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French wars

A growing evangelical revival comes to Gaul

French wars

(Photo by Mehdi Fedouach/AFP/Getty Images)

OBienvenue sur le site internet de l'Eglise de Paris Bastille. . . . Vous trouverez nos cultes expressifs, ouverts à chacun, et plus important, remplis de la présence du Seigneur. Notre but est de glorifier Dieu dans nos réunions et de rencontrer votre besoin avec Sa Parole. Notre Eglise est diverse par l'âge, l'origine ethnique et sociale, pourtant nous sommes unis par l'amour de Jésus Christ notre Sauveur. . . . Il n'y a pas de meilleure vie qu'une vie basée sur la Parole de Dieu. . . ."

I was so excited that I just wanted you to hear it in the French. Translation:

"Welcome to the internet site of the Church of Paris Bastille. . . . You will find our worship services expressive, open to all, and, most importantly, full of the presence of the Lord. Our goal is to glorify God in our meetings and to meet your need with his Word. Our church is diverse in age and ethnic and social origin, but we are united by love for Jesus Christ our Savior. . . . There is no better life than a life based on the Word of God."

I've been praying for a pastor named Jean Christof Bieselaar since I first met him at the seminary café. It's on automatic now. If revival were to happen in his Paris arrondissement, I would be as stunned as Rhoda finding Peter at the door of the house church prayer meeting. France, we are told, chews up and spits out missionaries, over a fine Chateauneuf-du-Pape. But it would appear that, as in the case of Mark Twain, Gaul's obituary has been published prematurely.

The British Guardian reported on Nov. 6 that the congregation of Paris-Bastille is "one of a growing number of evangelical communities spreading through France" ("For Secular and Catholic France, a Shock to the System: the Rise of the Evangelicals"). This is not the 2 million souls (compared to 16 million Catholics) of the Huguenot peak in 1572 before the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. Nevertheless, 450,000 to 500,000 is encouraging compared to the postwar evangelical population of 50,000. Pastor Jean Lefillatre's congregation alone has swelled from 250 to 400 in three years.

The Guardian continues: "The gradual emergence of evangelicals as a force has, therefore, raised eyebrows, with some critics questioning whether their beliefs are compatible with the values of a secular republic. Not only are they known in France for speaking in tongues, 'born again' conversions, and a zeal denounced by some as manipulative proselytism, they are associated in many minds with the politically powerful movement of the U.S. religious right." In other words, the usual variety of reactions to a work of God: confusion (Acts 2:6), amazement (verse 7), perplexity (verse 12), and mocking (verse 13).

But in 2005 the Guardian also noted a different spiritual trend: "French youths fired at police and burned over 300 cars last night as towns around Paris experienced their worst night of violence in a week of urban unrest." No one at the Guardian identified it as "spiritual," or dared breathe the word "Muslim." But as Mark Steyn wrote in America Alone, the car torchers were not your average Pierres, Jacques, Marcels, and Alphonses. Nine of every 29 youths in France's urban centers are Muslim: "Today, a fearless Muslim advance has penetrated far deeper into Europe than Abd-al-Rahman" (the Moorish general who came close to taking Paris in 732).

So these are "the best of times, the worst of times." The contest is on for the soul of France. And we may as well say it-for America too. Steyn observes that "when you raise a generation in the great wobbling blancmange of cultural relativism, a certain percentage of its youth will have a great gaping hole where their sense of identity should be. And into that hole you can pour something primal and raging."

The book of Revelation suggests that at the end of history, shades of gray will disappear, and it will be all primal and raging. "Then the Dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 12:17). Do not look for the extinction of the Huguenots a second time.

Not on my watch-say Pastors Lefillatre and Bieselaar.

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