“They described their personal encounter with Jesus.”
“They grasped the truth that Jesus loves them profoundly.”
“The reality of Christ moved them to commit their lives to Him and to be baptized because of their devotion to Him.”
These are the words of a church leader in Paris as he described the public testimony of new believers who came to Christ several months ago in response to Finding the Hope campaigns in Levallois- Courbevoie, in the northwest section of the city. The campaign was a strategic and very creative partnership between EHC/France and a local church, Mission Chrétienne Evangelique [MCE].
Using the Trouver l’Espoir (Finding the Hope) booklet, committed volunteers from MCE systematically went door-to-door, personally delivering the booklets or leaving one in the mailbox if the residents were not at home. In all, some 23,000 homes were visited. When it was not possible to gain access to mailboxes, the Trouver l’Espoir materials were left with building superintendents to distribute to residents.
Volunteers returned to the same homes to make follow- up visits and leave a card inviting anyone interested to attend a very unusual café/bistro meeting. The card contained only a web address, ensuring that inquirers would be introduced to the message of the Gospel once again. Attractive posters appeared in various locations advertising the café/bistro events and listing other pertinent information. Radio promotions, tracts, invitations and other advertising provided specific information about times and locations.
The outreach resulted in 60,000 people having the opportunity to know who Jesus is, how they might know Him, and how they might personally experience His love and receive his gift of eternal life.
Raymond Ruffe, senior pastor of Mission Chrétienne Evangelique, facilitated the café/bistro events. He said, “if people would not come to the church, the church would go to the people.” And so they did—in the form of Finding the Hope cafés in several locations where believers from many walks of life would share their stories of finding hope in Christ. After each presentation, visitors were then invited and encouraged to put their faith in Jesus.
Since the Finding the Hope café was not an internal church program but a ministry beyond the walls of the church, it drew people who would otherwise never hear and experience the Good News of true Hope.
Many people responded, among them four young women who received Christ and made public profession of their faith through water baptism at the Mission Chrétienne Evangelique Church in the city of Levallois. One of the women, a young lady from Iran, shared how that when she came to France she felt alone, cut off from her family, her culture and her traditions. When she visited one of the Finding the Hope cafés she heard the truth for the first time and was changed by the love and hope of Jesus. Many friends, colleagues and relatives from outside of the church came to witness her baptism and that of the other women, and to hear of their newfound faith in Christ. What an impact it made!
FINDING THE HOPE IN THE VILLAGES OF FRANCE
As a result of Operation Villages, Finding the Hope booklets were delivered in 2011 to homes in villages and rural areas of France where Gospel outreach is virtually unknown. Missionary teams from other nations joined with teams coordinated by EHC/France to spread the word of hope. In the Champagne- Ardennes region in north-central France, teams proclaimed the Gospel to 7,000 homes. Others partnered with a local church in the town of Charleville-Mezieres (Ardennes department) to reach hundreds more. And near the border of French-speaking Belgium, 36 villages were systematically visited by tireless workers. The Champagne-Ardennes outreach opened many doors (literally) and encouraged local Christians to be steadfast in their witness.
The Burgundy region, at the crossroads of Northern Europe, Italy, Switzerland and the Mediterranean world, was the targeted area of a team of 12 young Christians from Ireland who partnered with a local church in Avallon to spread the word. The Irish missionaries are members of a Christian youth ministry called Exodus. During their 15-day visit to France they sowed the seed in a town of 8,300 inhabitants and in 12 surrounding villages. Thousands heard the Gospel and many have responded and requested the 7 Days with Jesus booklet.
In the Lorraine region, the city of Metz and its surrounding villages became a dynamic mission field during the summer months. Missionaries from the ministry called Gospel Vision provided support to 14 churches in the area, communicating the Good News in home-to-home visits and ministry on the streets. Mimes, skits and choreography attracted thousands of people who were able to hear and receive the message of the Gospel. Public programs went on for six hours each day. The outreach continues to reap fruit with people expressing their interest via the website and through direct contact with the EHC office. Reports continue to come in of people attending local churches because of the outreach. A supply of 10,000 copies of the follow-up booklet, 7 Days with Jesus, is nearly gone. A reprint has been ordered to meet the ongoing need.
Apart from the direct benefit of lives being impacted with the Gospel, there are also huge blessings to members of local churches who volunteer. Pierre Clement says emphatically, “when the people go home-to-home with the Good News, they come back with the fire of the Lord! It is not uncommon to see workers return infused with an unspeakable joy because the fear of sharing their faith has been broken, they have seen how the Lord has been totally in charge of their lives, even in difficulties, and they have witnessed His touch on the hearts of the people in the homes that were visited.”
We thank God for the ministry of EHC/France and for the 150,000 homes personally visited in 2011. May the harvest continue!
Les vies sont transformées ! [Translation: Lives are being transformed!]
Editor’s Note: EHC/Canada has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with EHC/France, led by Pierre Clement (who also serves as and Regional Director of EHC/Europe). We often “compare notes” with Pierre and have been so blessed by his wise counsel and clear thinking. In a recent meeting with him at our offices in Guelph, Pierre gave us a firsthand report of the life-transforming results of Finding the Hope outreaches throughout France. Above are some details of initiatives both in cities and in villages.