As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
Around 10,000 gathered in Le Havre to pray and reflect about the Reformation. Nick Vujicic was the main speaker. Additionally, 1,000 young people were sent to evangelism projects all around France.
For Bastille day (France’s national Day), 8,000 Evangelical Christians gathered in a stadium to pray for the country in the morning, and in the afternoon, more than 10,000 awaited to hear Nick Vujicic, the international star preacher.
PRAYING FOR FRANCE
This amazing story started four years ago when a team of a handful of Christians who got the vision to organise a youth and evangelism event.
The day began with the famous francophone band Impact and its hit song “Sola Gratia” (by grace only), followed by a sermon on the national motto “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” (Liberty, equality, fraternity).
Then a significant part of the morning was dedicated to prayer with Franck Meyer, Mayor and President of the Protestant committee for human dignity, through prayers for the country, authorities, against hatred and for religious freedom.
The fervent crowd participated actively in the prayer time. The secret hope of Bouge ta France is to see a spiritual awakening happening in France, a very secular country.
500 YEARS OF THE REFORMATION AND LE HAVRE
The celebrations continued with the exhibition inauguration along with officials of the city.
The newly nominated Prime Minister of Emmanuel Macron’ government was actually the Mayor of Le Havre who allowed this event to happen and was favourable to the exhibition “500 years of Le Havre / 500 years of the reformation”.
As a matter of fact, the city of Le Havre was built by King François 1st in 1517, the very same year that Martin Luther posted the 95 thesis in Wittenberg.
The exhibition was prepared by three scientists hired by the French Evangelical Alliance (CNEF), and contains 118 panels, 28 of them related to the relationship between Le Havre and the protestants throughout the history.
It shows that several Mayors of the city were famous protestants as well as some other important figures like the founder of the football club, and different entrepreneurs.
Moreover, it recalls that the spiritual awakening in the1930s in France came from Le Havre with a British pastor. Maybe a good omen for Bouge ta France.
“A CHURCH REFORMED AND ALWAYS BEING REFORMED”
The exhibition has different focus besides the reformation and Le Havre: youth, music and francophone (French-speaking) countries and people.
It will be available for churches to run in their own city, 20 churches have already asked for it. The selling of the exhibition books will also help to raise money.
The inauguration was the occasion for the organisers, the Catholic Bishop of Le Havre and officials, to reaffirm their commitment to laicity, freedom of religion of belief, diversity, and our common responsibility as citizens and Christians.
“Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda” ("a church reformed and always being reformed") were the words of the French EA’s President Etienne Lhermenault : the Church should never resign itself, but it should always be transformed by the Word of God, as history has shown.
1,000 TEENAGERS IN THE EVENT
According to Patrick Dudas, the President of Bouge ta France, the event was a success globally as the expected number of participants was reached: 1,000 teenagers who were strengthened in their faith and taught how to conduct evangelism actions, and 8,000 Christians in the morning of July 14th.
The young participants had already practised the teachings in the afternoon of the 13th in the surroundings of Le Havre, which was a challenge for many of them as they were doing evangelism in the streets for the first time, but the inhabitants have been generally welcoming.
They focused on inviting the people to Nick Vujicic’s speech.
READY TO GO AND SHARE THE GOSPEL
The organisers said they were satisfied by the event globally - even though security issues have been more complex to handle - and particularly the relationships with the authorities were very positive.
The teenagers are now ready to go to their own towns and share the gospel, and that is the second part of the event, with 40 projects in all regions of France, that will be deployed until June 2018.
On the 14th, Bouge ta France also started in some French islands overseas, they were able to participate in the speech of Nick Vujicic via video transmission.
A concert of Latino music and a Christian storyteller launched the afternoon celebration. In the meantime, all around the stadium, various activities were proposed for children and families.
NICK VUJICIC, THE GUEST SPEAKER
Nick Vujicic, the guest speaker, was in France for the first time, and he explained in a press conference his vision and strategy for youth in Europe. Jesus and His love are the answer to the despair of this world especially of young people.
They face a problem of values that requires more than education. To reach Europe for Christ, we need more youth events like Bouge ta France, but this is obviously not enough. Nick’s ministries are also planning massive radio and TV motivational broadcasts to influence general values and principles.
He usually sees a progressive influence in the countries where he comes to speak, which could request 3, 4 or more visits.
He also announced more videos subtitled in French to come and social media accounts in French.
A TESTIMONY OF FAITH
The talk of the limbless star was very inspirational as he testified of his own story of depression and suicide attempt when he was a teenager, and the impact of his conversion to Jesus-Christ in his life.
His experience says everything about the power of faith to change lives even in the most hopeless situations.
In this framework, he presented the work of Compassion International, sponsoring children in the poorest countries to offer them a better future.
He repeated this sentence as a slogan: “If you can’t get a miracle for yourself, be a miracle for someone else”.
In a style that he would probably use to talk to most teenagers and with striking examples, he demonstrated the transformational force of faith in Christ on the individuals and on societies as a whole.
He presented the offer of salvation and redemption before ending up with a call to conversion which a number of people responded to in a prayer.
Nick’s tour in Europe has just started and no one doubt that we’ll hear about his presence for a long time.
This happy husband, father of two, and soon to be father of four, is not done with tirelessly announcing the Gospel all over the world.
SENT TO EVANGELISE
The day finished with 25 buses chartered by Bouge ta France waiting to bring participants back home.
The youth left on Saturday 15th to join the evangelism projects in the different regions of France. The fruits of this national campaign are awaited and Christians hope the country will be entirely blessed and wounds of the recent years finally healed.
INTERVIEW WITH A PARTICIPANT
Valentine, 16 years old from the North of France, participated in the gathering and was joined by her family on Friday 14th.
Question. What were your motivations to attend the event?
Answer. When you hear of such a youth event, it’s very attractive. I wanted to meet with God in community and in prayer, and have personal quiet time with my Lord. I am also eager to share my faith with people and some were really touched by our actions.
Q.Precisely, which evangelism project did you chose?
A. I participated in the flashmob on the beach in Fécamp that we realised as a choreography with the public invited to dance with us.This was part of an animation organised by the city.
After dancing we came to talk to the audience. I myself spoke with a child who was sad the flashmob was over, and to his grand-mother there with him, I shared what we were doing here and invited them to the national day event. She took two seats! Amazing!
Q. How did it went and what have you learnt?
A. I felt very at ease right from the beginning. It was terrific, fantastic, awesome. I learnt that we can share our faith in many different ways. And I was able to fulfil a survey to know my spiritual gifts better .
I found out that I was skilled for pastoral care, being in contact with people, praying for them and helping.
This year was difficult for me spiritually and Bouge ta France has given me energy and hope to continue the road!
Q. Is there a sentence that would sum up your experience?
A. Life is short, Eternity is long, live your life for Jesus-Christ so it will matter.