Report of Barnabas UK team visit to the Barnabas church at Digne les Bains, Southern France, 24th – 29th October 2009
From Saturday, 24th October to Thursday, 29th October 2009, a team from Barnabas UK travelled out to Provence in Southern France, to the town of Digne-les-Bains, to visit our brethren in the Barnabas church there. Our team consisted of Brian and Caroline Gingles from Larne Christian Fellowship in Northern Ireland, and Simon and Nally Payne from the Olive Tree Fellowship in Ely, England. We met up with Patrick Le Dily, Maurice Bied and Francis Deconinck, who are the leaders of the Barnabas work in France, and with the members of the Digne/Malijai church.
Our visit programme was based around a series of six meetings with the church, at which Brian and Simon preached. Subjects for teaching were: being a soldier in God’s army; principles for Christian ministry; seeking God passionately for revival; and the spiritual warfare. As is a general principle, when you teach on something, be prepared to experience that too! We found it was a time of spiritual battle, but one also where we saw the church moving forward and taking new ground. We came up against some specific obstacles that were hindering growth. God exposed some rebellious attitudes and we prayed for a removal of these things and for freedom for the individuals affected. Let us continue in prayer to see this work deepen and strengthen.
We held most of the meetings in Malijai, which is a village not far from Digne. The church has a new name: Assemblée évangelique des Alpes de Haute Provence. It also has a new meeting-place, called a local in French (pronounced lo-CAL, not as in “local pub” – a different Spirit!). Patrick and Véronique have rented a former shop premises which has room for about 30 people to meet comfortably. We also held two meetings in a private house in Digne made available to us by a sister in the congregation. This lady kindly provided us with accommodation in the same house, which is in a lovely location with fine views of the surrounding mountains. Three horses kept us company who live in the field behind the house. They impressed us with their gallopping and snorting!
Whilst this visit was mostly focussed on the Digne/Malijai church and ministry to the members, we also received some news about developments elsewhere in France. Maurice and Francis are praying into the starting of a new work in the area around the ancient city of Die, in the Drôme department. Together with some other believers, they are seeking God for His will about this initiative. It is an area that has, historically, had strong protestant connections, and the work of God has roots going back many centuries. However, there is very little current evangelical witness, and the existing church is weakened by leadership problems.
What we saw overall on our visit, was a reflection of the spiritual battle that is raging over France. In this land, spirits of individualism and distrust of authority affect multitudes of people, and are coupled with strong seducing spirits that trap people in deception and various sins. France needs a great deal of prayer to break these things down. It is also really important that we keep encouraging and supporting our brothers and sisters in Barnabas France. Thank you for your prayerful support for this work.