Monday, April 21, 2008

France is needy

I was visiting the hospital a few days ago, and a church member asked about my recent mission trip. Another person asked, "Where did you go on a mission trip?" and when he heard it was to the suburbs of Paris, France, he said, "I thought when you said you went on a mission trip that you went somewhere needy."I understood what he meant. Paris is a beautiful city. Everybody wants to go there to tour. And yes, we saw the Eiffel Tower at night, flashing on the hour with sparkling lights. We saw the beautiful whitewashed cathedral of Montmarte on the hillside overlooking the city. We climbed on top of the Arch de Triomphe and took pictures in all directions. We saw the glitter and gold of the Palace of Versailles.So I understand why the man thought we did not go to a place that is needy.But let me tell you what else I saw. I saw a new Muslim mosque under construction, and I saw two large apartment buildings that are full of Muslims. A Baptist pastor said that people are afraid to go there and share the gospel. I went on the streets handing out gospel tracts with Baptists in the town of Colombes, France, and I saw a Muslim man who said he had been to the Baptist church and liked their worship, and I saw another Muslim man who insisted that Christians worshiped three gods and did not want to listen to their explanation of the Trinity. I saw many people turn away our witness and I heard a missionary explain to me that ten years ago 15% of the French were practicing Catholics, but today it is 8 to 9%, and she thinks in another decade it will be zero. And only 4% are Protestant, with just 1% evangelical Protestant.I took four Christian policemen with me and visited the police station in Colombes. I saw policemen who had no nametags and who take off their uniforms and wear civilian clothes when they go home, for fear of reprisals against them because their are policemen. I saw one Baptist policeman who told our Christian policemen that he felt alone as a Christian, and desperately needed their encouragement to share his faith and live a faithful Christian life when he did not know any other policemen who profess faith in Christ.I saw a vibrant Baptist church in Colombes, France that is overflowing with children, mostly from African immigrant families, and the church has no room for them-- just a few tiny classrooms above their old sanctuary, a small building with sofas out back and two tiny modular classrooms-- yet they attract hundreds of children and youth and share Christ with them. After what I saw, I would say that France IS needy. Needy to hear the gospel.

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