One of the other features from The Mission of God Study Bible is titled “The Church Unleashed.” It is a series of essays written by missionary personnel from around the globe. The stories they tell are compelling are several levels and today I wanted to share one from Western Europe. It was recorded by some friends who served there for several years with the International Mission Board. I hope it will encourage you to pray for the work being done by full-time missionary personnel around the world.
– submitted by Terry and Sheila Wilbanks –
So are western Europeans still interested in the message of the gospel? In France the majority of people claim to be culturally Catholic, and on university campuses the students see no reason to even believe there is such a thing as God. And yet this is where I find myself, working with French university students.
I know that the message of the gospel doesn’t change, but the way that you convey that message does. It is true in whatever culture or country you live. The challenge in France is getting into natural conversations with non- Christians where one can share the truth about Christ. One way we see this working is through the idea of 3rd places and intentionality. The concept goes like this: 1st place is your home, 2nd place is your work or university, and the 3rd place is where people from different backgrounds get together on a regular basis. If you can’t find a 3rd place, then you create one. It is what we did with Café Anglais.
It is a place where university students come to practice English. There is no bait and switch. We talk about English with a lesson plan from a secular website, ending with a friendly debate relating to life issues. During the lesson, the students do not hear a gospel presentation, but they are seeing it in my life as we share life. But my witness can’t stop there. I have to be intentional, to verbally share. Most French students have not seen a true follower of Christ living out their belief, so I want to be that.
After Café Anglais, I go for a coffee or bite to eat with the students, praying as I go, looking for the Lord to open up an opportunity. Before long we are talking about their spiritual beliefs and how that is working for them. One student asks if I think all religions are the same. I smile and share what I believe. Being intentional is seen in asking one of the students to play pool. We play 3 games in 15 minutes and then only 2 in the next hour because I start asking him about his spiritual beliefs. He quickly identifies that he was raised as an atheist and has no one he can turn to for questions about God. I smile and continue the conversation, playing pool, but more interested in the conversation.
Being intentional means going on campus with a picture survey in order to hear what students are thinking on spiritual things, all the time looking and believing that God is already working on the campus. I run into a girl who happens to be searching for something greater than herself. In the conversation I ask her if she knows who Jesus is. She replies that she doesn’t really know much about Jesus. Then she asks if I could tell her. I smile, knowing western Europeans are still interested in the message of the Gospel.