EASTER SUNDAY 2023:
EIC PARIS RIVE GAUCHE (Left Bank)
The location of our new church plant – 14th Arrondissement, Place Denfert Rochereau, Paris
Easter Sunday 2023: Thank you to our Partners
Easter Sunday Sermon Podcast:
Easter 2023: The Hope, The Vision, The Reality
John 20:1-18 (CSB translation)
Listen to the sermon on SoundCloud
or Spotify Podcasts below.
Watch our short videos (click image to start)
What is happening with the church plant in Paris?
– John Hugh & Linda
We had our first Sunday service this past Sunday, Easter 2023. It was at a local cafe in the city of Paris. It was an honor, a privilege, and a blessing to be there and be part of it. However, it didn’t all start or come together overnight. We had been meeting regularly mid-week in the evenings since Fall 2022 at this same cafe. We have been able to meet many new people there, but even more so, we have grown together and coalesce as a group. Our mid-week meetings were a great springboard to make plans for Sunday services and beyond.
After Christmas 2022, Linda and I felt a conviction to follow through with our goal of planting a new church in the south of Paris by starting a Sunday expression on Easter Sunday 2023. God has been ahead of us this entire time and He has made a way. We are so thankful after a long, exciting weekend, and we now look forward to the next steps in the journey. For now, we are thankful for our personal journey that began before Covid and for the prayers for this church that began 5 years ago at EIC Paris.
What has been the hardest part of the journey?
The hardest part of our family journey has not been church planting or ministry. Yes, it’s not easy to start a new church in Paris, France, but for us, the logistics of a family of 5 living in France are the most challenging. I can see why France has been called – or maybe it is just Paris – the missionary’s graveyard. I have found people are searching for spiritual conversations and relationships.
So the challenge has to find a rhythm in the adjustment to feel settled, feel acclimated, to live, to speak, and make a home here. It’s different. We need you to come and see, and you will understand all the hoops we jump that are often difficult to share in 1 blog post. Even the travel from one place to the next in the most dense city in Europe creates daily challenges.
We have been blessed with visitors who have see how long it takes to go from point A to point B, and how disjointed travel and connections can be. It’s now a part of our daily life, along with recent strikes, that we are continually grappling with and finding creative solutions to. I haven’t even mentioned the recent strikes – that’s a whole other story
Beyond a doubt, it’s the struggle of managing my fears as a mother. I have intentionally put hard things in my children’s lives when our instinct as parents is to shelter them. I struggle at times with the confidence that we are not asking too high a price of them in this adventure of church planting.
Recently, I confronted long-standing fears regarding my middle special needs child. These fears have been buried for many years. In France, there is no procrastination or blissful ignorance to bury fears. With so much change, I cannot afford not to be proactive, something I will share more in an upcoming devotion.
What have been the biggest blessings in the church planting journey?
The biggest blessings have been the new people we’ve been able to develop deep relationships with. This has primarily happened at our mid-week gatherings in the evenings over the last few months. When people have committed to the new church and spent more and more time with us, it’s been meaningful. It’s been amazing to see where our folks come from: all over the world, all different ages and backgrounds, but all English speakers.
Someone recently asked me – an old friend – what the demographics of our new church were like. How many Americans are in the church? Not much at all, I replied. It’s not that we aren’t seeking Americans – we’ll always be American & attract Americans – yet it’s been a great thing to have a truly international church: French, English, American, Philippines, Brazil, Singapore, Iran, Holland, Malaysia, South Africa, and China. For our first Easter Sunday, we had people find us on Google and drop in from Germany and the Nigeria. It’s been a marvel to see this community start to grow.
The biggest blessing is stretching my faith – seeing God show up because I know I am not capable of manufacturing a result – especially in a foreign culture. My prayer life has changed: I don’t get out of bed until I have prayed for my heart to be joyful or ready for the challenge of the day. This usually means I spend a good 20 minutes in bed because there is always a new challenge that I am scared of or a fear I have to submit to the Lord before I put my feet on the ground.
The other blessings are the wonderful people I meet, especially people motivated to see a new church and willing to take risks alongside us. The energy and excitement is palpable and we hope to stay encouraged.
How to you see the church plant moving forward?
