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How can you believe that?

by Cécile Chaussée Gibbs

To learn more about Free Will Baptist ministry in France, visit

THIS STORY MAY SEEM ORDINARY TO YOU…but it is not to me. I want to tell you what I encountered as a new Christian. It is not only my experience, but also that of many young (and not so young) people who make decisions for Christ in France.

I gave my heart to the Lord when I was 19 years old. Before then, I never thought about going to church on Sunday morning instead of sleeping. I grew up in a family where religion did not have a place. My parents were both raised Catholic, but God is not important to them. Although they baptized my brothers and me in the Catholic Church, it was done out of tradition, not conviction. That is just what we do in France.

Religion is on the decline in France. People who go to church are usually older folks attached to their religion. The few young people who actually attend church are considered “not too cool” or nerds by the remainder of the population. There is a phenomenal rejection of religion in France. Religion is “old fashioned.”

The Wooden Church

I never went to church, and I was never interested in religion. Then I met Joël Gibbs. From time to time he talked to me about the church, his church friends, and what God had done in his life. But, to be honest, it did not interest me at all.

Eventually, however, curiosity led me to attend the “wooden” church (that is how people describe it). I went several times. The warmth and love of this church and its people really impressed me. I began to ask myself a lot of questions. The questions continued until the day I decided to give my heart to the Lord.

Then Came the Hard Part

Honestly, I was afraid. Afraid my family would not understand and would criticize me. Afraid they and friends would reject me. That is exactly what happened.

People said I accepted Christ to please Joël or his parents. They indicated I was an intelligent girl. How could I believe such “junk”? Friends and family members were certain God could not exist. All the eternal questions kept coming: “If God exists, why is there…?” and “If God is love, how could He allow…?” And I can tell you; these questions were not easy to answer.

While my family and friends believed I had changed, they did not think it a good change. I spent entire evenings trying to convince them my faith is good, attempting to justify my choice, and explaining that my faith in God is inside, and not easy to define. Often all the questions and reproaches were too much for me to deal with, and I just cried.

To tell anyone I was going to church on Sunday morning was not at all easy for me. I was kind of ashamed to say it. To say Joël and I could not live together, or go on vacation together as a couple before marriage was even more difficult.

Marriage is becoming less important in France. When people marry it is much later, after they are comfortably set up with a house, a job—even after they have children. For many, marriage is only a piece of paper having nothing to do with love and commitment.

People Thought We Were From the Middle Ages

To be a Christian in France means to be in the minority, to be weird. Some even think Christians belong to a sect. It is not easy to hear such things, but this is an everyday thing for me.

You can easily understand that Joël and I, who did everything backwards from everyone else, were considered strange. We had a real problem making people understand why we were the way we were. Or, why we did things the way we did.

It has been five years since I gave my heart to the Lord. Even though my family and friends have accepted that I am a Christian, they still do not understand.

My husband and I were in the United States for a six-month internship for his French university degree in 2005. The few months we were here taught me a lot about the American culture, especially about religion and how people live their faith. I do not want to offend you, but I cannot help but think being a Christian in America is easy. Christianity is an accepted thing in your society.

I am sharing my testimony with you, so you might better understand the enormous spiritual needs in France. Without people like Jerry and Barbara Gibbs, without missionaries and the support you give them, I would not be able to share my heart with you.

Cécile Chaussée Gibbs and her husband Joel were married on August 6, 2004. They made Nashville their home in November 2005. Having received her master’s degree in psychology, Cecile is currently seeking a job in that field. The couple attends Donelson Free Will Baptist Church.





©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists