Enjoy this thoughtful recap from Nicole, the team leader of the Tour de FranceVIE 2017…
My goal for the Tour de FranceVIE was to invest in and train 14 students over the course of a semester so that when we arrived in France to do ministry, it would not be my doing, but theirs. So that it would not be a trip about me and my ministry, but about what God was able to do through our team.
My desire was for each of my teammates to feel fully equipped by the Lord to do ministry—to feel confident in His ability to work through them and through their prayers. This desire was rooted in the hope that they would get to experience Him working through them to love on people of another culture.
The Lord fulfilled these desires above and beyond my expectations. From the moment we were reunited in the Philly airport, our team was ready to roll. The first few days in France, we stayed at a tiny campground in a village called Senots. We were staying in mobile homes, and the missionaries traveled out to join us for orientation and Bible study each day.
Then came our first day of biking. We were traveling about 10 miles to Gisors. There, we visited a French church plant in this old, catholic village. We were able to enjoy lunch while learning from the French pastors—and we heard powerful testimonies from two of the individuals from their church. We prayed over them and their church as a team. It was a truly powerful experience.
When we took off that morning, one of our teammates became sick to her stomach within the first mile. As we had a car following us, I offered to her that she could ride in the car with her bike, but she was determined to keep going. In that same mile, her bike broke. So, she ended up having to ride in the car. It was very disheartening. At the end of the day, when it was time to bike back to the campsite, we had fixed the bike and she was determined to join us, but the issues persisted. It became unsafe for her to continue riding with us. So I asked her to ride in the car. She and I were both in tears, as it was really hard for her to have to miss out.
I turned to her and explained that Satan wants to make her think this is a big deal, but it is not. We were not in France for the purpose of biking, but to do ministry, and riding in the car would not inhibit her ability to love on our team and other people – that is exactly why we have the car in the first place. I told her that she had the power through Christ to choose how to respond to this situation, and that I needed her, for the sake of herself and the team, to choose to not let this bother her.
The entire bike ride back, my heart was broken for her. But as soon as we got back to camp, she did not look the same. She was obviously changed as her face was lit and she was full of joy. As we had our group time that evening, she shared so many encouraging insights and reflections from the day. She also offered to pray for the team – an incredibly encouraging prayer.
The next day, she had to continue riding in the car, as we biked another 10 or 15 miles to Meru. As I watched her throughout the day interact with missionaries and her teammates, I cried tears of joy. She was such an incredible blessing to our team. She was the first person to encourage anyone struggling to bike, even though she was unable. When tires went flat and other complications occurred, she jumped out of the car to help. At our sites, she took on extra acts of service in order to make things easier for those who were tired from biking.
We shared time with a number of missionaries, both those experienced and those new. We heard testimonies of God’s goodness – of a woman who miraculously came to Christ from a Muslim family and of God’s providence for the missionaries. We prayed and we praised. And we also got to spend time having conversations with people and playing with children at a nearby park.
When we returned to our campsite that evening, she (the same teammate who had been unable to bike) walked into the kitchen while I was cooking dinner. I turned to her, and I said, “Do you know that I have never seen you be this joyful?” She responded, “I kinda feel different…” I said, “You LOOK different…What happened?” She explained that she had never quite realized the power and importance of being intentional about how she responded to situations before. Also, she shared she had never been this comfortable around a group of people before (our team) in order to see and feel Jesus working through them.
This is the epitome of what I love about our team. We are family. We love each other. And the Lord was at work in us. This is just one of many life-changing stories that we have from the trip, as this girl was permanently changed by the face of Jesus.
At the close of our time, we PRAISED God for proving Himself good again and again and for all of the wonderful and insightful experiences we had during the Tour de FranceVIE 2017!