– John Hugh
We see it as a long marathon of great reward: doing the same thing, building community – just more regularly with more options. We have started Sunday worship on Sunday afternoons at 3:30pm at Place Denfert-Rochereau. We’ll continue to meet mid-week to invite free discussion on big life questions. Soon, we will be starting more intentional groups for growth and discipleship.
We have already seen people stepping up to serve the church plant, to pray for the church plant, to invite people to come visit us on Sunday afternoon or mid-week. As a pastor’s wife, I am incredibly gratified to see other leaders raised up, whether a consistent prayer partner or someone willing to stay late to help clean up. Nothing is more valuable than encouraging others in their faith walk, yet serving together is incredibly heartwarming.
I know the first year of the church plant will require lots of detours, unexpected trials, and fluidity of who comes regularly, but nothing matches the satisfaction of seeing something grow slowly and surely. We are trusting God for much insight, but He has already shown great faithfulness in this church plant that simply started as a prayer 5 years ago.
What are you most thankful for?
I am thankful for so much. I am thankful for our mother church – EIC Paris Rueil Malmaison – for their initial prayers that began 5 years ago. I am thankful for the people at Rueil Malmaison who have treated us like family and for the family of churches including EIC Paris Ternes. We have been supported, welcomed, embraced, and most of all, we have people we can call when we feel lost or confused or frustrated with life in France.
At our first Sunday, I had someone ask me what you need to plant a church in Paris. I answered that you need a local, sending church that believes in you and would be there for you regardless – individually and collectively. We have found that here as a family in EIC Paris.
I am thankful for people, the Christians I have met in our church community in Paris and around Europe, but also the kind-hearted people I have meet in my kids’ schools, in our neighborhood, in our connections with other expats. France, or at least, Paris, is stereotypically known to be a rude place to visit. Perhaps we benefit from living in a lovely suburban city right outside Paris, but I have had few and far between rude encounters.
I am thankful for friends who come to see us. Please think about making a trip to Paris, or stopping by Paris for a long layover on your way to Italy or as a side trip if you visit the United Kingdom. We love to see familiar faces, so keep us on your short list of places to go!
How is English speaking church different in Paris, France?
– John Hugh
Ministry life and church life is upside down from what I’m used to. You don’t have the church trappings of the Bible Belt or where we used to live in Mississippi or most likely found in many parts of the United States. Church life is not an essential part of the social fabric of every day life. Going to church does not give you as much social currency as you can gain in some parts of the United States.
Yet there is a deep interest, curiosity, and connection with those who do come regularly to church or those who we meet and tell them why were are in France. In many ways, that is similar to the common call of ministry around the world, yet the outside trappings are different here. We benefit, and are challenged, by a much more diverse context – very urban, very multilingual, multinational, and very dense – all to bring lots of unexpected opportunity to share the gospel.
I am always amazed how many people are packed into a single block in Paris, France. We are all stacked on top of one another – mostly in the city, but also in the suburbs. With all these people on top of one another, you also have nationalities and cultures squeezed in close proximity. I love how English is a multi-national language, so your circle of friends expands immediately beyond Americans or Brits: it includes Estonians, Mexicans, South Asians, Venezuelans, people from Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Indonesia, and more. These are people I meet in church, but also people outside of church I thoroughly enjoy meeting and sharing my life with.
In contrast to the beautiful, yet very formal liturgy of the numerous French Catholic churches, as evangelical Protestants, we have an opportunity to bring authentic community in a fashion that ensures genuine understanding of the Bible, that grows thankful hearts in tune with our Risen Lord, and embraces the liturgical Christian calendar with less pomp and circumstance. Church life is simpler, but fellowship is greatly cherished amongst Christians in Paris. The community has amazed me with their genuineness and love.
Is there anything you would do different looking back at your initial arrival in August 2021?
– John Hugh
I would have learned more French before arriving – but there’s still time.
I agree 100% with what John Hugh just said above!
What is your greatest need? How can we pray for you?
Pray for the church plant to continue to grow into a genuine, connected community of faith.
Pray for our children, especially our middle child, to find their comfort and community in France.
Consider being a financial partner as we are still in need of small monthly givers for $20/month or $25/month or as you feel led to give.
Pray most of all that our JOY continues to grow as this adventure has stretched us, changed us, and most of all, made us incredibly grateful for all the blessings of a Resurrected Lord.
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