Milnrow’s French connection
Milnrow Evangelical Church took two steps forward on Saturday 16 January. Hicham was recognised as a new pastor for the work in south-east France which Tony Hynes has planted and faithfully developed for many years. And to help fill the gap Hicham leaves, Julian Hurst was also recognised as a further pastor for Milnrow.
Milnrow’s local work involves a strong emphasis on evangelistic work in the area, including cooperation with other churches in the region. Maintaining that work and providing pastoral continuity was the rationale behind the appointment of Julian.
It was encouraging that the church was filled with believers from many churches in support of these men and the churches they are being called to serve.
There is a sizable North African community in the city Hicham is going to, as well as a huge tourism industry with an estimated visitor number of 10 million per annum.
Hicham was converted during his Master’s degree course in France, spent a year at the European Missionary Fellowship (EMF) school of biblical studies, and has since trained and served at Milnrow alongside Kevin Matthews and David Harding.
Hicham speaks fluent Arabic, French and English, is married to Elizabeth (they have two children), and is unreservedly evangelical and reformed. He is well suited to assist taking forward the work in this vital city in south-east France.
He will be ministering among French, North Africans and the thousands of tourists visiting the city daily, during the long summer period.
One consequence of Milnrow’s ministry among Muslims and asylum seekers has been a transformation in its own church attendance.
Up to 10 language groups are now regularly attending meetings and a number of these have been converted and received into membership after being baptised. How wonderful to see such a work carried over into France!
The French arm of United Beach Missions (Mission Vacances) has been supporting Tony Hynes and the French church, by running a week of evangelism including open- air preaching, tracting and door-to-door visitation each year.
Hicham not only wants this to continue, but be developed. During the recognition service he outlined his vision for the future of the French work and offered a free two-day holiday to anyone willing to stay an extra four days to reach out to the community!
France is viewed by many as the most unevangelised country in Europe, with more Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons than any kind of evangelical church in the country. The city Hicham will work in also has two large Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Halls and a Mormon meeting place.
Interestingly, both these cultic groups are led by North Africans, as will the evangelical church be, once Hicham arrives. There are very few other Bible churches among hundreds of villages and towns surrounding this small evangelical outreach.
Hicham takes up his post in July, after a final valedictory service on 22 May at Milnrow, during which Geoff Thomas will speak. Details will be publicised at www.milnrow.org
Anyone wishing to pray for Hicham or support him in his work may contact UFM Worldwide, 145 Faringdon Road, Swindon, SN1 5DL or [email protected]
Hicham has written a number of helpful books, evangelistic tracts and booklets for reaching Muslims. His website at www.word-of-hope.net is helpful for those considering reaching out to their Muslim neighbours.