by Joel Teague
I met Cyprien more than 12 years ago through downhill mountain biking, and we quickly became good friends. We played sports and music together. We watched movies, “hung out,” and talked about life.
I tried to share the gospel with him in various ways, but Cyprien always seemed to find a way to avoid or get out of that conversation. He just didn’t seem interested.
He left school and began working as an equipment operator. He also competed in BMX competitions. Cyprien characterizes this period of his life as unstable. He says, “I indulged in sin. My desire to prove I was better than others often motivated my behavior.” Friends and family frequently worried about him, and were even scared by the risks he took. Cyprien acknowledges, “I didn’t realize the harmful impact that not respecting my own life had on other people’s lives.”
In 2010, Cyprien went through a hard time, and I prayed God would use this to touch his heart. Meanwhile, my wife Lydie and I searched for a small house to live in while studying to apply to Free Will Baptist International Missions for missionary service. God opened doors, and we located a house right across the street from Cyprien’s. He spent lots of time with us. We shared meals; we talked. For Cyprien, seeing two people with Masters degrees and good jobs quit their careers to study the Bible was totally irrational. However, it led him to start thinking that maybe there was more to Christianity than he could grasp.
Cyprien was 29 when he began thinking seriously about the existence of God. He had lots of questions, everything from “If there is a God, why would He allow so much suffering on earth?” to “Why would I trust the Bible?” Lydie and I entered into long discussions with him, trying to help him understand God’s heart, His love and mercy.
Cyprien watched as we packed and prepared to come to the United States for a year or so of awareness building and fundraising. Two weeks before we moved out of our home, in March 2012, Cyprien went to his house and decided to open the Bible we had given him. He read the first five chapters of Matthew but didn’t understand it.
So, he knocked on our door, and we started a long conversation. In the course of this, Cyprien asked an extremely important question: “What is the difference between being a Christian and believing in God?” He had heard the gospel before, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ didn’t make sense to him.
That day, he understood for the first time that God loved him so much that He sent His Son to the cross so he could have a relationship with Him and have eternal life. Cyprien started crying. He was moved by the love of God for him even though he was a sinner.
The next day, while he worked, the sins he had done throughout his life began coming back to his mind. He was overwhelmed by his sinfulness. He told God, “I’m sorry for all I’ve done.” He thanked Jesus for His sacrifice and committed to follow Him.
Cyprien was changed. He was a new creature, and we could see it. When he came home from work, he said, “You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I feel like God is inside of me!”
Lydie and I responded, “Yes! That is the Holy Spirit.” Neither Lydie nor I have ever witnessed someone changed as much as Cyprien!
Cyprien has been a Christian for a year now and is a committed, faithful member of the Free Will Baptist Church of Saint Sebastien, France. He participates in Bible studies with men of the church and is involved in the worship team, playing drums on Sunday morning.
The first thing he said after being saved was, “I’ve got to tell everybody about Jesus Christ.” Almost no one in his extended family or among his friends is a believer, and Cyprien is trying to share the gospel with them. He has invited them to church and often shares his faith. He knows how tough it is to share the gospel in such a secular country, but he is very motivated!
As a professional BMX stunt rider, Cyprien is paid to do demonstrations. Young people in the skate parks know him and look up to him. He uses these demonstrations as an opportunity to be a light and share the gospel in the skate parks.
In 2012, he was interviewed by one of the biggest BMX magazines in France. As a new Christian, he wanted people to know about his changed life and stated that he is a fan of Jesus Christ and people should check Him out. Later he regretted he hadn’t said more, but what an amazing turnaround for my friend.
Cyprien has a huge burden for lost souls around him and in the world. One of Cyprien’s dreams is to be a part of our young adult ministry. He would do BMX demonstrations, followed by time to share his testimony.
Lydie and I are so excited to go back to France and work with Cyprien. Several years ago, we would say to one another, “Can you imagine, if Cyprien became a Christian, the impact he could have on so many young people in France?” God has made our dream come true, and we are sure He has an incredible plan for this young man’s life.
About the Writer: Joel and Lydie Teague are missionaries to Nantes, France, where they work with JCrois youth conference. They hope to establish a full-time center to reach French youth. Read more about the work of Free Will Baptist International Missions at www.fwbgo.com.