Joyeux Automne! (Happy Fall!)

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since our vision trip to France! So much has happened and we have much to be grateful for, in particular, YOU! who have been with us on this journey for sometime now! We are eager to get back to France and begin the work that we believe God has called us to do there and we are happy to say that every day we are getting closer to making that a reality.

November 1st is coming!

We are praying and working hard to reach the 80% mark of our needed monthly budget by November 1st! We are still looking for monthly or annual partners to help us make this goal. If you would like to become a partner, visit our partner page!


In November, we are launching an exciting Kickstarter-like campaign to raise a portion of our launch funds for France! If you aren’t familiar with this type of crowdfunding website, basically there are levels of gifts to help reach the fundraising goal. Each level has certain "rewards" associated with it, anything from a virtual high-five to a handmade guitar! As you know, art and music are playing a key role in our ministry in France. So, we have decided that for some of these "rewards" we would include some items that artists, including ourselves, have created and donated to help launch us. If you are a professional artist, musician or know of someone who would be willing to donate an item or items to help support this campaign, please email Joanna to talk about becoming a p-ART-ner (cheesy, I know, but it works!) We already have some great items on this list and are excited to share them with you in a few weeks time!

Two Partner Churches!

We were very pleased to learn this month that two churches have officially decided to make us mission partners—the Gate Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and Christ Church Chorleywood, in the UK. The Gate is a place where we have served as house church leaders and found community while we have been in and out of Nashville over the past decade. It is also the home base for the Messenger Fellowship network with which we hope to work with when we are in France. Convenient how God does that, huh? ;) Christ Church Chorleywood is a church where Tom served as the Youth Leader during our time in England and a place where we were released in many ministries as young twenty-somethings. Both churches have been hugely formational in our development and we are so blessed to have their support as we head to France. Praise Jesus!

Trip to Dover, DE

Tom will be jetting off to Dover—the city where he spent most of his youth—the weekend of December 4th. He will be sharing and helping to lead worship at Grace Church. If you are in the Delaware area and would like to connect, please email Tom! He would love to see you!

Autumn is a time where we think about the harvest and are grateful. We are certainly grateful for all of you! Praying peace and blessings on you and yours!

Video Update from The Appels

We made a little video update along with some French Lessons from the Appel Boys!

Prayer Points

Thank you for praying for us! Here are somethings that we would love for you to keep in your prayers over the next few weeks.

  • Pray for the development of church partnerships. We are currently in process with two churches that will be making important decisions this month about partnership. We are also looking for more congregations who might feel led to partner with us in ministering to France.
  • Pray for our family health. We feel like God is calling our family to rest, heal, and strengthen as we prepare to go to the field. We also are praying for continued health in Joanna's pregnancy as we get ready to become a family of six!
  • Pray for France. We are burdened for the people of France to know Jesus. Pray for the strengthening of the church and the ministers already hard at work in France. Pray that people would continue to be open to the message of love and hope that Christ brings to all.

Vision Trip: Answered Prayer

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! We are grateful for you and especially thankful for your willingness to pray and journey with us in this exciting season! We have arrived safely back in Texas after spending two weeks with Joanna’s parents in Arkansas. This was a joyful time for us to be back together as our little family unit after our long separation during the vision trip. The trip also gave us some much needed time to reflect and pray about all that God was working in us while we were in France.


In our last post, we shared some moments with you in which we saw glimpses of what our future ministry might look like. Please have a read here if you were unable to do so before. We didn’t mean to leave you with a cliff-hanger, but we did also mention how thrilled we are that the Lord brought us to a such a strong place of clarity about some significant plans for how we are to join in His work in France:

We are GEM

Greater Europe Mission has an incredible team in France! We felt strong confirmation that they are the right fit for a missions team and sending agency for us. We were able to meet almost all of the the GEM France team at their annual retreat (silly face pictured above) and it was impressive to see such a strong group of leaders moving with one vision, but with a variety of styles and approaches to ministry. GEM values the unique design of each missionary and also puts a high priority on missionary families thriving on the field. We loved the sense of family that has been cultivated with GEM France, and it seemed like a wonderful group for our boys to fit in with too.

