France is more than a secular country: it takes pride in being “laïc”, a word which means that the State and religion are separate affairs; and this is part of the Constitution. We could say that the major belief in France is agnosticism. Evangelical Christians are a tiny minority, less than 1%.
Les Groupes Bibliques Universitaires, the French IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) movement, started in 1943 and is now the biggest Christian student movement, with 80 groups running every week in most university cities in France. GBU France aims at making the Gospel known on French campuses, as well as training Christian students to be mature in their faith and able to serve in their local churches. Every group has one or several student leaders who run Bible studies, organize events and share the Good News of Jesus-Christ with their friends.
Over the last 15 years the movement has considerably grown and one good indicator is the number of French staff workers helping students to be witnesses on their campuses. In the early 2000s, there was the only French staff worker. We now have about 15 to 20 French staff workers ! We are thankful to God, to the people who have been praying and we are also thankful for our training program, Relay, which has trained 10 of them in the last 15 years. This program has also helped the wider Church – former trainees are now pastors in France.
“Relay” gives the opportunity for 4 students a year to taste what full-time ministry is. During the year, they get to study theology and participate in more practical activities of student ministry; such as 1 to 1 Bible reading, evangelism, teaching, organizing events, and fundraising.
A Relay year costs 10 000€ a year. Our Relay workers are asked to raise 40% (year 1) or 80% (year 2) of this amount. Unfortunately, this is not enough to keep the Relay program running for the years to come. Since the number of French evangelical Christians is low, we find raising support in France difficult – whether that be for our staff workers or our Relay program.
Would you help us to provide GBU France with new staff workers and churches with trained leaders?