This week, Naomi, Steph and I visited Lyon to attend a conference with student workers from churches across France, to share with each other our vision of student churches.
The day was headed up by Fusion, a UK based organisation committed to equipping and encouraging students to live missionally; Fusion have recently felt God calling them to bring their focus to Europe. They teamed up with two local church leaders in Lyon, the priest of the Catholic church of Sainte-Blandine, and the reverend of Lyon Anglican church, to host the day. Seven different university cities were represented, Marseille, Nice, Paris, and of course Caen, amongst them.
The set up of the day was casual, leaving lots of space for us to chat to one another about our cities, our churches, and what God’s been doing. For us it was a chance to share about our student group, Panoramic, and how we’ve seen a real sense of community grow over the last few months, fostering a place of encouragement and praying together, and building friendships between international and French students. Steph also shared plans for opening a coffee shop as part of Bless reaching further into the heart of Caen. We also heard some amazing stories from churches whose student ministry is thriving, with students starting and leading their own Christian groups and Alpha courses, bringing church onto their campuses.
Personally, I found the day really encouraging to realise that our student group in Caen isn’t all that God is doing with students in France! Since arriving in France, I’ve heard the phrase ‘spiritually dry’ countless times describing the country compared to. for example, the UK. However this day was a reminder to be encouraged and stay hopeful in our actions and prayers around student ministry. While I’ve noticed that being a Christian student in France is more difficult than I’m used to in the UK university system, the Christian students I have met are clearly passionate about student mission, loving their cities, and being plugged into church.
It’s clear that God is on the move in France; His spirit is causing hearts to break for students that don’t yet know their heavenly Father, and stirring up excitement in people called to engage with and encourage young Christians. Fusion are committed to seeing more student work rise up across the country, and helping to provide links between churches to support one another. During this day of worshipping and praying together, we could see God planting even more seeds in people’s hearts for students in France. You can already sense the ripples of His spirit moving, and it’s exciting to imagine what might happen over the next few years in France, and to wait, pray, and act expectantly: how exciting to see God raising up students to be a generation of revival of the Church in France!
During our visit we had a couple of evenings spare to explore the city; highlights included a fun trip up a big hill in a tiny train, and finding a Primark, a Starbucks, and a couple of nice restaurants for dinner! It was a fun and encouraging couple of days.