Returning briefly to the mission agency subject… You may think that we’re just a couple of rebels who don’t like dancing to someone else’s tune… and there is a grain of truth in that! But, we wrestled and struggled over looking for an agency for 7 months, from October 2013. Looking back through my prayer diaries reminds me of the difficult times over that period, feeling discouraged and downhearted, whilst at the same time feeling more and more burdened about France.
It wasn’t until 19 May 2014 that we finally had peace that God did not want us with an international mission agency, after exhausting all the possibilities (and nearly exhausting ourselves!).
I look back on this as a time of testing: it was important that we could know from experiences of disappointment, frustration and discouragement that we weren’t just being starry-eyed dreamers but that this thing was from God. So, thank you, Lord, for testing us, though it wasn’t fun at the time…
What’s with the Releasing, Sending in the title of this post? Our heart is that the Church planting teams we work with are as much training teams as they are planting teams. (I’m using teams in the plural here in faith!) We want to see French Christians trained in discipleship, evangelism, disciple-making, teaching, leadership, Church planting. Some will go back to their home Church and help push God’s work significantly forwards in that location, some will become Church planters themselves, others will do different things.
For this to become reality, Churches all over France will need to be willing to release some of their very best people for a time of training (and perhaps further ministry elsewhere) and to send them. Sending means supporting in prayer, pastorally, and financially. This is a big ask, especially for Churches who are already struggling with people resources and financial resources. But the only way that France can see a spiritual breakthrough is if Churches release and send those God is calling to work in the harvest fields. We believe God wants to use many more French Christians in this harvest, in a new way, to radically increase the effectiveness of outreach work in France.
Where does accepting fit in? We want to be able to accept as many French Christians as possible into training opportunities on Church planting teams. To accept the young and the older. To accept the experienced and the inexperienced. To accept the University graduate and the one with no exam passes. Think of the 12 rag-tag misfits that Jesus dragged round the Middle East for 3 years and you’ll get the picture.
We want to be as flexible as we possibly can in our training. Rather than ask trainees to fit around our rigid schedules and dates, we’d like to try and fit around them. Jacques can come for 12 days? That’s fine. Amelie has 4 months beginning in February? Great! Pascal and Maryse can only come for a weekend? We’ll help them as much as we can. Michel would like to train for 15 months? Super!
We want to remember our struggles to find a home for the vision God is giving us and make sure that it’s much easier for our French brothers and sisters in future.