06/18/16

More Observations from our Intern

Kevin returns to describe a bit more of his experience at the Prayer Conference…

Over the last couple of days we’ve taken in a large variety of information that affected many emotions and feelings. It has been a long week and we have taken in a ton of information about France, the spiritual environment and the specific church plants. Although we were exhausted we were just as attentive as day one because each church plant is just as important as the other.

Our first stop was in the village of Chevreuse. The Barrs have a very different ministry that connects with French people deeply. Russell is a potter and graphic arts designer. Carol is an artist and teacher in her own right. Because of their arts background they have been holding art classes in their home for children. Additionally they have been teaching English lessons using the Bible for discussion. The French children and families have responded extremely well to this combination and their classes have outgrown their current space.

The second church plant that we visited is in a new, upper middle class town (Montigny-Les-Bretonneux) that includes the largest business district outside of Paris proper. The whole dynamic and atmosphere of this town is completely different from the narrow, old, and hectic atmosphere of Paris. The Manu and the Plasters have been building relationships and making contacts in several ways, including asking to pray for various strangers in the streets, and playing Christian music in a local bar. It is phenomenal how willing the World Team workers are to make themselves vulnerable in order to connect with the French.

Finally we visited another group ministering in a Muslim community outside of Paris. All of the church plants have their challenges but the additional challenge of penetrating the barrier of Islam made this stop an especially heart-warming one.

The diversity yet laser focus of World Team’s work in France is remarkable. Lasers are in focus and the same size no matter how close or far away from the surface they are directed. Although the team have to site and aim at targets of differing distances or different terrains, they all use the same laser focus of multiplying disciples and communities of believers. Please pray that God will do amazing things and work out all of the details for the teams to keep pursuing that simple, powerful purpose!

05/13/16

Moving Towards the Potter’s House

It’s been nearly three years since the Barrs arrived and launched themselves head-first into an impressive undertaking. They immediately set up a community association for teaching English and art classes to children and adults out of a restored storefront in the village of Chevreuse.

Read more about those beginnings here and here.

Since then, they’ve established a significant presence in town. Their classes have progressively expanded including conversational classes for adults; they’ve begun a monthly film gathering that not only shows classic American movies but also prompts spiritual conversations; they’ve started two different weekly Bible study opportunities; they were able to welcome an intern for a year to help with teaching. Several contacts from these events have become regular attendees at the nearby Magny church. During this time, the Barrs were also able to raise enough support to make the transition from mid-term missionaries to career missionaries, enabling them to stay in France long-term.

With that transition in mind, and never content to stay still for too long, they’ve developed the next phase of their plan. While continuing the art and English classes out of the current location with the help of interns and short-term workers, they’d like to find a larger location that would allow for expansion.

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One primary goal would be finding a space large enough to allow Russell to finally get back to his first love: practicing and teaching pottery. That’s why the name of this next phase will be The Potters House (or Chez le Potier in French). Other activities would also be allowed to grow and expand, allowing more short-term workers to be involved and the outreach to continue in a new community.

At this point in time, two things are happening: recruiting interns and short-term workers to teach English and art while looking for a new location.

If you or someone you know is interested in teaching art and English as a second language, this could be a great opportunity. It is a unique means to interact with a community and share the light and love of Christ with them in a natural way. Get in touch with us for more details.

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03/23/16

Paris team welcomes interns from Germany

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Two weeks ago the team in Paris hosted an internship for some German bible school students. Every other day they got to be together for trainings, meals, prayer & devotions, and outreach. They got to experience “simple church” with the team one Sunday morning (what it looks like when you’re just a handful of people in someone’s living room). And they got to meet several other teammates from the larger team in France at an informal “Apéro,” getting a bigger picture of the different ministries and projects of World Team France.

The goal for these interns was to experience ministry in the city. So each afternoon they were sent out.

