The Gibbs’ have been on the mission field for 34 years and at 23 were the youngest Free Will Baptist missionaries to go the field. Barbara reminded us that missionaries are human like anyone else except they were obedient and answered the call to France stating that nothing is better than being in the center of God’s will.
Jerry showed a video of interviews with the French people. These were not set up interviews, but real on-the-spot questions and answers. The people were asked what does Jesus mean to you? Jerry reminded us that French attitudes are not like ours toward God. A French leader stated that the French are a society that has chosen to live without God. The answer most given was nothing; Jesus meant nothing to them.
The Gibbs sang a beautiful chorus written by someone in their church in France. It was first sang in French and then English. The words are as follows: Oh, Lord, my God, I offer you my heart. May all my life be fully set apart. Come touch my thoughts, my will, my days. May my whole live be one of praise. Oh, Lord, my God, I offer you my heart.
The need for missionaries in France was given by this example. Imagine Smyth County, with it’s 30,000 population having only one other church than ours. Now imagine that with 70,000 people. In those circumstances we were asked how we would reach the people if it were our county. Answers were the normal–people we work with, see everyday, or with kids. We were reminded that one of our ways is our upcoming Easter program/play on Good Friday.
The people in France look like us; they dress like us. However, they do not think or believe like we do. Only 1/2 of 1% know Christ as Savior. It’s estimated that 10 million people consult fortune tellers. They know God as only a God of wrath; how can they be shown the loving God we know? They tried the traditional ways of sending out letters, putting up notices, etc and got very little response. Here are some innovative ways they are getting the message of Christ to the people.
Music is very important to their culture and musical events put them in a non-threatening situation where they can meet Christians and see we are not weird. Christians can have fun and not drink and party. They cannot give our tracts or preach, but they can sing. The choir sings in shopping malls at Christmas. For three years they have done a live nativity. This has been very successful. They offer hot chocolate to the visitors and give tours of the church. Most have never entered a Protestant church. There are 36,000 towns and villages who have never heard of God’s amazing grace. It has been said that no one should hear the gospel twice until everyone has heard it once.
Pray for Jerry and Barbara as they seek continued support so that they can return in May. With the value of the dollar decreasing it takes much more to live in France right now. The church has preachers filling in for him, but they have no pastor. Their desire is to return as soon as possible.