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|
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.