Trusting with joy is not an easy feat !
In 2019, a variety of circumstances led to the need for Wycliffe France to cease operations for a time. The most important activity was to reassign all missionary members of Wycliffe to other Wycliffe organisations or to mission organisations in France. The Board worked over 18 months to find a new person to lead a restart of Wycliffe's work in France. They felt that God was leading the organisation to clearly focus on prayer and the life of the church. In the process they interviewed a number of people to find someone who was a good fit to lead a restart of Wycliffe France's activities.
Trusting with joy is not an easy feat! The courage to believe God is involved and in control is not always easy to maintain.
Stewart Johnson, working as a leadership development coach with the European area team of Wycliffe, came alongside the Board to make suggestions and assist in this search process. In early 2021, it became abundantly clear to Stewart that God was calling him to lead the restart process with a small operational team and members of the Board. Trusting with joy involved a complicated travel routine coming out of COVID and a commitment in the short term to get operational capacity going once again.
Trusting with joy is more than possible if the dreams and actions are bathed in prayer. A small group of seven people began to pray. Prayer meetings began on Zoom and slowly the number of people praying grew to more than 20. The Lord responded. Money began to flow in from the most amazing sources. One lady sent a large gift. She sent a card to say she had read a book that just mentioned Bible Translation and as she read, the Lord directed her to send the gift. The money continued to come in and more than covered the increased costs for travel, restart and operations.
In addition to prayer, the team prioritise the creation of five communities of interest and engagement. These are:
- the translation of the whole Bible into French Sign Language (LSF)
- work amongst the Roma and Sinti peoples in France and Europe
- Bible translation in Siberia
- translation efforts in Togo-Benin
- work with local language groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo
A brand new concept!
In the past, missionaries sent by Wycliffe kept the interest going within a community of engagement that they facilitated themselves, a community of interest focused on their calling and work. Wycliffe France now had to trust that they had made the right choices of the first five communities. The dream is to create a working partnership of like-minded churches, mission organisations and individuals who commit to pray, to finance and to respond actively to needs that arise.
Trusting with joy is an interesting concept in this aspect. Getting started is really complicated and time consuming but it has been accompanied by much joy from God. As the five different communities receive interest from a number of churches and other mission organisations, we praise God with joy in our hearts that he continues to lead clearly and He blesses our efforts with success.
Trusting with joy is not easy either. Trusting with joy is essential to the faith and the courage that God requires of us all to be obedient and to follow his call. The road we are treading is quite a lonely one. Wycliffe France is really setting off in a completely new direction as it seeks to serve French churches as they dare to believe that God has a mission for them in which to participate.
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