The City of Lights

In 2013 Justin and I both went on life changing mission trips.  You can read about those trips HERE.  We also both ended up pretty sick.  It took a few months to figure out I was harboring a parasite and Justin lost his appendix.  We spent 2014 on the sidelines, recuperating, and praying about what God would have for us next.

Interestingly, Justin and I had both had a conversation when I was sick where he said something like "Maybe we just aren't cut out for this.  Maybe we are done with mission trips."  That very same day I was at the doctor and as he was writing prescriptions he said "I just want to say... I hope that this does not deter you from future mission trips.  I feel like God would have me say that to you.  Take care of yourself now but start praying about where God would have you go."

Over the summer, most of my staff headed off to various locations around the world (India, Kenya, Zambia, Honduras) to spread the gospel and minister to those in need.  As I prayed, I felt a peace about the answer being for me to stay but I also felt a restlessness and the desire to obey the command to "go" stirring in me again.

God has at this time in my life called me to adult ministry. He has created in me a passion to see both men, women, and ultimately their families grow in deep life changing relationships with Christ. For all to experience the life transformation and freedom found in Him.  For real, authentic communities to exist to support each other in our walks.   As  I prayed through the list of trips and opportunities in front of me, I kept coming back to the same trip.. France.  

Yep. That's me in France.  Age 15.  In a huge Alabama jacket.  French club.. such an awesome trip. 
The more I found out about the trip and the work there, the more I felt like God was being clear in his purposing me for the trip.  I asked Justin to pray about it and once I got the clearance from him I asked others in my life to pray.  One of the logistics that had to be worked out was the kiddos.  The trip is 10 days and with Justin's job I knew he would need help.  I asked Gamma and Big Poppa if they could come and here is where I can see the hand of God clearly in orchestrating the trip.   She called one night and said "we are trying to work out the dates but we aren't sure that's when we can come."  To make a long story short, different dates worked better but she would see what she could do.  That night as I lay awake I was talking to God and I said "Ok. God. Here's the deal.  Justin says he has to have someone to come help.  I'm leaving it up to you. If you want me to go on this trip, I need you to make it happen. I need for them to be able to come and help. If not, then I will know that this is not it, and I will pray about what's next."  That morning on the way to work I get a text. "We got it worked out. We can do it.  We can come!".   Couldn't be more clear then right? 

I gave my deposit, filled out my application, and told my family over Christmas... long before anything that's been in the news happened.  

The family from Texas that we support is part of GEM.  I can't wait to meet them! Greater Europe Mission and I love this from a post on their site.  Its says so well the answer to "why France. why now?" 

Recent terrorist attacks in Paris, leading to a hostage crisis and ultimately the death of 17 people is truly disturbing news. The situation is complex, with many different contributing factors and angles – political, economic, religious, cultural, and social. How should believers from across the world, some of whom live in France, others of whom are far removed from Paris, respond? 

“If there’s a silver lining, perhaps it is this,” writes one GEM worker in Paris: “that the Body of Christ worldwide would awaken to the profound spiritual needs of Europe and be catalyzed to a far deeper engagement in intercessory prayer for a great spiritual awakening here. We are not the first missionaries who, in trying to explain our call to Paris, are often met with eye-rolling….And even our most ardent supporters often don’t fully realize the mind-numbing depth of the spiritual darkness with which we are surrounded here. What happened [with the terrorist attacks] was just a quick peek behind the spiritual veil. There’ a war going on. And it’s not East vs. West, or Religion vs. Secularism, or Islam vs. Christianity. It’s Light vs. Darkness…

God wants Paris, and He wants Europe. And He is moving and working here in incredible, almost indescribable ways….May these unfortunate attacks arouse the Church to look beyond the surface of glimmering monuments and gilded castles to see a continent of souls…. Now, more than ever, we need your deep, daily prayer support….God is doing great things in the City of Lights, for He IS Light, and He wants Paris.”

Here are some facts about France.

  • Population: 65 million
  • France - number one tourist destination for a country
  • Paris - most visited city in the world
  • 70 million visitors annually
  • Evangelical Christians:  0.8%
  • Churches: Currently 1 for every 32,000 people in France
Last summer I had the privilege of meeting and working with the pastor of a church plant in Chantilly, Michael Jouve while he was our church being equipped.  I am excited to see what God is doing there and join hands with our French brothers and sisters.. Here's a little info about their church.

For at least 3 decades, several Evangelical groups and leaders have interceded for the beautiful town of Chantilly in the northern suburbs of Paris, but for various reasons it has been hard to reach.  The community of 11,000 inhabitants has NO French-speaking Protestant Evangelical church.  Chantilly is a well-known and influential city in France, politically and culturally. It is the center of a group of 11 towns numbering almost 47,000 residents with only one small French Protestant church.  What a great need for boldly witnessing believers and for new churches to be planted here!

Living in the area for several years, we have a heart to see friends and neighbors reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Over the past couple of years, the Lord has brought a few other missionaries to Chantilly plus believers from 3 churches in the region.  God brought these believers together to start meeting for prayer and encouragement in 2011 and to pray specifically for this community.  In June 2012, we hosted a first outreach event to invite friends to come hear more about God’s love for them.

For the past year, our core group has been meeting weekly for discipleship, prayer and encouragement, and we continue hosting the monthly outreaches.  These friendly, relaxed events have averaged around 25-40 people each month, with a maximum at a special Christmas outreach of 65 people.  Each time we have shared a clear presentation of the Gospel. 

We are growing together as a community for Christ, challenging each other in our witness and multiplying disciples as Christ called us to do.  The goal is to build a shared vision for being a body of believers who intentionally reach out and make disciples, teaching those disciples to also intentionally share the Gospel and train another generation to be Christ followers so that we can have a greater impact on the Chantilly area by faithfully following Jesus’ mandate to go and make disciples of all peoples.   

More have come to join our core group recently and want to grow deeper in their spiritual journey.  A few weeks back some visitors came to our core group as we were working on preparing and practicing our personal testimonies.  These two seekers got to hear 7 different stories of people’s lives transformed by coming to faith in Jesus Christ!  

It is our earnest prayer to see God’s Kingdom come here:  Chantilly and the neighboring communities filled with Christian believers who are multiplying disciples and new churches that are planting more churches to reach the northern suburbs of the Paris area and beyond!

We leave in 6 weeks and as we prepare.. will you pray for us, the people of Europe and particularly France, our brothers and sisters on the ground there loving and sharing the Gospel, and our ministry partners.  And that 3 years of high school French would just supernaturally return?? 

Matthew 5:14-16The Message (MSG)

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Dans le Christ, l'Amour,
The Riley's 

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