It’s very difficult to choose one place without going to every place. There might be some country sitting out in the middle of Asia or the Pacific that suits me quite well. I’ll never make it to every country and region of the world. It’s not on a bucket list. It’s never been a real goal of mine. So when people ask ‘Why France?’ the answer is difficult to respond to. I thought I’d take a moment to hash out some of my personal answers to the question in a free-flowing way.
I spent 4 days in Germany. There was about 14 seconds of that time that I understood what was going on (ask Rob and Nikki about my German GPS navigating skills). I spent 12 days in Japan. Japanese is a beautiful language. I spent a few years learning French. My teacher, Mlle. Johnson, taught me well because the language stuck. I felt comfortable with French, even when I had no idea if I was paying 2 or 200 Euros for a cup of tea (at a bar on a Sunday morning none the less). It just felt right. I was comfortable in being uncomfortable. There were moments when it all went over my head and I was confused other times when it went over my head and I was giddy.
2- Excellent Teaching
After landing in Stuttgart, Germany (man was it clean there) we rode a van to Crash Weekend. The crazy part was we stepped off a plane ride (featuring 6 or 7 hours of lost time) and went right to an event where there were speakers and sitting. I was tired. I didn’t fall asleep.
Hearing the leaders of Kontaktmission talk about calling and why missionary work was enlightening and invigorating. We heard some very interesting talk about being careful to not put words in God’s mouth and never losing track of the calling that we all have. I realized Germans have an obsession with tropical fruits.
I knew from that weekend that Kontaktmission was an organization I wanted to be a part of. I knew that Rob and all the other leaders were serious about church planting and could meet our needs and furnish us with goals and encouragement to do what we felt we need to do. KM has never planted a church in France before but the ambition to reach Europe has driven them to open new fields and when we said ‘France’ they, through Rob and an interpreter were pleased to see what the field had in store. (it was also there in Germany that I played Rummikub Word in English and German at the same time. Oddly, my request to throw French in was denied.)
3- Take Pictures of the People
Rob gave us some good tips while on our trip. One simple one was, ‘include the people of whatever city you were in in the pictures you were taking.’ Europe is a vacation spot, ancestral homeland and foreign exchange land for most Americans. It’s very easy to get caught in the castles, donjons, and bratwurst. It’s easy to have that silly grin when your ticket gets taken by a pleasant English woman on a train in London. It’s easy (for someone like me) to wonder how many military men have stepped on the ground you are on intent on taking it for themselves. Europe is ripe with history.
It’s easier to look at the people around you and know they have no idea who God is when you forget for a moment or two that you are standing on some place only kept in dreams and travel agency pamphlets. The Church in Europe (France being no exception) is winning victories but the Churchless are still hopeless. Yes, it’s the same in America, Botswana, Laos and Vanuatu but for those moments when I was there in France- it was striking. The people need something and I am partially equipped to deliver it. I want to be fully equipped and ready not just for me and for God but for a generation of French Christians coming behind me.