How Jesus uses our gifts and experience in France
To be impactful in France God uses all the experience that we have gained from church ministry and work in the UK and the US over many years. Before moving to France Sian had much experience in working with children of all ages as a teacher, organizing vacation Bible schools, leading evangelistic Christian clubs and events in schools and in homes and working with international students. Martyn has much experience in marketing, in technology and graphic design and creating attractive books and materials. We also had experience of leading Bible studies and meetings in churches, but the most useful experience has been community based evangelistic work and the skill to reach many people who are not yet believers.
Inviting French people to church is not usually the best way of helping a non-believer recognize the importance of Jesus. Most are not at all familiar with the Bible, we are probably the only Christians they know and the majority don’t believe in God. Getting to know families through English classes has been an important way of building trust and friendship. Children and adults are invited to events in our home where they have the opportunity to discover more about Christmas or Easter in a fun, relational way. At Christmas Sian wore a Sherlock Holmes costume to investigate who baby Jesus really is. This approach was more acceptable to children of other faiths and for those who are nonbelievers. The children and teens were encouraged to think about Jesus without feeling coerced. Children are also invited to age appropriate clubs to discover how a character in the Bible demonstrates an important value such as courage or love.
Many of our friends are Muslim and they are interested in discussing Christianity with us. Recently we had a debate with a Muslim friend and our pastor over dinner. When we were young in England we were often engaged in interesting discussions. Sadly, this seems less common now but we are happy that our Muslim friends appreciate this opportunity and we trust that Jesus will help them to put their trust in him.
We want to be a valuable part of our community. Saint Pierre du Perray is a small town about 25 miles south of Paris. It has not got much cultural life and it is to some extent a dormitory town. We organize many social events to get to know our students and our neighbors. These encourage life and friendship and they are well received. We have the opportunity to share our lives with our friends, including our faith. During the pandemic it was difficult to function normally so we used Martyn’s gifts to create postcards to deliver to our neighbors and we also created videos with a Christian message of hope. Both of these can reach thousands of people and, with or without a pandemic, we are continuing to reach our neighbors in this effective way.
The elderly in France are much more likely to believe in Jesus than younger generations. They were mostly brought up as Catholics and many are happy to find out about Jesus and his love for us. Regular visits to a care home and a geriatric hospital have resulted in many people trusting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The same technique of communicating the Gospel simply and creatively is used by Sian to engage with many French people who are nearing the end of their lives. This has been a great blessing. We created a Christian book featuring Bible passages about Jesus and prayers. These books have encouraged those who are capable of reading to grow in their faith. Thanks to Martyn’s graphic design skills they are attractive and easy to read.
Rayon France is the name for our ministry. In English a ray of light on France describes our effort to shine as Jesus’s ambassadors bringing light to a nation that has few Christians. Without the light of Jesus they are in spiritual darkness. Only Jesus can transform their lives. The word rayon in French is a ray of sunshine. Jesus has taught us so much, we are well equipped to help French people learn about Jesus using the gifts that he has given us and the experience that we have. As Jesus opens doors into people’s lives please pray that as rays of sunshine we would shine the light of Jesus into lives that would be eternally changed.