A series of reports from the team in Saint-Louis
Pastoral work overview (Thierry Steux):
In 2020, despite the Covid lockdowns, we were happy to baptize one person and to welcome several new people into the church who were already Christians but newcomers to the area. Today we’re also in contact with several Muslims who come when they’re invited, and others who are quite happy to come along with some of us to attend a young people’s group in a neighbouring church.
As for the pastoral work itself, we’re in a very needy area where some need to be followed up more than others and where certain people come from very difficult family and sociological backgrounds.
Due to a fear of the current virus, we’ve seen less of some of our members, and one of the areas of difficulty has been the drop in the number of children coming to the Sunday meetings. In spite of this, we’re grateful for the warm welcome given to the new people who’ve joined the church and are pleased that we’ve managed to continue with regular services and prayer meetings (although with legally limited numbers).
One of our important projects for this year is to begin an adult Bible course in the foundations of the Christian faith and, of course,there is our urgent need for bigger premises to continue the work in the future.
Outreach to children and families (Catherine):
I arrived here in 2019, with the intention of starting outreach activities for children and families in a housing estate close to the Saint-Louis Church. I developed a particular interest for this part of town when I first lived in northern Marseille for two years from 2005. During that time, I was struck by the size and number of the housing estates around here and saddened to think that very few inhabitants had been able to hear about the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s why I decided to come back to Marseille.
Our project is to start up a regular children’s club in the housing estate close to our church building, through which we can meet families and share the message of the gospel with them. The club will be a time of fun and games for children and their families. Each club will have a theme presented to the children through games, sketches, and a simple message, in a fun and engaging way. The most important thing about the club is not the content of the club itself but the relationships which we hope to create by coming regularly to the estate and showing the love of Christ to the families we meet. The club is due to start in April, if the restrictions are lifted enough to allow that.
French-language class for refugees (Simon Allchin):
Following contacts made in a refugee hostel near the church,we started this group about 2-3 years ago. With the recent partial lockdown this has been more difficult, but the group still exists and has even started functioning again.
The aim is to help people from various countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, and Sudan settle down in France, but also to witness in a very practical way. The lessons are given in the church building and so they know from the start that we are Christians, but many people from Muslim backgrounds now come to the courses and we consider it a miracle that they feel free to enter a church. There are also others from Orthodox backgrounds who’ve come to France to escape persecution in their own country.
Through these courses we now have many fruitful contacts with different people and, even if some of them end up living and working elsewhere, we hope and pray that these contacts with Christians will have been a powerful witness to them. Of course, we leave the most important part to God:the growth of the gospel seed that’s been planted in their lives.
Finally, we hope to buy an apartment in the North of Marseille (where prices are extremely cheap) to set up a sort of Christian Hostel to help refugees who sometimes need a place to sleep for 1-2 weeks before moving on to other places.