Have you heard the news? French Christians are coming together in unity for the first time in history, Jesus is clearly starting to woo His French bride, and she is responding!
Let me back up by saying that our own marital relationship continues to benefit from the Love After Marriage seminar we attended 2 years ago. Our pastor was asking for our help in this area, but because we knew that entering a marriage ministry is like picking a fight, we didn’t want to push anything in our flesh and be without God’s covering or outside of His timing.
Then when we were given a generous gift by a couple in our church, we knew it was to be used towards going to California last summer to have more extensive contact with the leaders in the ministry. They saw the Holy Spirit highlighting France and agreed to bring the seminar to our region the following spring! In the fall, we started meeting and praying with another couple in our church who have sensed a call to marriages and they experienced the seminar in Switzerland a few months later. It took 4 months for us to find the ideal place to host, house, and feed 30 couples for a week at the lowest possible cost and the bilingual email invitations went out last week to hundreds of couples in England, Belgium, Switzerland and France.
God was clearly in this timing because just 3 weeks ago, people of all faiths from all over France jumped on buses and headed to Paris to demonstrate their solidarity behind God’s definition of marriage and family. Friends who attended said it was well-organized and joyful. There was no hostility or incident the entire day. When one group got too chilled and left, another group would arrive to take their place. Attendance estimates ranged from 400,000 by antagonistic journalists to 1 million by those that took into account continual arrivals throughout the day. Here’s a 3 min. video summary.
Our new liberal government still seems determined to make France the 12th country to give marriage status to homosexuals, but this quickly leads to surrogacy and adoption issues that alarm the majority of the population due to historically strong traditional Catholic family values. (Surrogate parenting is still illegal here except for married couples.) French psychiatrists, who enjoy a revered status, also support a child’s need for a mother and father, so the reaction is more out of concern for the well-being of children rather than against homosexual rights.
We believe that Christians can only have a voice on this issue if their own marriages and families are a light and a testimony. And that is why the timing of these events is so beautiful: the state of families is on everyone’s mind and living out a joyful marriage covenant will affect the spiritual atmosphere over a nation far more than a demonstration! Have you kissed your spouse today? So we are moving forward on seminar organization with confidence with intercessors covering our backs!
At the same time, we are starting to see houses of prayer and worship (HOPs) spring up at an increased rate in our corner of Europe. This also highlights marriage and the bridal paradigm in the Bible because it is here that spiritual intimacy is developed through quality time set apart to focus solely on the beauty of the Lord. European believers are seeing the urgency of the times and responding by worshipping more, striving less, and watching God fight our battles for us. (An excellent book on this topic is called Bridal Intercession by Gary Wiens.)
Our church has focused more on a monthly tabernacle of extended worship, but after we gave our pastoral couple a book we read 6 years ago called Praying the Bible, translated into French just last year, (another confirmation!) they have jumped on board. We now have the church open for an additional 8 hours during the week so that people can come to be in His presence.
To add more fuel to the fire, our body will also be welcoming back a French Swiss family in May who sold all to spend 2 years at IHOP in Kansas City. Their emails report that they (with their 5 kids) have gone from being dry and overworked church and Christian school leaders to being completely filled up and passionate for Jesus alone, ready to come back as missionaries to their home continent.
Have you kissed the Son today?