Area Rep Jill Kennedy reports on her involvement at two Christian festivals
Founded in 1937, Bangor Worldwide is a virtually unique week-long phenomenon in the UK, having all its Bible readings, prayer gatherings, seminars, evening celebrations and keynote addresses focussed on promoting and supporting world mission. Its location at one of the larger churches in Bangor (Northern Ireland) allows a mission resources exhibition to run alongside the main programme.
Although footfall at mission stands at Christian events is famously (among reps!) variable, this year at Bangor was very encouraging.Monday, Thursday and Friday all provided a few conversations with genuinely interested enquirers. Tuesday was the evening of back-to-back visitors, so it was enormously helpful that Megan O’Rourke (whose article about her gap year in Blois can be found in the last issue of France Mission Perspectives: bit.ly/2k6n2cJ)was able to add extra manpower and bring right-up-to-date insights into what life in a relatively new church plant looks and feels like.
Another highlight was reconnecting with a student who’d stopped at the FM stand at Bangor back in 2017. Her attention then had been caught by a PowerPoint slide showing Champfleuri,the Perspectives residential centre in the Alps (champfleuri.org), where she was about to spend part of a post-A level gap year on the DEFI discipleship programme. A couple of years later, it was good to hear how that experience has fed into her life going forward into uni. Two-way sharing of information became a feature of the week, with a number of visitors bringing news to me from their own love and experience of France.
Who dropped by looking for an update on what God is doing in France?
· a lady who’d spent a number of years as a CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) worker in Paris
· another who’d worked there as part of a Baptist Youth Missions team while a student
· a former France Mission supporter keen to reconnect
· a couple from a Bangor church which supports a church planter in France
· a number of holidaymakers, eager to know how to track down a French church in their favourite region
· a person cautiously exploring a possible call to work in France
· an enthusiastic GCSE French learner
· and an inspirational 87-year-old lady who feels called to pray for people engaged in the kind of work she no longer has the energy to do!
Please pray for these people as they consider what ongoing involvement in France God may have for them.
Wednesday was different, requiring that a summer’s day be spent in the beautiful grounds of Castlewellan Castle, which sits nestled under the Mourne mountains – not too much suffering there! This was for EQUIP, the annual student festival of CUI (Christian Unions Ireland, the all-Ireland equivalent of UCCF). Although I was only therefor a day, this was sufficient for the lone linguist at the festival to be reassured that there are more evangelical churches in France than she’d been expecting and that any of them would be delighted to welcome her during her year abroad!
It was also a day of significant contact with other stand holders, some with a personal or family interest in France. FM’s neighbours in the marquee, UBM (United Beach Missions), were encouraged to find their “Avancer” programme among the summer opportunities promoted on the new FM website (francemission.org/go).In addition, it seems likely that these opportunities will be promoted on CUI’s various social media platforms, following a visit to the stand of the CUI Team Leader responsible for digital content. So, all in all, a useful day in a sunny forest park.
(As this article demonstrates, Area Reps can play an enormously helpful role in promoting France Mission around the UK. If you’d be interested in the possibility of joining the team, please contact Paul Cooke (email@example.com) for a chat.)