Riots in France concern missionaries

By November 8, 2005

France (MNN) — More than a week of violence in France has missionaries on alert. While the violence has only claimed one life so far, nearly 1,500 vehicles have been burned as minority-Muslim youth ravage the streets.

Greater Europe Mission is working in France. GEM’s France field director Charles Cross says they have several families close to the violence. “Today I spoke with a missionary family whose daughter happens to be visiting and she was heading out to a Bible study and was actually surrounded by a gang of Muslim youth. They really didn’t do anything. It was probably more for the purpose of intimidating her and scaring her.”

Reports indicate the growing violence is forcing France to confront long-simmering anger in its suburbs, where many Africans and their French-born children live. They’re struggling with high unemployment, racial discrimination and despair. It’s fertile ground for Muslim extremists offering frustrated youths a way out.

Cross says this doesn’t deter them from their goal of sharing the Gospel with those living in France. “Perhaps something like this brings that desire to a greater urgency, with a hope that, maybe this is something that would cause people to question, or to want to seek truth, or to look in a different direction other than what they’ve always relied on.”

While the violence hasn’t stopped their ministry, Cross is asking Christians to pray. “Pray for the Lord to bring peace and at the same time for the Lord to open up people’s hearts. And, I would pray that the church here can step to the plate and speak into the situation. I would pray that we would take the courage to do exactly that.”

France is a difficult mission field as many hearts are closed to the Gospel. Pray that God would soften those hearts and lead many to Himself.

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