Population: 63.5 million (2012)
Official language: French
Major religion: none
IFES movement: Groupes Bibliques Universitaires (GBU)
France is an almost completely ‘de-Christianised’ country. Apart from a small part of the population that still holds on to Catholic culture, the basic message of the gospel is relatively unknown. Christians must therefore make a massive effort to witness.
- 85 universities in France (some have campuses in several cities); 90 GBU groups
- 15 people work at least part-time for the GBU
- 4 graduate networks in different fields, 15 high school groups
- largest group in Strasbourg, 100 students spread over 8 groups, smaller groups have one or two students
Although GBU France is in a barren land spiritually, it has flourished in recent years. It has produced websites, books, networks, and evangelistic tools. The number of GBU team members has also risen, tripling in 10 years, and now there are more indigenous than overseas team members. There has been training in bible study, evangelism and leading groups. The GBU training camp in August this year was so successful (110 people) that there is the need to plan for expansion next year.
The biggest challenge for this GBU is to increase the size and profile of their groups, and to include more non-Christians. This means groups improving their communication and GBU students being bolder in inviting their friends. At present many GBU groups do not know at the end of each year whether they will resume the following year because most of the students graduate.
View from the inside
Yohann Tourne is the Staff Team Leader of GBU France. He says, ‘I was taken on by GBU when I was a student. I don't know anything more exciting, interesting and essential than working for the advancement of the kingdom in universities. I'm excited about the enormous potential for growth that we have. All our staff members are really wonderful!’
Verses from 2 Kings 6:14-17 have inspired Yohann in his challenging context. It is the story of Elisha faced by an army. In response to his servant’s fear, Elisha says, ‘Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then he prayed and ‘the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.’
- that Christian French students spend more time taking risks in the service of the Lord so that they see his miracles;
- for financial provision: given the few numbers of evangelical Christians in France it is difficult for the movement to find financial support.