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

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?