On the other side of the Channel, the gospel is making progress. 20 years ago, there were probably some 1,800 Bible-believing churches in France. Today it is more like 2,500. That is quite rapid growth.
This was the estimate of Reynald Kozycki, who works among evangelicals at a national level. He says that over 100 new churches have been started in Paris mainly through migrants from other countries. But throughout the country a positive work of church planting is being pursued (through agencies like France Mission) and producing fruit.
Reynald is one of the main organisers of a Bible-teaching conference in Palaiseau, just south of Paris. This conference has met annually for the last 30 years and brings together Christians from around the capital, mostly from Brethren and Baptist backgrounds.
This year the conference took place from October 24-26. The title was ‘Une “foi” pour toutes!’ (One faith for all) and the main speakers were Alain Nisus, professor of theology from the evangelical seminary at Vaux-sur-Seine, and John Benton, the editor of EN.
The organisers had hoped to hold the conference over the last weekend of October, but the venue was refused by the local authorities for that time, so it was held during the working week. Nevertheless, between 200 and 250 people gathered each evening to renew fellowship with one another and hear expositions from the Epistle of Jude. There was a good mix of gender, age and ethnic background.
Reynald and his wife Isabelle are about to leave the church in Palaiseau, where Reynald has been the pastor for the last 12 years. The church numbers 100 people and is in good heart. Reynald is taking up the pastorate of a small church in Paris with the hope that, under God's blessing, it will grow.
Still a difficult place
To be converted and become an evangelical is still thought of as having joined a ‘sect’ in France. When they met Christ and left Catholicism, one couple who attended the conference spoke of being ostracised by members of their family for three years. Things changed when the family had to attend a funeral at which Reynald was asked to give the sermon. There the family acknowledged that they had heard ‘a good message’ from the Bible and began to see the couple in a new light.
Many pastors from across Paris dropped into the conference, including Trevor Harris and his wife, who are connected with St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, London, and involved in church planting in the capital.
The Lord was evidently present and this led to serious prayers of rededication at the conclusion of the conference.