French Baptist Congress: ‘Saved for reconciliation’

French Baptist Congress: ‘Saved for reconciliation’

Philip Halliday, FEEBF/BMS World Mission - June 01, 2017

Around five hundred French Baptists gathered in Mulhouse in eastern France last week for the annual French Baptist Congress (25-27 May). The event featured three days of worship, challenge and encouragement from leaders and churches across the Federation. There were also engaging seminars on a range of topics such as ‘art as evangelism’ and ‘using online theological training’. Mealtimes too provided an important opportunity for people to catch up.

The keynote messages, which were brought by Mennonite author and theologian Claude Baecher and by Nabil Costa, head of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD), were challenging and inspiring calls to be reconcilers, focused on the words from 2 Corinthians 5: 18: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

“If we really want life on earth to be ‘as it is in heaven’ we must seek to do all things in love”, said Claude. “In France”, he continued, “the average person thinks in their subconscious that you must keep the Church out of power, because if you give the Church power, they’ll kill everyone. Our history has often not been marked by peace, but our future must be”.

Speaking honestly about the refugee crisis in Lebanon, Nabil shared that he would have preferred not to have almost 50 per cent of his country now made up of refugees from Palestine, Syria and Iraq. And yet, in the midst of the trouble, Christians in Lebanon are seeing things they’ve never seen before. Their churches are packed with people. “People prayed for the Church to grow,” Nabil said. “God answered these prayers – now we don’t want it!” He continued, “I am so glad God didn’t consult me about the refugee crisis,” admitting that he would have told God to send them somewhere else. “Everything that is happening is beyond my comprehension. But the good news is, God is in control.”

There are approximately 120 Baptist churches in the French Baptist Federation. Their size, as with all French Protestants, is relatively small. And yet, the number of French Evangelicals has multiplied nine times in the past 60 years and the number of Baptists six times. Give thanks and continue to pray for the French Baptists, as they reach out to their neighbours with the gospel and seek to be a force for reconciliation.

Thierry August, President of Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches of France (FEEBF).

Marc Deroeux, FEEBF General Secretary.

Listening to a church-planter from Caen.

Photos by Rosemary Halliday, by Sarah Stone, and by Jean-Luc Gadreau.