We are going to Angers

While we are holding our plans about where we will land and what sort of ministry we will be leading with open hands, it looks our long term role with GEM will be as city leaders in Angers, France. This is a city we love dearly and the part of France that has been on our hearts since we started pursuing this call.

Language School

When we move to France, the first thing we will do is attend language school. Our conversations with French people highlighted the need to work hard at language and increased our passion to learn.

Intentional Partnership

We felt such confirmation about GEM as our team, but we also felt a strong sense of confirmation for us to partner intentionally with Bless and Messenger Fellowship. The exact nature of what these relationships will look like is developing still, but our meetings and connections confirmed that God is doing something there.


We asked you to pray with us that God would give us clarity about where and with whom we would be focused in ministry, and God answered our prayers! It is so exciting to not only have confirmation about going with GEM in Angers as city leaders, but also to have strong relationships growing with the amazing folks at Bless and Messenger. This is more than we could have imagined, and truly a call and vision that sets our hearts on fire!  

Next Steps

Next up for us is a season of inviting partnership. We will be praying and actively seeking people and churches to invest prayer and finances with us towards this Kingdom work in France. We would love for you to pray about how God is calling you to participate in reaching the French people with the message of Jesus. More to come on this soon!

Again we want to thank you so much for praying for us and our children while we were away. We are grateful for you and how you are already partners with us in what God is calling us to do. Have a grateful day!

The Appels

France through Story

22 Days and over 9,000 miles by plane, train, car and ferry boat, we have arrived safely home from our Vision trip to France.  Thank you so much for praying with us and for us this past month. It has been an amazing time and we are so thankful to be back with our sons.

Glimpses of Future Ministry

God was so gracious in answering our prayers.  We are coming home with much greater clarity about what we will do and with whom we will work in France. If we were to put all the things into a single newsletter, we might break your inbox so in this email we want to highlight a few things that God was showing us. Here are some moments that stirred our hearts profoundly for what our lives and work in France may be like someday:  

Speaking to French People about Jesus

Christian and Christine, were our hosts at an AirBnB where we spent a couple of nights in Angers, France. They were a very gracious, older french couple and we had the opportunity to sit and talk with them a couple of times each day.  Our second night there, our conversation turned towards religion. They expressed a belief that theology was different than the church, because the church was about rules and theology was about one’s personal opinion about God. We were able to talk about Jesus and share some verses with them to show that Jesus is not about rules or heavy burdens. We ended up talking about grace and how it isn’t heavy at all.  Later when we shared this experience with some of the missionaries we met, they were amazed that this couple was so open to the conversation. French people are rarely so quick to open up in spiritual dialogue. We see this conversation, in part, as a gift from God—a glimpse of what is to come for us in France.

Leading Worship in French

That’s right, our first Sunday in France we were asked to help lead sung worship for the Bless Sunday service at Bethanie with songs in French and English. It was an amazing experience and stirred us up to learn more songs in French and someday to be writing some of these songs, not only for worship but also as part of a vision to use the arts as a starting point to help not yet believing French people come to Jesus.

Family Ministry

It may simply be that since we have three amazing little boys we are more aware of families with kids, but wherever we were in France it seemed that we were seeing parents and kids. We believe that God has called our family together to France and God was stirring up something in us about the way we can live our witness to His love and goodness as a family in France.

Intercession for France

It began as we went up to the outside observation deck of the ferry that was taking us across from Portsmouth, UK to Caen in Normandy. It isn’t that we haven’t prayed for France before, but as we saw the land we were broken in a fresh way for the people who are living in darkness and we were brought to tears. As we continued to pray for the French people on this trip, God has been filling our hearts with love towards them. One morning, we went with a GEM missionary in Grenoble to a rougher part of the city.  As we walked he showed us the places where the drug dealers sell their products and told us how their first attempts at running a soccer day for the youth in the neighborhood was met by people throwing rocks at them. As we walked in this neighborhood and saw the refugee camps nearby, as we walked in the streets and sat in the cafes, we began to see the deep brokenness of the French people and the hunger for something more. This trip has driven us to our knees even more for this country.

Next Steps

In these moments on our trip and with a better sense of the details moving forward, God has overwhelmingly confirmed our call to France. We have more clarity on details like, where we are going and what we will be doing which we are excited to share with you in our next—and coming soon—newsletter.

