Missionaries Olivier & Julie Toledo explain their new ministry in northern France
Since September 2019 we’ve been living in the northern most region of France (Hauts-de-France), in the department of the Somme, developing a husband-and-wife pastoral ministry and overseeing a network of churches that are all part of Perspectives.
Before explaining more about that, here’s a bit about us personally…
Olivier: I grew up in south-west France and gave my life to God when I was 15. I soon felt a call to pastoral ministry. After eight years of waiting and training (business studies and work as a sales engineer),I went to study theology at the Geneva Bible Institute. Several internships in churches confirmed my calling. After Julie and I got married, we moved to Grenoble to start pastoral ministry in an established church.
Julie: I grew up surrounded by church as my father was a minister. After the baccalaureate and a period of doubt, God took hold of my life and I went to spend a year at the Geneva Bible Institute (where I met Olivier). I wanted to go further, so spent three more years studying theology at the Jean Calvin Faculty in Aix-en-Provence. When we moved as a married couple to Grenoble, I did additional study in the area of social work and started working with vulnerable and at-risk people. But the desire to work alongside Olivier serving God grew increasingly stronger, so much so that we eventually decided to go into shared pastoral ministry.
What’s happened since arriving in the north of France? Firstly,we had to manage a lot of change: a new region, neighbours, schools, and weather… lots of challenges!
As far as our ministry is concerned, we’re working together in two developing churches (Amiens and Abbeville), as well as with two smaller plants (in Albert and in the Val de Somme). Julie does two-and-a-half days a week and Olivier does four. As we’re both “on the frontline”, we’ve deliberately chosen to set aside time for our marriage and our children. Our role is to oversee the churches and groups, equipping and sending believers into Christ’s mission. We encourage church elders to develop their area of service. We help the churches define their vision and their mission. We organise training so that believers can develop their gifts and their relationship with the Lord. And we encourage Christians to develop a missional lifestyle so that the church can shine brightly and grow. How? By starting small “growth groups”, training them to share the gospel and a Christian worldview, and organising church services that are accessible to believers and seekers alike. Another important area of our work involves young people, encouraging the sharing of resources and vision in our network of churches.
In other words, we have a lot on (!) and we really need God’s grace, wisdom, discernment, and the power of His Spirit. We know how important it is for us to depend entirely on our Creator and that,without Him, everything would be in vain.
We want to say a big thank you to France Mission for supporting us financially at the present time and hope this article will help you know how to pray for us. Our churches in Picardy aren’t very big and have limited resources, but they want to grow and they cling to Him who provides for all our needs out of His glorious riches in Christ.
Our prayer is that we might shine like stars, holding firmly to the word of life (Philippians 2:15-16).