Reflections by Paul Cooke, France Mission’s Director
We have a delightful lodger in our household; she’s from Wuhan in China where Covid-19 was first identified at the end of last year. At the time, she was back home for a family funeral. She just managed to get back to us in early 2020 before the Chinese authorities imposed a severe lockdown on her home city. For a couple of months, we prayed regularly for her family living under very difficult conditions. Then it became clear that, far from being a localised problem in faraway China, Covid-19 had become a global pandemic that was about to engulf Europe.
Both France and the UK have been severely affected by the disease. Christians are never immune from such things and, as the various articles in this issue make clear, the French evangelical community has certainly had a whole series of challenges with which to contend.
The CNEF (National Council of French Evangelicals) recently published a study of the impact of Covid-19 on evangelical churches and organisations in France. You can read the full report at bit.ly/2yYeuMm (it’s in French, of course), but here are some of the headlines:
· 31%of congregations have had members directly affected by the virus
· 87%of churches started using new digital tools as a result of lockdown
· 52%of churches have seen income decline by about a third or more
· 31%of churches believe that the reputation of evangelicals has been damaged due to negative media reports
In the midst of these challenges, perhaps we can all be encouraged by another C-19 – Colossians 2 verse 19: “the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” Thank you for being part of the supporting structure for the evangelical church in France, and please pray that God will indeed cause it to continue to grow.