In our next season in the States, Tom is running to the finish line of his Mdiv and Jo is still blogging and working at Starbucks. We will be praying for and working to raise the resources we need to follow this call to France. We would love for you to pray about how God is calling you to participate in reaching the French people with the message of Jesus.

Again we want to thank you so much for praying for us and our children while we were away. We are grateful for you and your partnership with us in what God is calling us to do. Many blessings on you and yours this season! 

The Appels

Vision Trip

Hello Friends! Autumn is upon us and while we haven’t pulled out the warm sweaters here in Texas yet, we are enjoying pumpkin-spiced everything. This season is exciting for us especially because we are finally heading to France for our vision trip! In just a couple days!!!! 

What is a 'Vision Trip'?

We’re glad you asked. A vision trip is basically a chance to experience cross cultural ministry in a variety of settings in France. We’ll meet with people on the ground and see in person what God is doing in France. For a year and a half now we’ve been cultivating a vision for what sort of ministry God would have our family do in France. We are praying that this three week trip will be a huge step in gaining clarity on questions like where, what, and how, and will continue to stir up our hearts with God’s love for His people in France.   

What can YOU do?

Pray with us! This is not a small life change we are moving towards. We wouldn’t be heading into cross cultural missions without the influence of people like you in our lives and we need you to come with us to make it happen. Below is more specific information about the things we are doing. Please remember us in your prayers and send us email or messages as God leads. We’ll be trying to post on our 'Appels to France' Facebook page with pictures and musings, along with specific requests for prayer.

The Trip

We will be traveling by plane, car and ferry, all over France, staying in a different place almost every night so we decided to leave the boys at home with their grandparents. It will be the longest we have been away from them (and the longest someone else has had to manage them!) Please pray for their health and safety—and their little hearts and ours as we miss each other terribly—as well as sustaining for the generous family members who will be looking after them while we are away.


We will be in France from October 16th to October 29th. The first few days we will be spending time at Bless Network near Caen in Normandy. We will get to know the city and meet with leaders from that organization to see what God is doing there and if we are a good fit to work with them.  

After this, we will be meeting with a Greater Europe Mission (GEM) city leader in Paris, and then driving down to Grenoble for the GEM France Missionary Retreat. Here we will have the opportunity to meet with more than 50 GEM missionary families and we’ve been invited to be part of leading sung worship. 

After the retreat, we will possibly be visiting Lyon, Tours, and Paris again to meet with leaders from GEM and Messenger Fellowship. We will end our time in France back at Caen where will with catch the car ferry to Portsmouth on the South coast of England.


We will be in the UK from the October 29th to November 4th. The first few days will be spent in London meeting with ministry partners and treasured friends and mentors. On All Hallows Eve, we will travel to Chorleywood in Hertfordshire, our old home town where we did ministry for 5 years. On Sunday November 1st, Tom will be preaching at the morning services at Christ Church and we both will be leading worship at St. Andrew’s Chorleywood at their evening service. In both churches, we have been blessed with the opportunity to share about what God is doing in us for France! If you are one of our UK friends, please try to make it to one of these services so we can see you! We fly out of the UK all the way back to Dallas on the 4th of November, arriving just after our littles go to bed! Whew!

Thank you, as always, for being in our corner as we look towards ministry in France. Again, if you want to follow along with us we will be updating our Appels to France FB page often and keeping connected on social media while we are away. We love you and appreciate you!

Open Doors

Greetings from Sunny Texas! We mean very sunny—it’s hot down here! Thank you so much for praying with us and coming along on this journey towards France. In case you are scratching your chin and thinking, France and the Appels, hmm… yes, I remember something about that... You can catch up on backstory by reading our first blog post, here.

Life in Texas

We are so thankful for God’s grace as we have transitioned to life in Texas. It’s amazing to watch our sons grow in confidence and continue to develop their unique identities. Joanna was just encouraged by the Influence Conference (a gathering of Christian women in Indianapolis who are bloggers and writers). Tom has started into his final fall semester at Bethany Seminary and Joanna started working part-time at Starbucks. We are also thankful for the conversations and reconnections we are getting to have with so many of you, our family and friends, as we get ready for our vision trip to France in October.  


