In Bless we believe that Christian mission should lead to visible and measurable transformation in the cities and communities in which it is carried out.
This has led us, in the city of Caen, to focus our plans and prayers on the former docks area, now largely abandoned and home to an eclectic population of homeless people, refugees and trafficked women. Despite being adjacent to a prosperous City Centre, the Presqu’île area is among the neediest neighbourhoods of Caen, known locally for many years as a “no-mans-land”. To bring change to this visibly derelict area is to participate in the transformation of the City itself. In this forgotten place, God has called us to:
- Build Church – We are planting a non-denominational, international, missional community of faith
Worship – From day one we have worshipped in this desolate place, declaring the joy of God over it.
Love the Poor – We will serve all those in this neighbourhood in need of food, freedom and forgiveness.
Caen is a city of 120,000 people serving a metro area (‘Caen La Mer’) of 270,000.
It is the principal city for the Basse Normandie region. ‘Caen Presqu’île’ is the name given to the former docks area, sandwiched between the river Orne and the former ship canal and close to the city centre. This is a sector of the city with significant social and spiritual need. A number of abandoned warehouses have for many years been used by the city’s homeless population. In addition, the area has more recently become home to two incoming populations: trafficked women working in the sex industry and refugee families spilling over from the camp(s) in Calais. The women operate from approximately 30 vans spread across the area, and the refugees are squatting a number of former warehouse units. Bless teams have been praying for the city of Caen over many years. For the past 4 years our church has regularly walked the streets, seeking God for his heart for the city. It is this process that has led us to focus on the Presqu’île as an area of great need. We believe that this forgotten place has been set-apart by God for a new expression of his kingdom.
In April 2017 we established a weekly service (SOS CHAI) of hot food to a group of around 80 Sudanese migrants, working from a converted ambulance. Our next steps will be to extend the scope of this service, to secure premises in the area and to build towards a long-term church presence.
We are also working through Keys&co, a coffee shop planted as a new kingdom business in the City.