Some details of the work of the Lord in the land of France are given by our brother.
Over the last few years we have had about thirty series of tent meetings in the south of France, mainly in the region of the eastern Pyrenees.
The tent is small with a maximum seating capacity of fifty. We would be happy to see a fraction of that number in to listen. It is a frame tent, without ropes or cables. Being of PVC material, it is sturdy, although there has been a measure of wear and tear. Many visiting brethren have helped put it up and take it down.
Each spring we write to several municipal councils asking for permission for erecting the tent. A majority refuse, but we do receive permission for one or two sites. Each series is relatively short, ten days to three weeks being typical. This may seem short, but it must be remembered that the meetings are in places where there are no Christians, and that the population is indifferent to spiritual matters. On several occasions, we have had series in villages where not one person came to the tent.
The meetings are publicized by door to door distribution of invitations in the village and surrounding area. Posters play a big part in making the tent known. During a period of two weeks, we put up gospel texts and approximately 300 posters containing information about the tent. A brother in the assembly at Copnor Gospel Hall, Portsmouth (where I was saved and baptized) made an extremely practical lightweight 12 volt amplifier for a small PA system. This has proved very helpful. Many hearers stay outside the tent, on occasions returning nightly, but staying outside.
The Pentecostal and Charismatic movements are very strong in France. These groups have enticed away some who have shown interest in the gospel. This past summer, we had a series in a village called Elne. A young man came to the tent two years ago. Recently, we heard that as a result, he has been saved. Pentecostals encouraged him to go to their meetings, but he came back to the tent. He is not satisfied with their gatherings, so we will be keeping in touch with him.
A few years ago, we had meetings in La Seyne, a town near the port of Toulon. One evening a woman came to the tent. Her husband was in prison, and as she was walking past the tent, she suddenly decided that she should come in and listen to the preaching of the gospel. As a result, she was put in contact with a local assembly, was saved, baptized and is now in fellowship. It turned out that they had imprisoned her husband wrongfully. He was released and has since professed faith in Christ.
Meetings in Ur were poorly attended. It was not Ur of the Chaldees, but Ur of the Pyrenees, a small village 5000 feet above sea level, where the postmaster is a believer. Like Abraham, this brother left Ur and now lives several hundred miles away Those that came were in general on vacation and were surprised to find a gospel tent in that area, not far from Spain and Andorra.
Up to the present we have not had any problems with vandalism. Once in Marseille, I had visits each morning from city officials to see if I had been attacked during the night. The area was reputed to be dangerous. I replied that regretfully that had not happened as it would be good to have some unashamed sinners to speak to! We are appreciative of the help given at times by young brethren from British, French and Belgian assemblies. We believe that the experience has proved useful and encouraging to them.
The next series, Lord willing, is in a village called Vinca in the foothills of the Pyrenees. We do not know of anyone in the village who is saved. We trust that the testimony will be used of God to reach and save sinners. This feature of the Lord’s work is physically demanding (if you do not believe me, try holding down a tent ten feet high and 30 feet long with a 60 mile per hour Mistral blowing at three o’clock in the morning as it happened at Marseille!) and often lonely, but we are grateful for what God has been pleased to do over the years. We look to Him to bless His Word. “Little is much if God is in it.”