When we first believed that we should move to France, almost ten years ago, the state of Christianity in France was very gloomy. The fact that France was dubbed the “missionary graveyard” is not random. The lack of responsiveness to the Gospel and the discouragement of those attempting to make an impact was a harsh reality. It is still a difficult region in which to work, but in the last few years there have been signs of greater vitality in the church. During the last ten years the number of Christians has risen to 0.8 percent of the population . This is still a very small percent of the population, but it is rising and the church is becoming a more significant force in French society.
There is a huge need for the Gospel but there is evidence of God at work, impacting the culture. We want to join a movement that God is blessing, while, at the same time, helping a church where there are relatively few indigenous Christians. Isaiah 60:1 is significant: “Arise,shine, your light has come, for the glory of The Lord has risen upon you.” Despite the thick darkness, God’s light is coming and the light is dawning. “…the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Of course these verses focus on Jesus, the Messiah, coming into the world, hundreds of years after his arrival is prophesied in Isaiah. However, we also believe that God is highlighting this verse in our lives, reminding us that our going to France is a response to His call, and the timing is His timing.
God drew Sian’s attention to these verses recently when considering the image of light on France, that was to be part of the symbol Rayon France, that Martyn has designed. Interestingly, she has just seen the same verse at the top of a French website where it is suggested that a Christian revival in France is just round the corner:
We want to be a beam of light that helps point people to Jesus. Similarly God is calling many other Christians to be rays of light that will help draw the French to respond to Jesus. Together we will reflect the glory of Jesus, and at the appropriate time we will offer God’s precious message of salvation. The power source is Jesus, and the message is
His word:Â “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. ” Psalm 119: 105.
Ultimately it is God who communicates the truth about his son, Jesus, coming to this earth to reveal the love of God to mankind . Even more significantly , God wants everyone to understand how Jesus willingly died to receive the punishment that we deserve, paving the way for us to receive the gift of everlasting life. Martyn and I, are simply messengers of this great truth.