Discipleship in France (Joel and Becky Kennedy)
Serving in the Savoie region of France
Where We Work
“Why France??” This is probably the #1 question we are asked. For most people in North America, France is not a country that would appear to need missionaries. Churches are literally everywhere, and include some of the most famous in the world, such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. In every neighbourhood, town, and even the tiniest of villages, there is a church. Surely, this is evidence of a county with a strong spiritual presence, Non?
Sadly, this is so far from the truth.
While driving through the countryside on our most recent trip to France as a family, the truth hit us hard. Every town we explored had a church at the centre. But we were struck by a heart wrenching realization: these churches were all virtually empty. Some were transformed into museums or businesses, but most stood as monuments to an old dead religion that only maintained the facade that France is a “Christian” nation.
Historically, France had many Christians (predominately Catholic). But the strong emphasis of secularism and distrust for the Catholic Church has been growing since the Revolution. Prominent French thinkers aimed to prove that humanity could exist and find meaning in logic and reasoning alone. Over time, the French decided there was no reason for God to be part of their every day lives, and ultimately France came to the devastating conclusion that “God is Dead”. Over the centuries that followed, the church in France grew empty, and remaining believers became a small minority at the fringes of society. As of 2014, 29% of people in France identified as atheists (ranked the 4th most atheist country in the world) with only 2% of people identifying as Catholic and less than 1% as Evangelical believers. In essence, arts, science, and philosophy became the new religion of the people.
This is the present duality of France: rich in Christian heritage but destitute in any knowledge of Jesus and His grace.
So herein lies the answer to “Why France?” While church buildings may remain as empty monuments to a dead religion, our hearts cry out that GOD is NOT DEAD! God longs to restore the people of France to Himself, to bring life and hope back into His Church. This is the movement we feel God is calling us to be a part of. In joining Greater Europe Mission, we have the privilege of being part of a team of missionaries who continue to carry on the vision of discipleship and church planting in France that started nearly 80 years ago.
So what will we do? We feel our hearts are being called to the Savoie region of France. Initially, we will study language and culture while learning how to best serve and participate in the work Christ is already doing in the city. Once training is complete, we will partner with both nationals and other missionaries to engage in church planting. We will be seeking God for opportunities to intentionally make disciples and form new churches. Our desire is that much like a pebble in a pond, whatever splash we make in the community would have ripple effects moving outward, much farther than we could hope to go.
So why go now? The simple but honest answer is because “God said so”. We have had France on our hearts for nearly 14 years, and have been willing to go at any time. But God had plans for us in the waiting. He has been developing our character and preparing us in some incredible ways. But recently, God has said to us that our time of waiting is over. The time to go is now, and we hope to arrive before the end of 2023. And with the COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the current global economic downturn, it would seem that many people are in great need of some “good news”. We will arrive in France at a time when hearts might just be ready and open to hearing it.
Will you join us? The Church in France is presently small and under-resourced. We believe, therefore, that God is calling the Global Church to rise up and support the advancement of His Kingdom in France. While God is asking our family to leave Canada and move to France, we cannot go alone. We need ministry partners like you to join us.
Please join us by:
1) Praying: Pray for us as a family, for the people of France, and for hearts and lives to be changed by God’s love, grace, and hope. Pray that light will triumph over darkness.
2) Giving: Living in Europe is not cheap. We are confident God will provide for our needs, but money will not likely fall from the sky! We believe this is a permanent move for us, so we will need financial partners both to get us there (moving costs) and, more importantly, keep us there (a basic monthly income).