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Early Days in France

Lucie Tinel and Emma Meyrueis in Calviac

Lucie Tinel and Emma Meyrueis in Calviac

About 100 years ago there lived in the small and charming hamlet of Calviac a family by the name of Tinel. The village lies some forty miles to the north-west of Nimes. It has a Mediterranean type climate and the surrounding landscape, with its rather wild hills, vines and fig trees, is quite Palestinian in character. The family were of Huguenot descent and their forebears had been subjected to persecution because of their faith. King Henry IV had secured toleration for Protestants by the Edict of Nantes in 1598, but Louis XIV revoked the edict in 1685 and Protestants were again subjected to persecution.

This gives us some insight into the background of the Tinel family, who were devoutly dedicated to their faith. One of its members, Samuel, possessed a deep interest in all things English and he cherished the hope that, one day, he would be able to visit England. When he eventually realised his cherished dream, he found accommodation in a London boarding house. There he made the acquaintance of a Christadelphian, W. H. Brooks of York, who took him under his wing. Sam was invited to read the Bible in English to improve his command of the language. Sam soon began to ask questions: he wrote home indicating that the ideas the family held about death and the future of the earth were erroneous. At first all this profoundly disturbed his mother and his sister, Lucie. But their minds were not closed and they gave careful consideration to the arguments advanced by Samuel. Gradually the mother and the sister were obliged to recognise that they were wrong and Sam was right.

Meantime, Sam left London and established a fruit and vegetable business in Birmingham market. He was baptised in 1906 and later that year married Nan Brierley, a member of the same church. In 1909 they travelled back to Calviac with another Christadelphian, Eusebia Firth, and Mme Tinel and her daughter, Lucie, were baptised. Eusebia wrote:

There are no baths in these primitive villages, so Brother Sam solved the problem by bringing up from the cellar one of the large vine-vats used for the treading of the grapes to make wine, quite in the ancient Biblical fashion...

It was in the vat, filled with warm water, that the mother and daughter were immersed into the saving name of the Lord Jesus. So it was that, not through any organised preaching, but as the result of a brother befriending a young foreigner, three were added to God's family. The exhortation surely is to neglect no opportunity for private witness.

Tom Barling
from The Bible Missionary, no. 159, January 2001

Information about France