France is the largest country in Western Europe. Its wines and cheeses are known throughout the world, but modern France also has a strong engineering and manufacturing base. One of the founding members of what has become the European Union, France continues to influence events worldwide through its place on the UN Security Council and its strong links with former French colonies.
68% of the population (over 60 million) describe themselves as Catholics, but church attendance has dropped dramatically. At the height of the Reformation, 48% of the population was Protestant, but that figure has dwindled to 2% today, partly through persecution of the Huguenots in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The small evangelical church is sadly divided into many denominations. Growth has been slow but steady since the war.
Over 43 million French people have no real link with a Christian church and only 5% of the population owns a Bible. Intellectualism, individualism and occultism are strong barriers to the Gospel. Many ethnic minorities are largely unreached, notably the large North African and Jewish communities.
OAC has worked in France since the 1960’s but it was not until February 1989 that a British couple moved to the country to live and seek to establish an OAC ministry in the country. They set about making connections with French churches and other missionary organisations. From the start the aim was not just to simply evangelise but to train French churches and individuals to evangelise. The original OAC team have now become involved in other forms of ministry. However before this, back in 1989, they were joined by Peter Kent who continues to live and minister in Paris up to the present day. He is engaged with training churches in different part of the country and many times a week evangelising on the streets of Paris. For the past 10 years Peter has organised and led a week-long street evangelism mission during the world-famous theatre festival in Avignon.
In 2014 Peter and Alison Kennelly from OAC GB responded to a call from the Lord to commence a five-year OAC ministry. After nine months of language learning in Paris they moved to Bordeaux to work. Amongst other things they are engaged in street outreaches, training and encouraging individual French Christians in evangelism. They also visit other smaller local towns regularly in order to evangelise in places where little evangelism has been done.