This past week in France has flown by! I can’t believe I’m on a plane right now heading to our last country already. We arrived in France last Friday and met up with our new co-leader, Paul, and surprise team member, Ryan, who went on the trip last year. They have been such a great addition to the team! They are very servant-hearted and have provided plenty of humorous entertainment for us all week long. From the airport, we traveled up to our home for a week— a beautiful campsite a little ways up a mountain in Saint Paul, France.( St. Paul is an ancient city about fifteen minutes north of Nice.) We had a view of some mountains behind us at the campsite that was absolutely gorgeous!
Our missionary contacts for this country were members of International Baptist Church, which is a church planted by members of Denton Bible Church in Texas. The church in France is now run by missionary families in the St. Paul and Nice area. International Baptist has two locations, one in St. Paul and one in Nice, so we were able to serve in both places throughout the week. Our first day of ministry began on Saturday morning with a half-day of prayer for the nations. Members of the church have this event four times a year, so it was really special to get to participate in this one with them. It was also really cool to get to contribute stories about the places we had been and get to pray for specific people in each place that we have met on our journey so far. (By the way, this prayer took place at a beautiful house on a hill overlooking the ancient St. Paul village from across a valley!) After prayer, since the majority of people at the prayer were American, we had sort of a belated July 4th cookout celebration which was a sweet little taste of home. The next day we were able to go to church services at each location and teach Sunday school for the younger kids. That was really fun!
Throughout the rest of the week, we did a variety of things. In Nice, the first thing we did was hand out tracks. I was a little nervous about this one at first, but each of us went with a French-speaking missionary who showed us the ropes so it ended up being really interesting. Even when we didn’t have much conversation, it was great to be able to silently pray for people as we walked. We also gave out sandwiches to the homeless one day, and prayed for them after giving them a sandwich if they gave us permission to (which they all did). This was my favorite ministry project! All of the people we were able to give to were so grateful. A couple of them were even believers which was awesome to be able to fellowship with them like that. It’s amazing how the love and kindness of Jesus can cross over any language or cultural barrier! We also had a beach party one night at the Mediterranean Sea with the members of both churches. A few of us were able to share with the group about the work we’ve been able to do this summer and what the Lord has taught us through it. That was a really cool thing to do-sharing about Jesus by the Mediterranean!
The other major project we worked on last week was helping the St. Paul church set up for their Vacation Bible School which is going on this week. Every year this church goes way over the top in transforming their church to fit whatever the VBS theme is. Having VBS is one of the biggest outreach opportunities for the church, and the kids are always so amazed when they walk in and see the decorations. This year’s theme is like an ancient medieval setting, so we helped make arches for the front stage, a dragon hanging from the ceiling made out of chicken wire, a tower, and lots of banners, shields, and other random medieval-looking things. This was a really fun project and great to have time to talk to the missionaries there too. I’m really excited to see pictures of the kids enjoying the week! Please be in prayer for them, that they will come to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and that their families will be drawn to the Lord as well.
I have learned SO much this past week. First of all, I admire the missionaries in France a ton for their commitment to serve the Lord there. Although it seems luxurious from the world’s view, it is so empty spiritually. The people in France, for the most part, are unresponsive and uninterested in hearing about the gospel. We learned that only about 3% of the people their claim to be Christian, and that France has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. These people have all the materialistic things they could ever want, so they don’t even realize that the only thing they will ever truly need in life is a relationship with Jesus. It’s awesome that God gives these missionaries the strength and determination to keep pursuing these lost hearts even when their own efforts seem ineffective at times. That is what true faith in the Lord looks like. Please keep these missionaries in your prayers!
God has also used our team Bible studies this week to really teach me a lot. We started in the book of James at the beginning of the week with Paul leading us. It’s been one of those weeks where every day the study could relate to my life and to situations I was currently facing. If you’ve ever read James, you know it’s a very blunt book that will almost certainly step on your toes and challenge you a lot, but it is so rich in truth! I’m praying the Lord will continue to teach me a lot through this book and through Paul’s teaching (which is awesome by the way).
I think overall this has been an internal learning week for me. The Lord has shown me areas of my life where I’m going about things the right way, but also areas that need to change. He’s really worked on me during this week, and the whole trip really, about how stubborn I am to follow His will sometimes. I think a lot of times I know what He wants me to do, but because of fear I say no. Or I’ll pretend God really isn’t telling me what He is telling me (which is a tactic from the enemy, that’s exactly what Adam and Eve did in the garden-questioned whether God really said what He did). The Lord has allowed me to realize how foolish it is to disobey Him. I’m never going to grow closer to Him if I don’t follow Him, and I’m robbing myself of the joy He promises to all who follow Him. So, I would definitely appreciate your prayers for this area of my life—that I would have no fear of anything/anyone of this world, but instead be filled with the boldness and confidence of Christ as I follow Him wherever He leads. Growing closer to the Lord is almost never comfortable, but it is most certainly ALWAYS worth it.
Please also put the missionaries in France on your prayer lists too. There really is a spiritual darkness there that tries to discourage and cause dissention. Our team and other teams experienced some of this temptation and tension, but thankfully the Lord let us see these as opportunities to depend on Him even more. It was amazing to me how much harder it was in France to stay focused on the Lord and to love the people around me. It amazes me even more that these wonderful missionary families have surrendered their lives to serving in France, facing these spiritual battles and struggles all the time. Of course God graciously provides them with what they need to make it through. I just know it’s definitely not always easy to endure what they do, so please join me in praying for these awesome brothers and sisters in Christ.
As always, I am so thankful to you for keeping up with me on this adventure. (I have now landed in New York for a flight layover headed to Nicaragua, which means I have officially made a complete circle around the world!) I appreciate your prayers SO much, and have realized even more over the past week how much I desperately need them. Thank you to all of my financial supporters too. I am blown away that I have actually been able to do this over this summer. It’s so surreal and has been a huge, life-changing experience for me. I am so excited for our last stop in Nicaragua, and am definitely pumped to get back and share more stories in detail of how the Lord is working.
Until then, I appreciate every prayer you pray for the people we meet, my team, and for me personally. The power of prayer is so real, and I can tell I am being prayed for. I love you alland am incredibly thankful for your love and investment in my life. See you in two weeks!