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International – Carcassonne church inauguration

June 2018 | by E. M. Hicham

After four years of searching for a new building, plus one year of administration and renovation work, Carcassonne Reformed Baptist Church, France, had the immense joy of inaugurating our new church premises.

This took place in November 2017, accompanied by local residents and elected officials, friends and representatives of other churches in the region, France and the UK.

We celebrated the grace of God, his faithfulness and goodness towards his people. The inauguration weekend gave us an opportunity to thank all those who participated directly or indirectly in the realisation of this project, and to trace the history of our church and its proposed activities.

Presenting our confession of faith was a great opportunity to share the gospel with the many non-Christians present. At the end of the inauguration, guests were invited to share a copious buffet.

The Christian concert on Saturday evening was well attended and much appreciated. Many visitors who attended Saturday’s events were also with us for Sunday worship and a fellowship lunch. Here they had the chance to try Cassoulet, a local speciality made with sausages, beans and preserved duck, apparently invented during the Hundred Years’ War.

Beginning

Having spent many years pastoring a church in Alsace, Tony and Barbara Hynes, with four of their six children, moved in 1988 to Carcassonne, a town of 45,000 inhabitants.

Their aim was to help a church in Limoux and join a church-planting team in Carcassonne. Over the years, the church in Carcassonne has grown slowly but surely.

Tony and Barbara retired in 2010 and continue to be active in the work. The church called Hicham (accompanied by his wife Elizabeth and their children) to lead the work as pastor.

In recent years, the church has grown significantly and, in 2017, it relocated to its large new premises. We thank the Lord for many answers to prayer. Thank you to all those who have prayed about the church building situation, and to all who support the work here in prayer and financially.

We are grateful to Peter Nye for heading up the team of builder volunteers who have worked incredibly hard, transforming an empty warehouse into a comfortable meeting place.

Pete’s ministry, under UFM, is known as ‘Operation Centurion’. It involves travelling around the world to advance God’s kingdom through missionary and church building projects. Without his help this project would not have been possible.

Outreach

Having our own premises has already enabled the church to reach out to local people in new ways. In March last year, when the church flat had been completed but the other renovations were still underway, two young ladies arrived from England to spend three months running a Saturday children’s club and helping the church in other ways.

Through door-to-door work and leafleting they met many families, some of whom still attend the church and have been baptised. Since then we have had many different people staying in the church flat, especially students from Bible colleges on placements.

A team of 25 Americans is coming in July to run, for the second year, a bilingual Holiday Bible Club. We pray this will provide contact with local people.

Having a larger building enables us to accommodate a bigger team for the annual week of evangelism. Last year we welcomed a team of 26 in August. This year’s week of outreach will take place from 21-28 August. If you have a heart for the gospel and speak some French, or know someone who does, could you encourage them to participate?

The ladies’ Bible study was re-launched last year using the French translation of the Know Your Bible notes. The new building has many smaller, comfortable rooms ideal for use by small groups. One such group is a prayer meeting and Bible study in English, which takes place every Wednesday morning, in addition to the various French midweek meetings.

English translation

On Sundays we now use our new translation system, so that English regulars and holiday makers can sit in the service with everyone else and hear the translation through a small ear piece.

Another change is that the ‘La Voix des Prophètes’ literature ministry has moved to its new offices in the church building. Packaging up literature is now a lot easier for those involved.

The church has evangelistic stalls at three different markets during the week, with good opportunities to give out literature and engage people in conversation. Our house groups are doing well, with neighbours attending who really seem to be seeking the Lord. There are quite a few unconverted people who attend every Sunday: we pray for a work of grace in their hearts.

Hicham