  • One day, they used their maps to explore the area praying as they went.
  • The next afternoon, they were given some money and were told to be creative, go and bless people with it. This project was a challenge as they saw how suspicious people are of accepting anything from a stranger, even if it’s a good thing.
  • The other two days together, they gathered information through doing surveys and passing out invitations to an event on Friday night called “Apéro Théo.” It was the first time the Paris team hosted such an event and some valuable lessons were learned (confirming things already suspected) : people in Paris are not likely to come to an event (especially a religious one) if they don’t know someone who’s there. But it remained a good experience for all involved, providing a more accurate reading on the spiritual pulse (of lack thereof) in the neighborhood. Each participant gained more confidence in approaching and talking to people.

The Paris team was so thankful to have had the chance to spend a week with these students. They were a great team and it was a privilege to invest in one another’s lives while loving the people of Paris together.

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07/7/15

Introducing Elizabeth the intern!

One of the three interns that helped at the Paris Prayer Conference came (really) early and is staying (really) late, and we’re glad to have her. Her extended internship that started in February will continue until the end of the year and will involve a wide variety of experiences. We asked her a few questions to learn more…

11078089_1555245621422848_3353879695084868363_oWho is Elizabeth and how did she end up in France ?

I am an Iowan–turned Russian–turned North Carolinian…or just a third culture kid for short. I attended Covenant College as an Art major and Sociology minor and graduated last year. Becoming an art therapist has been a dream of mine for the past several years, but I wanted to take some time off before going to grad school. The Lord worked it out for me to spend some time in France and I am so glad that he did!

What have your primary responsibilities been so far ?

My main focus during my time here has been teaching English and art classes. I teach children ages 5-12 how to improve their English while exploring art concepts through drawing, painting, and working with clay. I am loving the creative challenge of teaching and trying to adapt each class to be age appropriate. Generally the classes are 1 hour: 30 minutess focused on English and 30 minutes focused on art.

I’ve enjoyed being a part of other France VIE ministry projects too! I helped out with childcare for an Alpha Course for married couples. I’m also on the team for the GospelCafé.

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What’s been your biggest surprise ?

I knew I would learn quite a bit about French culture, but I didn’t expect to learn so much about American culture too! Comparing the two cultures has made me see more about my “home” culture that I hadn’t seen before. For instance, greetings. In France, the common way to greet another person is to exchange “bises” (kisses on each cheek). This takes some getting used to for Americans, because kisses are generally a more intimate form of physical affection. Ironically, we would be more comfortable with a quick hug, while that would be very uncomfortable for a French person because hugs are more intimate. As one of the missionaries here told me, “its not weird, its just different!”

What’s been your favorite discovery ?

Tea Lichou! Its a teashop in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris. If I were to open up my own teashop, it would be like this one. It had really good food, great tea, but most importantly, it had swings! There were little bench swings in front of one of the tables.  I went there with the interns from the Prayer Conference and we loved swinging as we drank tea and ate warmed chocolate chip cookies. And the ceiling was covered in pages from children’s books!

What’s something God has been teaching you ?

I’ve been learning so much during my time here! As an MK, I feel like I’m pretty culturally aware. Because I’m so culturally aware, however, I see more opportunities for how I can be culturally “wrong” and it is paralyzing. The Lord has been teaching me about finding security in Him and not pleasing the people around me. Being culturally sensitive is important, but the bottom line is that I’m not French. I just can’t blend into a culture right away. I’ve been learning that my uniqueness is actually something to be celebrated.

06/11/15

Thanks, Damascus Road

It was a full schedule for our musical interns, Damascus Road. Two concerts, helping with worship at three church services, music at a regional youth event, a jam session with other worship leaders, a workshop for children, playing in the streets, and observation of different church planting efforts…not to mention navigating a foreign culture, speaking a foreign language, driving on foreign streets! All that packed into just a little more than two weeks!

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Some events encouraged fellow believers. Other events gave opportunities for church planting teams to make connections with new people. And at every event, we had a great time. It was easy to do with these guys. The response was overwhelmingly positive by all who interacted with the group and it was clear that God was helping them despite moments of sickness, stress, frustration, and weakness.

Pray for these seven as they move on to other things this summer and head back to school in the fall, all the while trying to discern what God has in store for their future.

With those interns gone, we focus our attention to a new internship that begins today. Three young women have arrived to help guide participants of the Paris Prayer Conference. They’ll have extra opportunities to observe our work up close, as well as mentoring sessions to help them process their experiences.