Feature

What Makes Us TIC

Change is always just around the Corner

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At Toulouse International Church (TIC), you will find a group of 100 people meeting at 10:30 on a Sunday morning for the English service led by my husband, Andrew. In many ways it is a typical service with music, preaching of the Word, Sunday school and a coffee/fellowship time.

If you attend, you may sing a song, hear a Scripture read or overhear a conversation in French. After all, this is our host country, and we are encouraging our English-speaking people to reach out to French neighbors and coworkers. You may also hear a conversation in Dutch, German or Afrikaans, to name a few.

At 4:30 p.m. the church becomes busy again, this time with French as the predominate language. Brad and Tina Reynolds, our coworkers, pastor this small group of 22 people. It is our prayer that it will soon become a full-fledged French church.

Later, at 6:30, the church bustles again as our French congregation finishes and our youth begin to arrive. A group of 15–20 young people meet on Sunday evening, led by an Irish parent in the church and Andrew. The group is a mixture of English and French speakers, so many parts of the evening are done bilingually. This has been a place of training for our French stagiere (Bible school student) so that we can participate in preparing future workers in France.

There are many ministries during the week. On Monday home groups give people a place to interact in an intimate setting. On Tuesday morning 15–25 ladies meet for Bible study and prayer. In the evening, an English conversation class has been a great source for making contacts in the community. Wednesday is set aside for a Christianity Explored course for seekers. And on Thursday a men’s prayer breakfast is held early in the morning, followed by a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group (the first in France).

Everything Changes

The nature of TIC is change. Due to work contracts, people may be in Toulouse anywhere from one to five years. Each July we say goodbye to at least one family (last year it was four families; this year, six). Sometimes the family members have been a vital part of the church’s ministry, and it is with a great sense of loss that we see them leave.

But soon after their departure, we begin to see unfamiliar faces appearing as new families find us. People who have gone back home and return for a visit, even a few months later, are always amazed at how TIC has changed in such a short time.

How do we cope? First, TIC has a solid core of evangelical British Christians, who have moved to France to work or have retired here. We also have Americans, as well as other nationalities, who are married to French people and want to worship in English. Second, our association with the French C&MA national church (AECM) keeps us focused on evangelism, church planting and accountability.

Because many foreign men come to France to work with Airbus or other related companies, their wives are left to “find their way” in a new culture and often feel lonely. Some of these women have a desire to seek spiritual encouragement, and we are trying to find creative ways to reach out to them. Over the past three years, we have seen some come to faith for the first time and others return to their childhood faith. So not only do the faces change at TIC, but lives are transformed as well. We have witnessed 18 baptisms during our time in Toulouse.

Never Give Up

Leah* (American) and her husband (French) moved to Toulouse several years ago. She had a Christian background but hadn’t attended church in many years. A number of Franco-American couples want to keep the English language alive in their families, so when Leah heard about TIC, she began to attend with her three daughters.

In January 2006, we offered a morning Alpha course for women. “Participating in the women’s Alpha group was a real godsend,” Leah said. “I knew in my heart that I needed to participate, and I remember holding my breath during the announcement of the day and time. Small miracle—it worked for me! There was no doubt. The wheels were in motion, and I jumped on for the ride.”

After finishing the course, Leah asked Christ to be her Lord and Savior. “I appreciate hearing Andrew preach from the Bible rather than about it.” I came alongside Leah in a one-on-one weekly discipleship lesson. “It was a wonderful, fulfilling experience that provided a great ‘Bible-based’ foundation on which to continue building my Christian life,” said Leah. She is becoming involved at the church and has a burden to see her husband find his way to Christ.

“I feel lucky and relieved that God did not give up on me and that I have a newfound relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ,” Leah said. “This is a new beginning. I have learned to surrender my problems and worries and to pray for guidance and help in all aspects of my life, and I have experienced the proof of prayer. It is a new and wonderful feeling to let go of guilt and know that God knows me, loves me and is on my side. I am new to this—but I have the rest of my life to practice.”

*Name changed

FRANCE — In Brief

One of the original members of the European Economic Community, now called the European Union (EU), France is one of the main agricultural producers of the EU. The country is a large exporter of wine, mineral water, dairy products, meat and fish. Other industries are the manufacturing of cars, aircraft, machinery, electronics, chemicals, textiles and clothing.

Besides Paris, the capital, other major cities are Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Toulouse and Strasbourg. Toulouse, one of France’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas, is the center of Europe’s aerospace industry. Strasbourg, one of the sites of the EU Parliament, is situated near the German border and has changed hands several times during the two nations’ turbulent relationship.

During World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945), the French were on the side of the Allies, although German forces occupied France from 1940 until the war’s end. Following Germany’s defeat, France faced nearly two decades of strife as its colonies in Indochina and Algeria struggled for independence.

More than 80 percent of the French people are Roman Catholic, but the majority rarely attends church services. Largely as a result of immigration from its former African colonies, the second largest religion in France is Islam.

—from www.worldinfozone.com

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