint worship service here on the grounds at Courmettes. In addition to the retreat guests and volunteers, we were joined by the two ICC congregations in the area, from Nice and St. Paul. (The sister congregations of International Baptist Church, Cote d'Azur are pastored by James Arnold.)
Despite the overcast skies and a cold, steady drizzle, we gathered in an enclosed tent to worship together. The Guess family, from Denton, offered their beautiful a cappella renditions of several hymns as a prelude to the worship service.
The corporate worship was led by Ray Franks, a member of the IBC team, plus Joel, Katie, and Shirley. An offering was taken to benefit ICC's efforts to help refugee families during the holidays, and we experienced the sacrament of Communion together. Our retreat speaker, Dr. Mark Young, President of Denver Seminary, preached from Psalm 96, a most apt passage for the week. I will let the text speak for itself:
Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
—Psalm 96, NIV
Praise the Lord for his faithfulness in bringing us all together today, believers from all over the world, both young and old, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, united not only by a common language, but a common Savior. Soli Deo Gloria: To God alone be the glory.
Katie Pollard is the Administrator and Communications Director for Lake Baldwin Church in Orlando, Florida. She became involved in International Christian Community through LBC's senior pastor, Mike Tilley, who serves on the board of ICC. Katie and her husband, Joel, have participated in the 2015 and 2016 ICC retreats as worship leaders, and part of Katie's mission is to use her communication skills and experience to help tell the story of the ICC organization and its affiliate churches.