Why would we still move to Paris in this time? There are several reasons. Here are three important for us.
We believe people are called. A person can be called to several things and places in life. I believe we were called back to Mississippi for a season. People can be engaged in a variety of professions or they might be called to only one. I do believe Christians are called to certain places at certain times. We’ve felt a sense of call to Paris for some time. How did this call come about?
First, the timing has to be right. One can feel a call to a place, yet there may not be an open door to go at that time. This doesn’t relinquish the call; it only forces one to be patient. We initially felt called to pastor and plant again several years ago. But there was no door open for us. Therefore, we remained faithful and diligent where we were. Two years ago, we first saw and felt an opportunity in Paris. We moved into this possibility to sense if it was a true call. This took time to go, meet with people, pray, and see if there was validation from others.
In the spring of 2019, the door opened more. We began a six month process of conversations, interviews, and assessments. These led to a concrete call to come to Paris, to be part of a family of international English speaking churches in global cities, and to plant a new church. The timing, relationships, affinity for the place, and ability to plant there all lined up.
For us, we have steadily felt God leading us to Paris. We believe wherever God leads, He begins to open doors and clarify the call. Then it’s up to us to walk the walk – through the doors and accept the call. We feel like we are walking through that door and will continue to do so. Therefore, we feel a strong sense of call to Paris, the people we will partner with, and the others we will engage with.
Where there is a call, there is also a need. Please know, needs are everywhere: on our streets, in our schools, in our cities, and around the world. I personally believe there is a need for churches everywhere. In certain places, the number of churches are much fewer. Such is the case in different parts of the US and in countries where Christian gatherings are not promoted or even frowned upon. In Europe there is a need, as Christians and churches are few. These numbers are growing, yet the culture is less receptive, even antagonistic, towards Christianity. We explored possibilities in Italy and Denmark before being led to Paris.
Many needs are present and amplified in Paris. As a diverse, international city, there are class and racial distinctions, there is economic disparity, and there are spiritual needs. For us, the spiritual needs are most important & speak into all the other needs. People look to pleasure and prosperity to fill them – those ultimately will not. The French have a profound love and gifting for art, for food, for gathering, for nature, and for culture that are admirable around the world. Even amongst the manifest gifts they inhabit, many can still have a void, a spiritual one, that remains empty. Internationals in Paris can live for the good life, the free life, and the fun life, believing these will meet all their needs for purpose. They will not. To love people well and to help people see voids that can be filled with great purpose is the task before us as we move to Paris to gather people and start a new church.
How are we equipped to meet this place of need? We believe where God calls, He equips. Our family has an international background with a foundation for the French language and living in France. We feel an affinity for this place, a curiosity for the culture, and a love for the language, the city, and its residents. We desire to meet the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional needs of internationals, students, and people of differing faith backgrounds.
Do we know everything? No. Nor will we pretend to do so. Are we aware of the challenges this move places on our family and the inevitable culture shock to follow? Yes. We have begun to feel this already and know it will only grow as we progress. We are not overly confident, yet we are not easily intimidated. We feel a healthy degree of maturity, pause, and trust to begin this process while maintaining teachable hearts. With what we do not know and when we will be overwhelmed, we rest in a clear call, affirmation from others, and the conviction we will walk through doors God opens for us. And we plan to do so.
Then there is the commitment we’ve made, which we do not take lightly. We desire to live with integrity and authenticity. By integrity, we mean that ministry leaders and a growing group of 200 partners have committed to us and we’ve responded with commitment to them. By authenticity, we are open about challenges near and far.
Challenges are already present. Where will we live? What will school be like for our three boys? Will there be school to go to or will be have to homeschool initially? When will we get a visa? How will this affect our financial support? When should we sell our house?
There are challenges ahead we can’t yet see. What will the post-Covid 19 landscape be like in Europe, in Paris? How will COVID-19 affect our family life transitioning into Paris and Paris daily life in general? All of us have a craving for certainty. Does the inability to have answers diminish our commitment? Our answer is no.
Like many, I’ve enjoyed and been enriched by JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. In it, there is a scene where Frodo, who’s been entrusted the great task of destroying the ring of power, confesses to his mentor Gandalf: “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
In this season, many around the world could say the same: we have to decide what to do with the time that is given to us. Much is out of our control, more than we may want to acknowledge. Yet we can control what to do in the time we’ve been given. We desire to make our time matter with the call we have and the needs in our sight.
Commitment can take you a long way. Ask any marriage, any special needs parent, any pioneer, any successful athlete, any veteran. Retired Navy SEAL Admiral Bill McRaven alluded to commitment when asked how one became a SEAL: “It (SEAL training) doesn’t have a lot to do with how big and how strong and how fast you are. There’s only one thing you have to do in SEAL training. And that’s not quit.” We aren’t training to be Navy Seals, but we embody the spirit by saying we are not quitting. We are just getting started. We look forward to the challenge.
THANKS FOR READING!
ARE YOU STILL MOVING? YES…
Yes, we are still planning to move to Paris this summer 2020. Thank you to our partners so far! If you are interested in partnering, please join us in our journey today.
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