I’m back in the U.S. after being in Aix-en-Provence, France for 10 days with the Ember Cast. I have successfully conquered jetlag once again (if you didn’t know, I am the master of jetlag), and my heart is full with convictions and my mind is full of memories earned during my time in Aix. It is all too much to process and write all at once, so it will take time for me to transfer my journal entries and stories to this blog. I’m just going to go at it a little bit at a time.
I think I’ll start off with one of my favorite memories from the trip. We spent our time both setting up and working at the annual English-immersion Christ-centered camp run by ICCP, a church plant in Aix. During the actual camp week, two little 8-year-0ld girls named Maddie and Amy* immediately latched on to me and I latched on to them. Despite the language barrier (they only spoke French), we laughed and played together all the time. I began teaching them some English and they began teaching me some French, and we became friends. Each day, there were three assemblies where we sang fun songs and watched a drama. It was all very exciting for the kids. After the music and drama, Pastor Tim would get up on stage to deliver a simple message about God to the kids. It was translated in French as well in order to ensure that the children understood the message.
When Pastor Tim first introduced the Bible to the kids, he was talking about it as though it was a foreign concept. He explained that the Bible was a book that told us all about God and how much He loves us. After the message was finished, Maddie began conversing urgently in French with Amy. Then they tried to communicate with me. I had to get a counselor who spoke French to translate. Maddie was asking if the Bible was a secret book that only certain people could have access to. She was confused about this “man of Good News” that Pastor Tim mentioned. In that moment, I realized that Maddie had never in her life heard about our God before.
I have learned a lot about the unreached and the unengaged and post-Christianity in Europe from doing this internship through the Ember Cast. But that short minute of confusion that I witnessed first-hand made it all real. Kids in France aren’t learning about God. Kids in France are unreached. And as I sat there in awe I realized that I see traces of this in the U.S. I started remembering friends of mine saying things like, “I’m not going to teach my kids about Jesus because I don’t really believe it” or “I’m not going to raise my kids in the church because I don’t want to be associated with it.” Things are changing, and it was a wake up call to me. My actions need to reflect Christ. I need to allow God to mold me and use me so that people might see Him in me. Because Christianity is declining rapidly in France as well as in my own country but God’s mission is not. He still calls me to share the Good News with others by making my life a testament to the love He has for us.
My heart is full of joy because I can honestly say that I grew to love Maddie and Amy, and they got to hear of God’s boundless love for them this week. That makes my whole trip to France worthwhile.
*Names changed for confidentiality purposes