10 Years in Print: Special Edition
Cracks in the Darkness
By Lydie Teague
“As long as there is life, there is hope.”
I don’t remember how many times I heard this proverb during my childhood from my Breton father and grandmother.
France still has life. Although, frequently, it seems people are without hope. France is known for high rates of depression and pessimism. And since the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris in January, fear has also taken hold.
Though often seen as a Christian country, in reality, France has a small percentage of born again Christians—only 0.2% in our area. Talking about God with someone is uncommon. People consider it an “intimate” subject. And, for a lot of people, the subject can turn into a big conflict. It is surely not easy to make contacts with people who are interested in talking about God or the Bible. I knew that. Yet prior to returning to France in September 2013, I was optimistic about meeting people looking for Jesus…many people.
I am certain that people in the city of Nantes and its suburbs would accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord if they knew more about Him. But after working hard for several months, and having a hard time finding people who would talk about God, our big questions were: How can we find them? How can we approach them and show them we are not a cult trying to indoctrinate them?
So, at the beginning of 2014, we began praying God would send us “good soil” like that in the Parable of the Sower. We cried out to God, hoping to meet people with hearts open to the gospel.
In April 2014, we had our first JPense event—an evening specially designed for people who have never been to church and who probably never would attend. The music, the environment, the sermon content—everything was planned to help participants feel comfortable, and to give them an opportunity to hear the gospel in a way they could understand. We had never seen anybody do anything like this, so we didn’t have a clue how people were going to react. Knowing how complicated it is to bring someone to a Christian event in France, we didn’t know if we would have more that a few visitors. But we had almost 100 people at the very first event. The most amazing thing is, half of them were unbelievers!
Since then, we have had five similar events with as many as 130 people attending. We also offer discussion groups during the week where people can come and ask questions about God and the Bible. We address questions like “If God exists, why is there so much suffering?” A group called “Discovering the Bible” is available to those who want to know what the Bible contains. Almost every Tuesday and Wednesday night, I lead a small discussion group for non-believers.
This year (2014) was challenging (even if it was one of our best years). We battled fatigue, the sense of being overwhelmed, and criticism from other Christians because we are not doing evangelism the traditional way. It was sometimes hard to take.
A few Bible verses kept returning to my mind:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Almost every week, on my way to a small group meeting with non-believers, I repeated that verse in the car.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). This verse was helpful when a dear friend told me our ministry was fruitless. My heart couldn’t wait to see people reconciled with the Father, and it was hard to hear. But this verse came back to my mind. The work is not in vain.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Having Jesus with us constantly overjoys me and gives me courage. If He is with me, anything is possible. He can work through my weakness. I simply need to trust Him and listen to the Holy Spirit.
Being part of the Free Will Baptist family was also a great support. Seeing the number of people praying for France and for us—people we even don’t know—was so encouraging.
My husband Joel, who is optimistic and perseverant, was my greatest support. I can’t thank God enough for a man who always reminds me what is important and who sets an example in his everyday life. This summarizes his life: “God asked us to do something. Let’s do it. If we feel we can’t do it, we need to trust in Him and do our best—learn, try, pray, learn again, try again, and always pray—no matter what.” His great sense of humor helps our team and the people who attend our events, especially when we are talking about such touchy and difficult subjects.
Through the struggles, the doubts, and sometimes deceptions, the light is cracking through the darkness! The best part of 2014 started in October.
Mary called herself an atheist when she came to the first Jpense event in April. She said she met people during this event who had something different, something she wanted. She went back home and told her parents. They asked her to calm down because she was too excited.
Mary began attending JPense discussion groups in September. One day, I said to her, “Imagine that Jesus is the Son of God, what would that imply for you?”
She responded, “I can’t imagine Jesus is the Son of God, because I know He is the Son God. The more I read the Gospels, the more I’m convinced He is the Son of God.”
Back in her apartment that night, she prayed. She told God she was sorry for her sins and accepted His gift of salvation. She felt peace and something else she couldn’t explain, a mixed feeling of relief and love. She was baptized December 6, in front of many people, and told them, “It was the best day of my life.”
A few weeks later, another dear friend, Agathe, was saved during the Tuesday night discussion group. At the beginning of the discussion, she said, “I don’t think I’m ready to become a Christian. Something is missing. A barrier stops me from accepting God’s grace. I believe Jesus died on the cross for me, but I can’t decide to follow Him now.”
Of course, I asked her what the barrier was. We soon discovered she thought she was not “good enough” to be a Christian. After several questions and continuing discussion, I saw Agathe’s face change. I could see she was praying as we talked with the rest of the group. Suddenly, she announced, “My barrier is gone! I just prayed and said to Jesus that I was sorry for my sins, and that I accept the grace He is offering me.”
She cried and said she felt so at peace, and there were no more barriers. She was also baptized December 6.
The story was almost the same for Mélaine. Both Mélanie and Agathe were scared to disappoint God or be hypocrites. Mélanie is Cyprien’s sister. Cyprien, Joel’s best friend, was saved in March 2012. He often talked to his sister and others, about his new faith, but Mélanie asked Cyprien to stop talking to her about Jesus.
A week after Agathe’s conversion, Mélaine and I had a discussion on Facebook. As we started to talk, I felt an incredible excitement, because I could see the Holy Spirit was moving. I ran to Joel’s office, and asked him to pray for her.
Mélanie said she believed in God; she believed Jesus died on the cross to pay for her sins. She said she wanted to know God, but she had not told Him all of this yet. She felt like a hypocrite because of her life. After I answered some of her questions, our discussion seemed to end.
After a little bit, she said, “I told Him…I told Him I was sorry. I said thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for saving me. I want to be with You forever!”
She couldn’t stop crying and laughing. I couldn’t either. A few months earlier, she asked her brother to stop talking about Jesus, yet here she was…loving Jesus! That night she sent us a Bible verse (1 Peter 1:8-9), “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
What a miracle to see people come to a JPense event and return home with a desire to read the Bible! Alex, Maxime, Mika, Yann, Pascal, and others are also getting closer to God. I see more cracks in the darkness. Thank you, Lord!
About the Writer: Lydie Teague and her husband Joel are missionaries to Nantes, France. Learn more about JPense on Facebook or