There is a huge need to join in what we believe will become a revival in France, but it is very important that Jesus is calling us to this work. It is not our whim, but it is His calling. Not everyone is called to move away from their local church, home and friends, but we believe that we have been invited by God to relocate to France. It all started in 2004, when we went to Paris with our son, Tom, and Sianâ€™s brother, Vaughan.
Sian, rather unusually, knelt on the floor in the middle of one of the most famous museums of the world: the Louvre. She felt prompted to pray for France. One of the attendants rushed up to her in horror, explaining that it was illegal to pray in a public building! When we returned to San Diego, both of us felt that we should prayerfully consider relocating to France. In Sianâ€™s journal, immediately after returning from France in August 2004, she wrote â€œLord, I feel a burden for France. Are we to live and work there and be vessels to reach the French? Lord, if we are, please open doors miraculously, including solving the issue of income. Please give us Bible verses to guide us as well as othersâ€™ insights. May you dominate our thoughts and influence us totally.â€ All of Sianâ€™s words in her journal continued to ask God to take the lead, in softening the hearts of the French, as well as creating an opportunity for our family to go to France.
Our trip to France was more than eight years ago, in 2005. We recognized then the importance of God calling us to France. We believed that mission had to be totally directed by God. It was not merely a family decision. In the same way that God told Abraham to leave Ur, we would only respond to God’s calling At that time I wrote about Hebrews 5 in my journal. This chapter refers to when Aaron was called to be High Priest and Jesus was appointed the ultimate High Priest by God the Father. I concluded, â€œWe need to be called rather than send ourselves and we need to be chosen for a job/role rather than pushing ourselves forward.â€ We prayed earnestly, and we trusted that Jesus would call us specifically by opening wide His door that would lead us to France. We were expectant but we had to be patient!
Five years later Sian was at Maranatha Christian Schools, teaching Bible. This was a temporary position for a few months. Just as this was about to end, Sian was invited to teach French. This was an extraordinary invitation as Sianâ€™s French had remained dormant for over twenty years. It was definitely an invitation from The Lord to have an opportunity to focus on France. To start with Sian was determined to turn down the job offer, as she felt inadequate. Martyn pushed her to reconsider, telling her that this was Godâ€™s way of getting them ready to go to France. The morning after she had been offered the French job, Sian left home to go to the high school feeling confused. As soon as she arrived she asked a colleague to pray for her regarding her unusual job offer. This lady also confirmed what Martyn had just told her: this was an opportunity to prepare to be missionaries in French speaking countries.
As Sian walked into school to teach Bible, she knew that, by faith, she would accept the job! That day, Sian was grading many studentsâ€™ papers. Answers to the final exam that she had set included the challenge to live by faith. Sian had taught the students about Hudson Taylorâ€™s passion to share the Gospel in China. Even while preparing to leave England, to go to that distant country, he lived by faith, in every respect. He received no money except for that which God prompted others to give him, but God gave him strength and success in very difficult conditions. Student after student wrote about how Hudson Taylor lived by faith, not by fear. Sian graded many essays that day, and each of these encouraged her to live what she had taught,and to respond to Godâ€™s call by faith!
It was essential that Sian go to France that summer to improve her French before the challenges of teaching the following term. She soon discovered that a French eighteen year old was coming to Maranatha high school the following term. There has never been a French student at the school before or since, but we are sure God arranged the timing of his visit perfectly.
Within a few weeks, Maranatha Chapel asked us if we would have Mathias in our home for the school year. It was also arranged that Sian would go to stay with Mathiasâ€™s family for two weeks, near Paris. Within three weeks, all of these arrangements were made and Sian prepared material to teach Bible and English to children at the church at Combs La Ville, near Paris. This is where Mathiasâ€™s father is the pastor and where Ray Bentleyâ€™s daughter Annie, husband Shawn and their three children, went to serve recently!
Mathias returned to California with Sian. He attended the school and he was also Sianâ€™s French assistant in two of her classes. It was clear that God was further establishing our connection with France. It was like a dream, witnessing how Jesus opened up miraculous doors and gave Sian the ability to teach the Bible in French at Mathias’s church. God also provided Mathias to help her teach French classes at the high school!
The next question was how we were to get to France. We had already done a lot of Christian ministry and we did not doubt the fact that God was calling us to France. The big question was how were we to finance our stay there? Being British, we struggle to ask anyone for money. It is a culturally sensitive subject. To avoid doing this Sian tried to get a teaching job in France. Sian became anxious about the possibility of getting one of the jobs, as we would have had to move to France in a matter of weeks to arrive in time for the beginning of the school year.
Jesus provided a very reassuring answer when Sian asked him for wisdom and help. He showed Sian a picture of a wide, gold bracelet. Sian wondered whether it was from Ancient Israel, but Jesus lead her to open Martyn’s chronological BIble, which includes much archeological detail. Sian turned straight to a page with historical information describing how the ancient Egyptians used jewelry, including bracelets as currency. This was in connection to the episode in Exodus 11 when the Israelites, in response to Godâ€™s command, asked the Egyptians to give them their jewelry: their wealth. Ultimately, much of this wealth would be given to create the holy tabernacle, inhabited by God. Jesus reassured us that our needs would be supplied so that we could leave for France with or without a job.
No job materialized but we are going to France and God will provide. Shepherdâ€™s Staff mission organization agreed that our goals are God driven and Maranatha Chapel also wants to help us go. In Isaiah 46 verse 10, Godâ€™s sovereignty is illustrated: â€œEverything that I want, I do it. From there, where the sun rises, I send out a bird of prey. Itâ€™s the man who will accomplish my plans. I call him from a foreign land. As soon as it is said it is done!â€ Going to France, is responding to Godâ€™s call. He will accomplish his goals. So long as we listen and obey we will do his will!
In a devotional book written by Gordon and Gail MacDonald, â€œA Heart for the Masterâ€, we are encouraged to live for a cause bigger than our own security. Instead of rising each morning to â€œfeed our appetites , accumulate a bit more wealth, and to seek out some novel pleasureâ€, we are encouraged to risk our lives,and social acceptance to give ourselves to purposes much bigger than ourselves. They write that those who chose this path, â€ died with the satisfaction that they had pleased their God, that others were connected to God because of their efforts, that a new generation was better equipped to face life because of what they had done.â€(page 130)â€ Matthew 10:14 reminds that if one tries to hold onto life we will loose it, but as we let go of our own plans and agendas, trusting God, we will find true life. This involves leaving behind loved ones, but the eternal rewards are worth it!
Please help us go! As you, also, choose to lay aside your own agendas, in exchange for Godâ€™s, may you be blessed!