International President Rob George reports from the Avignon Festival, Southern Europe’s leading summer cultural/ arts festival.
Recent events over the past few years in France are reflected by the barricades on the streets and the many groups of police and soldiers, armed to the teeth, wandering the streets in groups of at least 4, sometime as many as 8. Does it make us feel safe? Or worried that they think it is necessary?
Our first night on the main street in Avignon was very busy, very noisy, with buskers every 10 metres and thousands of people. Despite the competition, we had several good meetings and conversations.
Just 2 stories, amongst many, from the first night:
An older Muslim man asked French volunteer Paul for a drink, Paul answered, “I don’t have a drink but I can give you living water.” Paul gave him a New Testament!
A young lady approached me as I was preparing the board to preach. I referred her to Paul who answered her immediate question, “What were we doing?” Paul asked her to wait and see. She stayed throughout my message (translated by Peter Kennelly) and spoke with Paul for some time again afterwards. She, too, went away with a NT.
Avignon was a good week, not always easy with so much noise and distraction on the streets, but many heard the Word, both preached and shared individually, with some good response. The weather was great and we were not interrupted at all by that.
Rob and Gayle
More about the photos
Top Photo: Peter Kennelly in action. Having been here near 5 years now, Peter’s French is very good. Peter Kent holding the board.
Photo 1: The centre of Avignon is surrounded by medieval walls.
Photo 2: Peter Kennelly combining the chemical cross object lesson with a sketchboard message. You can see the busy street in the background of this photo.
Photo 3: Rob is using an object lesson and the French flag on the board this night. Peter Kennelly translating.
Photo 4: Peter Kent shares his board message with just 2 girls (the guy at the back did not stay long) who listened carefully despite the noisy buskers with a large crowd right beside us. There are always at least a few listening, and if we can time it right for the breaks between the buskers, we get reasonable crowds.
Photo 5: Volunteer Paul preaching. Two young Muslim guys came in close to the board whilst loud break-dancers nearby did their thing. The rest are team members. The young guys left with a tract in both French and Arabic.
Photos 7 and 9: Fortunately in was a bit quieter when I preached, translated by Peter Kennelly. Peter Kent is holding the board again. Is it work, when I love it so much?!
Photos 6, 8, 10 to 14: I could include many of these types of photos. The team members always have conversations both during the board preparations and after the preaching. Of course, some conversations go much further than others. Two of these team members are Brits, who both speak fluent French.
Photo 13: Gayle was left holding the baby whilst Mum Marie (white shirt) shares. Marie has been coming for many years to Avignon, and each year witnesses to the lady hotel manager where we stay. Last year the manager made a profession of faith!
Photo 14: On the very right of this photo is Fatima (Fafa) a local church member we had met just that morning at church. You are seeing a Divine Appointment right there, not to mention the others. Having just met Fafa, this was her first night with us. Unbeknown to us, she has an Algerian background, and the folk she is sharing with came from Algeria. Fafa spoke to them in their heart language!
Photo 15: Marie has the most amazing smile! Baby Marius is being trained to hand out tracts!
Photo 16: This was Sunday night after France had won the soccer World Cup, hence the flags on the ladies’ faces. Earlier the road had been absolutely heaving with flag-waving, cheering, hooting, National Anthem singing people! Mum Marie, our effervescent French team member, helps Gayle even when she is tending to the baby.
Rob and Gayle