In explaining his travel plans to his friends in a letter, the Apostle Paul gives this reason for staying a while longer in Ephesus: “for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). At the moment, we are seeing a lot of potential open doors for us to join in what God is doing in France. We also know that wherever we land there will be opposition. France is a challenging field, but rather than going in spite of that, we feel called not only because of the open doors, but because of the hard and meaningful work ahead.  

We would love it if you folks would join us in praying for wisdom and discernment about these three potential places of partnership for us in France:

Greater Europe Mission

GEM is our sending agency and we are excited to meet with Charles Cross, the France field leader, as well as other city leaders to talk and pray about what God is doing and how we might fit. A possibility with GEM is jumping in as “city strategists”. In this role, we would lead a team of church planting missionaries to reach a specific city/area. Particularly, we desire prayer about where this might be.

Bless Network

We had the privilege of meeting Gerard and Chrissie Kelly, the leaders of Bless Network, earlier this year when they were visiting Colorado. We resonate strongly with their heart and their artistic approach to evangelism. We will be visiting their ministry base at Bethanie, which in near Caen in Normandy. Please pray for discernment about what this partnership might look like. We could imagine landing in Caen and developing a city strategy with GEM, with partnership from Bless.


Messenger Fellowship and The Gate

The Gate was our home church in Nashville and we are going to visit them the first weekend in October (that’s right Nashville friends, we’ll be in town for a quick weekend, so please message if you want to connect!). Messenger Fellowship is a network of churches that has leadership at the Gate.  There are several churches in Europe who, because of developing relationship with Messenger are wanting to form a network of churches in Europe. We are in conversation with Steve Fry, the pastor at the Gate and leader of Messenger Fellowship, about how our call to France might relate to what God is doing with these churches in Europe.

There may be ways that we can work with all of these lovely people, or we may end up more focused with one ministry.  Please pray, not only for our discernment, but also for the leaders of the ministries already on the ground in France as they think about what in the world to do with us :).

Ok, that’s quite a lot. What a blessing to have so many potential partnerships before we’ve even gone over to meet people face-to-face!  Thank you so much for joining us in prayer. We are so grateful for YOU! Please let us know what’s going on in your lives. What doors are open at the moment, and what seems to be closing? How can we pray with you?  

The Journey Begins

Welcome to our first official newsletter as Missionaries to France! We are so excited to begin this journey towards the mission field. If you are receiving this email, it is because you have signed up for it or, you didn’t and we just thought you would like to be on this list anyway…;)

Discerning Call

Over the past year and a half we have been discerning a call to full-time ministry in France. This call has been a result of seeking God for what our ministry purpose is together, after Tom finishes his Masters of Divinity program at Bethany Seminary. When we were serving the church in the UK, we learned a lot about ourselves and the environment in which we thrive doing ministry. We love to serve together, we love being used by God cross-culturally, and we know that the models of church planting and evangelism that work in Europe, fit us. We are also both artists and love using music, words, food, and visual arts to communicate God’s love to the lost. These are just a few things of many, which point us toward church planting in France.  Although the setting is nice, missionaries to France are greatly needed and the work is hard.  Less than 1% of French people identify themselves as evangelical Christians.   

Scouting Trip

When we first felt called to France, we did not really know what we would be doing or how we would go about doing it! The past year has been a wonderful learning process for us. We are working with Greater Europe Mission (GEM) as our sending agency, and God has given us several exciting connections on the ground in France that we will be exploring more over the next few months. In October, we will be taking a scouting trip to France to visit established missionaries and ministries with whom we could potentially partner when we move there. As a part of this trip, we will be meeting with some of our ministry partners and mentors in the UK who will help us discern what God is doing!

First Steps

This past month, it feels as if our journey towards France is beginning in earnest. We recently finished our ministry roles at our church in Colorado where Tom served as the Youth Pastor for the past couple years. The youth group sent us off with an amazing night of prayer and sharing of what God has done. We were quite overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement for what He is going to do next!  Just this month, we sold our house and moved everything we have, along with our British cat, to Texas where we will be living with Tom’s parents as we pursue this calling towards France. 

An Invitation

So come with us!  No, seriously, we want all of you to come with us on this adventure with God.  Each of you have made significant impact in our lives and we want you with us in the ups and downs of this journey.  Please read our stories, pray with us, and let us know how we can pray with you too!