Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why France?

I have written previously about the reason that we are moving to France. Quite simply, we believe that the Lord is calling us there and as His followers, we will go where he leads us. Our time in France last summer began to open our eyes to some of the reasons why the Lord would have us invest our lives there. The greatest reason is the incredible need for people to hear the gospel.

While the Cathedral dominates the landscape of Strasbourg, the spiritual reality is much different. Jesus does not dominate the lives of the people. The country is nominally Roman Catholic, but the Catholic church is continuing to lose influence in the culture and people are adopting an increasingly secular mindset. While 61% identify themselves as Christian, over thirty percent declare themselves to be non-religious.

If we look deeper and ask how many believe that salvation is found through Christ alone, that personal faith and regeneration by the Spirit is essential, that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and that commitment to sharing the gospel is important (Operation World's definition of evangelical) the number drops to 1%. There are 4-5 times that number of Muslims in France. There is a higher percentage of evangelicals in Egypt than in France! The sad reality is that most of the people living in France have never truly encountered the Gospel. According to many sources, France is one of the least evangelized countries in the world.
One Morning at the Gates of the Louvre
I think that this may be rooted in the history of France. As a country situated between Rome and Germany, France was a key battleground between the Protestants and Catholics. For much of European history, the church and state were intertwined. Emperors courted the church and church leaders courted the emperors. In for centuries France was entangled in series of religious wars that were fed by the egos of both the political and ecclesiastical leadership. Finally in the French Revolution the French people said, "Enough!" and cast down both the political and religious systems creating the first "modern secular state." Democracy was tied to freedom from the authority of the (Roman Catholic) church. Two hundred years later the result is a country that feels that Christianity is a mere relic of an unsuccessful past. At the same time, the occult has increasingly stepped into the spiritual vacuum. It is estimated that ten million French people see occult practitioners spending billions of dollars in the process.
As we move to France in a few months, we are seeking to minister to the English-speaking community in Strasbourg, but our hearts yearn to see the French people discover the beauty of Christ and his amazing love for them. The obstacles are many, but through prayer and obedience to the Holy Spirit we believe that many will discover the love of the Savior.

Operation World provides insights into how to pray for France. Here are some highlights:
  • Pray that the legacy of religious/political violence would change from skepticism of Christianity to a renewed interest in the gospel.
  • Pray against the widespread involvement in the occult. There are more people earning a living in occult practices than there are registered doctors in France!
  • Pray about the declining influence of the Catholic church. In 2005 only 150 men were training for the priesthood. Pray that the Holy Spirit would breathe life into the church.
  • Pray for unity among evangelical believers. There has been remarkable progress in this area over the last decade or so, but more needs to be accomplished. 
  • Islam is now the second largest religion in France. Pray for effective outreach to the Muslim community as well as peaceful assimilation into French society.
  • Pray for youth ministry in France. The youth are a nation's future, and many young people are unemployed and France has the highest teen suicide rate in the world.


  1. A candle is way more noticeable in a dark place. Shine on!

  2. Pastor, I love this blog. Now I know exactly what to add to my prayer list.