As we continued to feel God's calling on our hearts, we started to look into what it would take to answer that call and move to France. Initially we looked at moving to Alsace as "tentmakers" (i.e., getting a job). We would do ministry as a "side job" and wouldn't have to worry about the issues of raising support and other logistical challenges. The more we thought and prayed about this, though, the more we realized this wouldn't work for us, for several reasons. First, it is very difficult for non-EU citizens to procure jobs in France. Second, right now, in the USA, we have seen the challenge of trying to have full-time jobs, raise a family, and find time to do ministry in addition, and we barely made it work. We knew that the way forward would not be to repeat the same challenges but in a new country, with a new language, in a new culture. After talking to a pastor who had served in Europe, we realized that we needed to find a missions organization to act as our sending agency to get us to France.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)
Global Outreach Mission
After much searching and prayer, we found an organization that, we feel, will give us the freedom and support we need to follow God's call. The organization is called Global Outreach Mission. Most missions organizations either want you to be members of a specific denomination or have their own missions they want to staff. Since we are looking to do work with a specific Vineyard church, our options for a sending agency became very few, very quickly.
But a missions organization is only part of the process. We also need to learn the language. Everyone in France agrees that the only way to be effective in ministry in France is to know the language. Learning French gives us greater credibility and easier communication with the locals. France is actually one of the countries in Europe that has the lowest English speaking rates. When we've visited, we've found that a good number of the people we have encountered speak little to no English.
Kristy has a good foundation already after minoring in French in college, but Rob doesn't have nearly as much knowledge. He took 2.5 years in middle school, followed by a gap of many years (we won't say how many), and then 6 months of an adult education French class in 2016. So he has a longer way to go. To help get a jump-start, we are both currently enrolled in year-long online French classes. But before we land in Mulhouse, we plan to spend a year in an intensive, Christian language school in Albertville, France.
Centre Chrétien d'Enseignement du Français
Based in the middle of the French Alps, the Centre Chrétien d'Enseignement du Français has been teaching French to missionaries for almost 50 years and has been highly recommended to us by many people with whom we've spoken. They have a live-in program that would immerse us in the language and culture of France. Living in that kind of an environment will get us up to speed quickly on the language and give us a great starting point for when we move to Mulhouse.
The school also has a relationship with the local schools, so our kids would be able to attend classes there and actually get instruction in both English and French. This would give them a great introduction and starting point as they transition languages as well.
To be truly effective in ministry, we can't be distracted from our primary mission: reaching the lost with the love of Christ. This need—to be focused on the ministry—is why we knew we couldn't go over as "tentmakers", getting a full-time job to pay the bills and trying to do ministry in our spare time. But focusing solely on ministry means that we need to find another means of income. In order for us to follow God's call on our lives, we need to raise the funds to be able to go.
The Bible has many examples of the church and its members giving financial and other support to send believers out to spread the gospel. Jesus sent out 72 of his followers in Luke 10 with the instructions not to "take a purse or bag or sandals" but rely entirely on the gifts and generosity of the people they meet and to whom they minister. In the same way, we are looking for people whom are interested in joining our support team in prayer and financial support to help us follow God's call on our lives. If you're interested in joining our team, join our mailing list and we would love to get in touch with you to tell you more about what God is doing in France.