Sharing the Good News in France
The field of France was opened in 1966 for Free Will Baptists. The first work was started in the city of Nantes in the western part of the country. Works were also started in the cities of St. Nazaire and Lorient.
In June of 1970 missionaries began a ministry in Rennes, France. By 1974 that congregation was ready to buy land for a building. Today it is under national leadership.
Currently, seven couples and two single missionaries are laboring in France. Mission churches have been established in Nantes, Rennes, St. Nazaire and St. Sebastien. Additional efforts are focused on reaching France’s large immigrant population. In 2010, a new church plant was begun in the city of Chateaubriant. FWB missionaries are also having an effective evangelistic and discipleship ministry to the youth of France though J'y Crois conferences and other outreaches.
Geography and Climate
France is the largest nation in Western Europe with a land area in excess of 220,000 square miles. Much of the country (approximately two-thirds) is flat or gently rolling. The other one-third has a mountainous terrain. The Mediterranean Sea lies to the south of France and the North Atlantic Ocean lies to the west. France has major seaports on each of these bodies of water as well as on the English Channel. Western France, where our work is centered, enjoys mild winters and cool summers. Eastern France is subject to a wider range of temperatures.
France has a population of almost 66 million. Seventy-nine percent of these people live in urban areas. Approximately 20 percent of all Frenchmen live in Paris, the nation's capital.
About nine percent of France's population is comprised of immigrants. These come from North Africa, other countries in Europe, Asia, and West Africa.
France is also the home of Europe's largest Jewish community.
France has been called one of the world's most cultured and sophisticated nations (the literacy rate is 98 percent). Unfortunately, it is also one of the world's most secularized countries.
Although freedom of religion is guaranteed, few evangelical churches are to be found. Out of 38,000 towns and villages only approximately 3,000 Protestant congregations can be found in the country. Few people, whether Catholic or Protestant, attend church.
Intellectualism, rationalism, humanism, relativism, widespread involvement in the occult, individualism, and a nodding acquaintance with institutional Catholicism are barriers our missionaries must scale.
Free Will Baptist Ministries
Missionaries have maintained an effective ministry among university students in Rennes and Nantes. English Bible studies have provided an open door to reach students from various countries. Many students have been converted and have returned to their own countries to witness to their people.
FWBs opened a Christian bookstore in the city of Nantes in 2003. It has offered opportunities to share the gospel as well as provide area Christians with Bibles and encouraging, accurate Christian literature.
Some missionaries have received training in the Leadership Matters Course, enabling them to better equip national leaders for ministry. Family ministries have been instrumental in producing evangelistic opportunities. Evangelistic literature has been widely distributed by missionaries and church members.
Statistics gathered from The World Factbook and Joshua Project.