France, the birthplace of John Calvin, saw a glorious revival in the mid-16th century with Calvin and others in Geneva training and sending thousands of pastors to evangelise and plant churches in France, and hundreds of thousands being converted.

After this, however, the wars of religion and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes under Louis XIV, led to Protestants being hounded out of the country, and the believing church dwindling and being marginalised for hundreds of years.

Until 1905, Catholicism was still the official religion and about 60% of French people would still claim to be Catholic (including lapsed Catholics and ‘Catholic atheists’!). But church attendance is at an all-time low, and for many their experiences of the Catholic church only serve to inoculate them against Christian teachings, believing that they’ve heard enough already.

In reality, secularism is the creed of the French republic, with religious discourse and symbols either banned or strenuously kept out of educational establishments and public life. France is also the birthplace of Descartian rationalism and existentialism, exalting the reason and will of human beings and sneering. And yet many are attracted by new age spiritualities occultism.

France is home to an estimated 5.7 Muslims, with immigrants and refugees moving from majority-Muslim ex-colonies in Africa. On the surface there is integration; in reality there is a deep-seated sense of marginalisation on the part of the Islamic community, and an increasing fear of Islam among the non-Muslim population. All this has made France a particular target for Islamic terrorism, and the government is now passing laws which will surely only lead to a greater sense of division.

France is also the birthplace of Descartian rationalism and existentialism… And yet many are attracted by new age spiritualities occultism.

Yet God the Father has been doing a wonderful work for the glory of his Son over the past 50 years in France, inciting a global prayer movement for the country, tripling the number of churches since 1970 and growing the church from 150,000 to some 650,000, almost 1% of the population. Many have been saved and many trained for gospel ministry.

And yet there remains a great gospel need among Muslim populations; under-privileged parts of cities; and in huge rural counties with very few gospel-believing churches.

Please pray …

• Thank God for growth in the church with many churches planted in the last 50 years
• Thank God for the growing number of establishments and resources for training – pray that the Lord would raise up many to lead and reach unreached areas
• Pray for a work of God among traditional, secular-Catholic people, who remain an almost unreached people-group
• Pray for God to give his church a heart for Islamic neighbourhoods
• Pray for sound teaching and an increasing conviction about the sufficiency and power of the gospel for justification and sanctification

 

Christopher (Del) de la Hoyde serves in church planting in France