Meet Bless church members Tim & Jane Rocke. They responded to God’s call to relocate to France in 2005, leaving their corporate jobs on the outskirts of London. They moved to rural Normandy to set up and run a B&B and language school. Their journey over the years has been one of trust as they have faithfully walked the path God set before them in France. Have a read of this interview:
Why did you make the move from the UK to France and how have your lives changed since?
Our move was first prompted by a call Tim received at a conference called Detling in England during a seminar on church planting in Normandy. The call was to help set up a new church in Lisieux, but right from the first moment that we arrived in France the Lord spoke to us about continuing in business. The Lord has since moved us into setting up a language teaching business and supporting Bless church in Livarot, as well as the local Catholic community. The greatest change for us has been in realising how small we had made God when we were back in the UK. In some respects our lives were neatly boxed and we had fitted God into those boxes. In moving out of those boxes not only has our understanding of God enlarged, but we have also never felt as alive as we do now. Cosy warm boxes were sending us to sleep and the chilly winds of Normandy have woken us up and got rid of some of the cobwebs.
What have some of the challenges been?
Holding on to God’s promises through thick and thin and refusing to let go. God has given us two hands – one seems to be for holding on to His promises and refusing to let go, and the other seems to be for holding things lightly. The challenge has been having to do both at the same time. 2010 was really tough for us and nothing seemed to be working, and in the end we had no choice but to put our house on the market. We never gave up on God’s promise that He would establish us in this land but it seemed we needed to let go of how we thought He would do that. Eighteen months later in a wonderful faith-building way He stepped in and we were able to take the house back off the market. Since then He has progressively rebuilt and restored what we have been working on.
How does your faith affect the way you run your business?
Prayer is key to all that we do. We pray with those that work alongside us and for those God sends to us. Fundamentally, too, we believe the desires in our hearts, including those for business, have been placed there and nurtured by the Lord. We believe the Lord gave us the idea to start our language teaching business in 2008 and we then subsequently found that because we were already a B&B we were able to reposition ourselves as a small independent language school. Despite the profound and prolonged economic crisis in France He has kept us – and is keeping us – going. He has given us a strong desire to open up our home, which we do through our businesses (Alliance Anglaise for adults, The Language Hotel for children, and Les Tourneurs for our B&B guests), and as we have opened it up we have felt His encouragement to go on pushing in to what He has for us. We aim to share our home and our lives with those The Lord brings here and we then trust Him with what He chooses to do with that.
How has being involved in the church community at Bethanie impacted your calling?
In the Bethanie community we have found a church family which loves us and continues to encourage us to be the people God has made us to be. In particular we have felt empowered to move more fully into the calling that God has put on our lives to develop our entrepreneurial spirits and to impact the local community.
What’s next for you and your family?
We have felt challenged to stretch out our tents (literally! Isaiah 54:2) and The Lord is providing us with the opportunity to buy a property near Villedômer in the Touraine, which has the potential for a campsite around which we plan to build an English-speaking holiday village. We see the project not only as a business venture but also as a further vehicle for Bless’ outreach, and for whatever else the Lord has planned for us in France. The Lord continues to surprise us with His plans for us – we found out from Villedômer’s mayor that the property is on the St Jacques de Compostello pilgrimage route from Holland to France and that she, the mayor, saw our project as a perfect way to encourage pilgrims to break their journey at Villedômer. The mayor has already been very supportive of our plans and has even offered to create a working party from the council to help with the administrative process! We were encouraged recently by a visiting speaker to ‘dig our well where the land is uncontested’ and the council’s reaction to our plans helps us to feel that we are digging in the right place.
What is one important lesson you have learned through your journey so far?
That God is amazing! That he can do more than you can possibly imagine and that He really does set you free!! What we have also come to understand more and more is that we don’t need to see the whole map, we just need the courage and the faith for the next step. We are about to launch out on a new stage of our journey (creating the English-speaking holiday village), but when we look back we can see that the first concrete step towards that was the decision to open up our house as a B&B back in 2006. It seemed like the right step but we didn’t know quite where it would take us. At the time someone said to us ‘don’t despise small things’ and that has stayed with us.
What can we pray for?
For greater trust as we move deeper into God’s purpose for our lives in this country. We would also ask for prayers that He would release the resources needed, both in terms of finances and people to enable the project to be realised in all its fullness.