Vision Trip

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!