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