The ongoing ‘yellow vest’* movement has been revealing significant discontent among the French population since it started in November 2018. Please pray for all those seeking to find appropriate solutions and especially for Christians as they take opportunities to explain and exemplify "the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18). *(The ‘yellow vests’ movement is a populist political movement for economic justice.)
Anti-Semitism across France is on the rise. Many Jewish people live in fear of attack and are becoming increasingly marginalised. Last year, following a series of high-profile attacks on Jewish people, a Jewish deputy mayor of one of France’s largest cities stated that ‘the future of the Jewish people in France is hopeless’. However, at Christian Witness to Israel we believe that there is hope for Jewish people in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish community. Following a large outreach last year, contacts within Paris’ Jewish community were established and our missionary based in Paris has seen some of his Jewish contacts profess faith in Jesus and join believing congregations. Please pray for Jewish people living in Paris as our missionary shares the hope of Jesus with them.
Riverboat Captain Klaas Kattouw (Dutch), marvelled at a ship sailing by as a 13-year-old boy. Compared to other vessels on the Rhine, the Alexander Von Engelberg looked stunning."I said to myself then, that I want to be Captain of this ship." Today, it is known as the Andante, which is also the first vessel to be used by OM Riverboats for a new ministry with a floating escape room on European waterways. When Captain Klaas first heard about the Riverboats ministry, his heart was immediately moved and he committed himself to serve on it. When he realised the vessel to be used was the same one he remembered fondly from his childhood he was shocked! Please pray for Captain Klaas and the Riverboat community as they go from port to port to share the gospel and mobilise churches in the Netherlands, Germany and France.
There are approximately 500,000 Jewish people in France and over half of that number live in Paris. Against the backdrop of multiple terrorist attacks and rising anti-Semitism, many Jewish people are leaving France and those who remain are becoming increasingly marginalised. Our missionary based in Paris shares the love of Messiah with French Jewish people on the streets of Paris and by visiting them in their homes and hospitals for bible studies. Please pray that through our witness many French Jewish people will come to know the hope that can only be found in Jesus for themselves.
Europe’s expansive river network is a unique way to travel through the heart of the continent and is a channel that OM workers want to use to share the Good News to Europe’s 700 million inhabitants. Riverboat project, launching at the end of 2017, aims to mobilise the church to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least-reached from a mobile platform. Pray for the team that will host events for two weeks in each place, stopping at key ports in the Netherlands, France and Germany, and who will use their practical ministry skills to share the gospel. Pray for God to connect them with the right people and provide all our staffing needs.
Although less than 1% of the population of France are considered to be evangelical believers this figure is growing and a new evangelical church is founded every 10 days. Yet there may be as many as 250 towns of over 10,000 people that has no evangelical church. Pray that God will be pleased to bless the vision of the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF) whose goal is to have one church for every 10,000 of the population.
In reaction to the recent terror attacks, the people of France do their best to move on with a sense of normality. However, there remains a distinct sense of fear amongst French communities. As people worry, they look for someone to blame, so there is concern that the Muslim community will be pointed at and labelled extreme Islamists. Pray for workers in French communities to use this opportunity to communicate the gospel. Pray that spirits will not be paralysed with fear, but that they will be set free. Pray for wisdom for authorities as they have to make tough decisions regarding refugees and safety for citizens.
In the experience of Etienne Lhermenault, President of the National Council of French Evangelicals, the commitment and effort to encourage church planting in France is stronger today than it has ever been. The total number of evangelicals has multiplied by a factor of nine over the past 60 years but they still represent only 0.73% of the French population. Pray for the success of what is a fresh and coordinated effort to plant new congregations.
Millions of people from Northern and Western Africa have migrated to France in recent years. Some progressively migrate as communities (men coming first, women following), and the African town may replicate itself on French soil. In other cases, individuals migrate and find themselves in mixed communities of African migrants. For them, tribal identity may be replaced by a strengthened allegiance to Islam. Pray for all of these to have loving witnesses of "Isa al Masih"- Jesus the Messiah, and inclusive fellowships which can become new families to them.
Can God change the spiritual atmosphere of a town? “Yes,” said Andre*, who works in France with women who are victims of human trafficking, “when His people, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, intercede for the town authorities using Romans 8:26, as the church here has been doing.” At a meeting on human trafficking in the city where Andre works, thirty local government leaders discussed the need to consider faith issues when following up with African women bound by occult vows taken in their homeland. Andre had the opportunity to explain the importance of the Bible and prayer in breaking such vows. A police officer went further, adding these women are so full of fear that the police feel powerless to help them. “This encouraged us in intercession and action for these women, remembering that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.” Andre said. “Praise God,” Andre exclaimed, “who responds to the prayers of His people!” * Name changed
In 1994, Aline fled the genocide in Rwanda with her mother and came to France. About two years ago Aline realised that she needed God and, seeing a sign in the street, she decided to take the risk of walking through the front doors of Nantes Baptist Church. Aline was touched by the love and acceptance that she experienced from the church members, despite there being good reasons for potentially keeping her at arms’ length. In due course Aline gave her life to Christ. The Evangelical church in France is one tenth the size of that in the UK and there are more occult practitioners than pastors. Thank God for the faithful and patient work of church planters in France and pray that their ministry would continue to bear fruit.
Although it once had a strong Protestant witness, France is now known for its philosophical rejection of Biblical revelation and, as a result, is a thoroughly secularised and materialistic country. Spiritual work in France is very slow and there has been no real breakthrough. It would be fair to say that France is the largest western nation that has not felt the power of the gospel. You might even say it is the largest ‘unreached’ western nation, since there are large tracts of land and many cities with no evangelical witness. The spiritual ground is hard and unyielding and will only respond to patient evangelism and prayer.
France is a proud nation, giving the impression of self-sufficiency. Raised on philosophical and secular thought, many French people seem to have an inherent suspicion of the gospel. Despite this, there has been a steady, though slow, growth in the Church and new churches have been planted which now have a good number of young people as members.
Population: 66,991,000 (2017)
Official languages: French
GDP (PPP) per capita: $43,652 (2017 est.)
Life expectancy: 81 years
Religions: 51% Catholic, 37% Agnostic or Atheist, 4% Muslim, 3% Protestant, 1% Buddhist, 1% Jewish, 3% other religions