This past Sunday night, a little before 6:00pm, I returned from Lille, France. My wife, I, and two others from WBC went on a short term trip (STM) to visit with a couple our church has been supporting for 30 years. This couple – named Leroy and Debbie Zumack – have been serving the Lord with Greater Europe Mission (GEM) for 30 years. After serving the Lord in Paris for about 20 years, they moved to Northern France to Lille.
We were invited for 7 days to come alongside of them in their early stage of planting an international church – an English-speaking church in the city of Lille. They are currently attending a French-speaking church, but with a sizable international community in the city and English being commonly spoken, the Lord has called them to plant another church.
Much of our ministry with them centered around contacting and locating English speakers who were either (1) potential attendees of this church or (2) Gospel contacts. And there were 2 primary ways of contact that we were involved with.
First, we distributed water bottles at numerous locations around the city. Attached to these water bottles were labels with information about this church. Usually, we would approach people or wait for them to come near us, ask them if they would like a free bottle of water, ask them if they spoke English and then engage them in conversation, often pursing an opportunity to share the Gospel.
I was very thankful for the privilege of sharing the Gospel a number of times during this water distribution – primarily with North African or Muslim men who were willing to converse and were curious why we were passing out free water in a city filled with gypsies looking for handouts.
There was a particularly memorable conversation I had with 3 women who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They admitted to me they were all considering leaving the church and were unhappy with some things but hesitant to give out contact information – probably fearing the persecution from their church.
Second, we attended an informal meeting at a café late at night. This café hosted a number of groups speaking different languages one night a week. We joined an English-speaking group made up of French, Colombians, Romanians, Italians, Americans, Japanese, etc. While many of them were coming to practice their English and network with others looking to do so, we were attending to build contacts for this church plant and share the Gospel.
I think about a middle-aged man I shared the Gospel with who was convinced happiness in himself was enough for life and struggled with the idea of eternal joy in Christ. Each of us on this team from WBC spread out to maximize the number of people we could share with.
In a country that is very apathetic religiously, it was a joy to plant seed and we pray for it to germinate in the future.
The biggest blessing of this STM, in my opinion, was that it didn’t feel like a stereotypical STM.
You know those STM’s where you plan for 10 months, meeting weekly, going over details ad nauseum, participate in team-building exercises, and then arrive on site thinking you are going to turn the world upside down? Those trips I do not enjoy and that is another blog post for another time,
What made this STM unique was that it felt more like us participating in the typical life of the Zumack’s. It felt like we were just a few more people alongside of them doing what they do on a regular basis. We even enjoyed their day off with them!
Because this was our experience, it gave us much more confidence that when we returned home that we could do what they are doing. It reminded us that their life serving the Lord is no different than our life serving the Lord. We are called to make disciples in our spheres of influence. And that is what they are doing in Lille, and that is what we are pursuing in Wichita.
So much more can be shared. Here is a video of a few more highlights from our STM to Lille, France.