France (MNN) — The evangelical Christian presence in France is less than one percent. With numbers so low, it's easy to see how French churches could use a boost every once in a while.
A group of sixteen people mainly from the Des Moines, Iowa area recently returned from a ten-day Greater Europe Mission trip to a suburb of Lille, France. The group split into two teams: one that helped the Croix Church with renovations (the building is 120 years old and had not been renovated at all for over 30), and one that concentrated on outreach.
"[Croix Church] is in a city of 21,000 people which has a Muslim population of up to 45 percent," says GEM's Karen Langstraat, who attended the trip. "It's the only Bible-believing church in the city; it has about 35 to 40 believers in the congregation."
It is no surprise that the teams had their hands full. They worked on a four-pronged ministry tactic while in France, comprised of church renovation, prayer walking, tract distribution, and a ministry to university students.
The prayer walks took the outreach team into the city–the only city in France with a majority Muslim population. The tract distribution was done through a French evangelist who has seen a significant amount of fruit in his ministry. Langstraat says tracts are an effective way to reach the French because it gives them the choice to take and read what they want. The team also was part of an open air music festival in which five people asked for Bibles.
The university student ministry was perhaps the most fruitful. The GEM team partnered with believing college students on a university campus to survey students. Many students were willing to take the surveys, and many wanted to keep talking afterward. One university student ran after the GEM team as they left to go home to the States, proclaiming, "You have no idea how much you encouraged us and how much God has used you here in Lille among these students."
Langstraat believes a real breakthrough took place during their trip. One missionary who has been in France for years said he had never seen such interest in talking about God in France. Pray that there would be all the necessary follow up with those who expressed interest through the various venues. Pray for the believers in Lille to stay strong and for God to continue working through university students and missionaries.
"France is really a melting pot of cultures from all over the world," says Langstraat. "So if you reach France, you reach the world."
If you'd like to join in the exciting ministry taking place in France, contact GEM today and join a team. Langstraat says they hope to take a team back next year.