As a Canadian I find it tough to swallow what I see happening in France right now. Only 8.1%* of French workers belong to labour unions and that number is split between several unions. Yet this tiny percentage is holding the rest of the country hostage. Want to know what’s really happening?
This week has seen the following:
- Strikes or blockades at all 8 oil refineries in the country leading to closed stations & panicked motorists waiting hours in line.
- Strikes by rail workers cutting 1/3 to 1/4 of trains depending on the region
- Strikes affecting air travel out Paris’ Orly Airport
- Strikes at nuclear plants, threatening electrical shortages
- Strikes blocking the publication, Thursday, of all national daily newspapers that did NOT print a statement by the largest union.*
So. Utterly. Ridiculous.
That’s WHAT‘s happening.
Here’s WHY it’s happening.
The Spirit of Revolution
In 1789, Louis XVI was king of France. Abuse of finances & privilege on the part of the monarchy and the church drove the people to a breaking point. They overthrew the nobility and abolished the absolute monarchy in favour of a more liberal democracy, a Republic. Their rallying cry? Liberty, Equality & Brotherhood.
The Revolution …distinguished itself quite early by its radical individualism.
I’m not defending the nobility, there was certainly abuse, however I’m not sure that radical individualism is much better. In essence, they threw off authority in favour of the individual. As an outsider looking in, it’s like they tolerate authority as long as it doesn’t get in the way of what they want.
Those are core principles on which the country is founded.
You can be sure it impacts their approach to God and the church.
Missionary Field Fellowship (MFF)
You may have seen the image I tweeted out on Tuesday showing the extent of gas shortages. The reason for our trip was to attend M.F.F. in Melun. It was short but definitely sweet – lasting all day Wednesday and allowing us to rub shoulders with the missionary family here as well as other AIMers:
- Mike & Dianna Tuttle (Regional Director – Europe Middle East)
- John & Anne Nowacki
(Senior Field Missionaries)
- Paul & Darla Brochu
(Paris Region & Châtellerault)
- Marcus & Renée Brainos (Nice)
- Justin Ward (Melun)
- Dean & Loreen Byfield (Melun)
We spent the morning sharing reports from our various places of ministry, had lunch together and then continued in the afternoon, where Bro. Nowacki cast the vision for the ongoing work in France. Among other things…
“To have a church in each of the 14 regions of France.”
We currently have a number in the greater Paris region and in the North, but there remains much work to do in the west and the lower half of the country. As you continue to support our family, you are part of the working out of that vision as we are in the west.
Not only was it a valuable time on a team level, it was also profitable for us personally.
I am regularly in Melun with other members of the missionary team, but this is not the case for Liz. It was an excellent chance for her to be involved in critical discussions that will impact any potential future with Global Missions. Any plans that we make need to be fully informed and it gave her a chance to share her thoughts & questions about further involvement.
Our kids connected very well with Bro. Tuttle as well. Once supper was done at Buffalo Grill…. the games surfaced and he & Timo went head to head… each winning at least one round. SO cool for that connection to be so positive!
On our way home from MFF, on Thursday, we stopped for a visit to the Chateau de Fontainebleau. Although not built by Napoleon, nonetheless this castle is heavily associated with him.
We walked the ground for a bit before heading through the courtyards to the front entrance. Upon arrival, we were told that museum staff as well were also partially on strike sooooo…. there would be no fee to get into the castle however only the Napoleon exhibit would be open… the grand apartments would have to wait for another time.
Can you believe it?! Strikes all ’round! (I’m told that the CGT – the largest union – also has a branch for the unemployed, allowing even THEM to strike!)
Though most of you celebrated motherhood a few weeks ago, in France, Mothers’ Day falls tomorrow. So upon our arrival back on Thursday night the kids finished up some school work and then balanced school work with working on some crafts to hand out to our ladies on Sunday (more on that next week).
On another “motherhood note” we came back to find that one of the eggs that our hen had been sitting on has hatched. She’s sitting on a few more so we’ll see, when all is said & done, how many extras we have, but for now, Sophie is surely excited with this little one!
I think I’ll leave you on that note for today. Thank you for staying on top of what is happening here… Liz will be speaking in tomorrow’s Mothers’ Day service so do keep her in prayer.
Also, knowing a bit more about what is going on in France, and more importantly why it’s going on, pray for all of the missionary team. We meet people daily who, as they did during the revolution, want to distance themselves from the king and the church. Nonetheless… there are also the hungry!
Lord lead us to them and open our eyes to the opportunities.
God bless you today!