The 18th-19th November sees the major annual gathering of evangelicals in France at an event called the Centre Evangélique. The theme for this year's gathering is ‘Living out the Gospel in a Connected Society’. Please pray for fruitful conversations and mutual encouragement and envisioning for the many hundreds of church leaders who will attend.
France has more international tourist arrivals (86.9 million) than any other country in the world. Pray for French churches as they welcome international visitors this summer. Pray also for Christian holiday centres in France as they welcome people in the peak months of July and August. Guests will be a mixture of Christians and not-yet believers.
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.
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.
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.
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