Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ten Things...

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25

Good morning, afternoon and evening, dear friends!
Photo: kurious pixabay

Today I am participating again in another blog hop with my friends from Baptist Missionary Women.  (If you've never checked out their blog, follow the link on the sidebar--there are so many wonderful articles about life on the mission field.)

Our assignment today was to write about ten things that I wish people knew about my field.  After being here in France for almost 16 years now, I am always surprised at people's reactions when I mention that we are ministering in France.  Many people are surprised:  don't the French people already believe in God?  Shouldn't our family be investing in a third-world country, where the need is "greater" and people are more open to the gospel?  In response to those questions (and many others) my prayer is that, after reading this blog, you will have a better understanding of what it's like to minister in an western European country.


1.  French people are NOT rude.  At least, not any more rude than they are in other countries.  I think (unforturnately) this misconception comes from too many American tourist encounters with harangued Parisians after being asked for directions to the Eifel Tower in over-exaggerated English.  (See that pointy thing over there?  Keep walking--you'll find it.) Knowing the language, or at least attempting the language, goes a long way toward endearing yourself to a French person.  Maybe this misconception begets more rudeness on our part, which makes for a vicious circle?  Just a thought.  Which brings me to number 2:

2.  French people are usually more reserved than the average American, hence the thought that many French people are snobs.  They're not.  They just don't spill their life story to you on their first visit.  Or their second or third or fourth visit, for that matter.  It takes time to build up trust and relationships with folks here.  They are comfortable with silence (not necessarily a bad trait, either, and one I am still learning.)  When someone invites you over for coffee, you know that you are well on your way to making a new friend.

3.  Contrary to published statistics, Roman Catholicism is not the largest religion in France.  The number one religion in France is apathy.  Being Catholic for many people is synonymous with being French, but many people do not hold to the Catholic beliefs, or even know WHAT they believe.  My husband and I have had many conversation with "Catholic atheists," folks who tell us they are Catholic but don't believe in God.

4.  The second largest belief in France is Islam, and the fastest growing, not from conversions but from an influx of Muslim immigrants.  (Southern France is only an hour by plane from northern Africa, where a lot of French-speaking Muslims live.)  There is a lot of hostility toward Muslims in France, and that makes for some tricky living and working situations as well.

5.  We have McDonalds in France!  Woo hoo!  Also KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King!  For many folks, having McDonald's in a country is the same thing as having the same beliefs and values as America.  Just because France has American products or services does not make it American.  The French are still the French--it just means that they enjoy a hamburger every now and again.  (Just FYI--one meal in McDonalds for our family of 5 can cost close to $45, so eating out is a definite treat for us.)

6.  When you live in the north of France, and travel to the south of France, Paris just becomes another obstacle to get around.  Many friends have told us several times how blessed we are to live so close to Paris. We are--until it's time to travel anywhere.  When my husband's brother lived south of Paris (a 2.5 hour trip by GPS), it has taken us anywhere from 3 hours to 6.5 hours to make the same trip.  So, the next time we mention that we "get" to travel to Paris or near Paris, pray for us.  We are not wandering down the Champs-Elysées in search of chocolate croissants.  We are doing spiritual warfare--in the car.

7.  I don't think I will EVER be fluent in French.  Speaking and understanding a language is one thing, but being able to master the pitfalls of gender, subjunctive tenses, and colloquial expressions...well, there is always something to mess up.  Yes, I do dream in French, but even then I am sure that I make mistakes.  Many mistakes.  And the French folks are particular about their language, as well they should be.  It is (in my humble opinion) one of the most beautiful languages in the world, when spoken correctly.

8.  French food is out of this world good!  Everything you have heard about French cuisine is true!  One of the things I appreciate about living here is that a meal is more than shoving food down my throats: it is a beautiful, lengthy sharing time.  You just have to have stamina:  a meal can go on for three hours or more! Don't even get me started on French breads, cheeses, pastries and coffee.  Moving on, before I have to go get something to snack on...

9.  France is a beautiful country as well.  We have it all--beautiful cities, mountains, beaches, lakes, rivers, and villages.  If you ever plan a trip to France, I always encourage people to stay outside of Paris.  There are so many beautiful things to visit OUTSIDE of the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa, which in comparison to many paintings in the Louvre is the size of a postage stamp.  Seriously--come to Picardy and enjoy the rolling farmland and see our cathedral in Amiens, which is my humble opinion is much nicer than Notre Dame de Paris. You can visit us as well!

10.  France is still a needy country.  The ministry in France is hard, no question.  Folks do not like to open up about their beliefs, and are very shy when it comes to talking about themselves.  To turn to God is to admit that their families' Catholic beliefs--which have been engrained for centuries--is not enough to get them to heaven.  There are so many obstacles toward genuine faith, and fruit is little compared to the efforts and time put out.  Is it worth it?  Definitely.  And the need far outweighs the workers here--maybe you will come and join us in the ministry God has called us to as well.

Thanks for stopping by!  See you for our next blog hop!

To read, the next blog, click here:  Rebecca in West Africa Becca's Point of View


  1. Great post! Makes me want to see every part of it.

  2. Thanks for joining in the blog hop! I've always wanted to visit France.

  3. Enjoyed your post. We find that young French people are open and friendly. Unfortunately, our French isn't good enough to gain the respect of the older people. A lot has to do with whether or not you speak good French and whether you respect the unspoken rules of the culture. We LOVE France, by the way, and our family has many lovely memories of vacations and day trips spent over the border. Loved your post!

  4. We really enjoyed this post. Very informative! We would love to visit France some day.

  5. Thank you for sharing! I wouldn't mind visiting you someday! My daughter dreams of visiting Paris! :)

  6. I very much enjoyed your informative post!

  7. I enjoyed your post so much and brought back some good memories of when we served as missionaries on St. Barthelemy. I know exactly what you mean about lengthy meals!!! Eating at a restaurant took on a whole new meaning!
    So glad I found your blog!
    Kami Gimenez

  8. I would love to spend time in France...and upon your recommendation, preferably outside of Paris. I enjoyed reading all about your field. Thank you for taking the time to share!

  9. Interesting and informative post! Thanks for sharing your field and also being willing to answer God's call to minister to the people.

  10. I really enjoyed reading about your country. We have often thought about visiting France. We're not too terribly far from there. I enjoyed all your facts. It's funny how the world can paint a country as one thing when the truth is completely contrary. Thank you for serving out Lord in France!

  11. I'm working on a a calligraphy project, and I need to know how to say, "God loves you" in French to an individual person. Thank you for your help!

  12. I'm working on a a calligraphy project, and I need to know how to say, "God loves you" in French to an individual person. Thank you for your help!