France is a beautiful country with a very diverse population of 65 million people. Sadly, secularism is held in high regard and is one of the foundations of society.
Many French people are atheists. Ideas about Jesus range from him being a fictitious character to a prophet. And despite denying the existence of God, there is significant interest in spiritual powers.
Roman Catholicism has a mixed impact on people’s lives. Some people are still religious followers, others had it imposed on them and as a result, have not wanted to educate their children in this path.
Many youth and young adults do not even know that Christmas is about Jesus nor who Jesus is. Although the Bible is easily available at major bookstores, most people have never read it themselves.
Freedom of religion allows us to live our faith and share it on a personal level. However, because it is seen as something personal, it is not necessarily a prominent topic of conversation. So although there is access to the gospel, many people have not heard it.
We believe that the most effective way to share the gospel message and make disciples is through the local church. This allows for experiencing the body of Christ growing in love, faith, knowledge and unity. That is why we have come here to church plant. Through teaching the Bible, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God can penetrate people's hearts, allow them to come to Christ and grow in maturity. We see Christ in the believers and God working through them to reach their own people. One example is a young man who drove 45 minutes to attend our church service after having heard the gospel from a church member who gave him a ride through a car pooling website.
He had received no religious education and was thirsty for God but did not know where to look. He is now growing in Christ and as a result his mother has started reading the Bible.
There are many different cultures and neighbourhoods here. We have not chosen to work with a specific people group nor neighbourhood because the city is small enough that we want to be accessible to as many as possible. So, we’ve rented a storefront in the downtown as our church location allowing curious people to just drop in. One lady has come in through the recommendation of a shop owner on the same street!
One way we are trying to share the gospel is through our kids clubs that are held every 2-3 months. Our aim is to educate our children in a fun way and to reach out to friends and neighbours. One mother came because she had no answers to her child’s questions about God, life and death. Some come only once, others have come more often. Even though it’s usually a small group, it’s an opportunity for children to hear about who Jesus is and what he has done for them.
We also share the gospel through outreach events. Every April, ‘le Printemps de Bourges’,
a spring music festival attracting over 150 000 people, takes over the city. This year we had 3 teams from churches in Canada and the United States come to perform live worship in our storefront as well as conduct a survey on spirituality on the sidewalk. Some people refused, some engaged in conversation, but many were receptive to prayer. We are challenged to be continually in prayer, for God to draw people to Himself, as we know it is Him who prepares the hearts and makes the planted seeds grow.
You can support Steve and Laura. Go to www.sim.ca/missionaries/cyr