Looking back on Blois

Student Sam Rees reports on his internship in a Perspectives church plant

In early 2020, I was studying French and Spanish at university looking forward to a year in Colombia. The pandemic changed all that with the Seminary where I was due to teach English closing for the foreseeable future.

Disappointed but determined to retain some control over my life, I applied for an Erasmus placement in the Canary Islands. Content that nothing could again come between me and warm weather, I went to serve with Interaction Camps over the summer to practise my French. It was there that I met Peter & Rachel Calvert who offered the possibility of coming to Blois if Erasmus didn’t work out. Soon after, my university cancelled all Erasmus placements prompting me to take a gap year and move to Blois. All of this has taught me patience and humility and I’m grateful for the role the Lord prepared for me in Blois where I could serve Him while growing in my faith.

I arrived in September 2020 without the usual months of preparation. Having taken a gap year, I had no funding, but God in His goodness provided me with the Calvert family who housed and fed me while I looked for something more permanent. I began to settle into church life with regular prayer meetings, helping out at kids’ clubs, and gradually getting to know a few people and the city itself.

During my time here, I’ve had numerous opportunities to grow spiritually ranging from training in exegesis to the evangelistic applications of French Church history. However, for anyone considering a similar internship, I’d encourage you to consider the spiritual benefits you receive simply by being in a new church setting. Although a little different from what I was used to, seeing that I have these brothers and sisters all over the world, all working towards the same goal, amazes me.

God provided me with a job teaching English at a Catholic school, among the perks of which were three meals a day in the regionally-renowned canteen and lodging in the Cathedral Presbytery with a group of Catholic priests. In His sovereignty, God placed me somewhere where I would benefit from others’ knowledge of the Bible whilst being challenged to question and thereby strengthen my own faith.

The other benefit of being in a Catholic school is that the ban on “religious expression” found in state schools doesn’t apply. So,I was able to talk about my faith freely, even planning some lessons around the Bible. I also had numerous conversations in the canteen about why I was in Blois, which from time to time led to deeper discussions about God. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would work in the lives of the teachers and pupils I met in Blois.

I eventually heard that the Seminary in Colombia was reopening in January. Visa issues and travel restrictions over in the UK meant I wasn’t able to leave France until 25th February. Again, I had to trust Proverbs 19.21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” And this last month in France presented multiple opportunities, including being able to share my testimony at an adult English class. They asked lots of questions afterwards so I pray that this might be genuine interest leading them towards the Lord.

I’ll now be working with theology students in Colombia for 17 months, helping them learn English in the hope that it opens doors for future ministry. I ask for prayer that the Lord would continue to look after me during this time and that, in all I do, His purposes might be fulfilled.

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Sam Rees

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