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Ministry and mercy under French lockdown

CMS missionaries Josh and Susannah Apieczponek are ministering among university students in France. Here are some pictures of what ministry in Lyon looked like under Coronavirus in early to mid 2021.

At the time of writing (and the situation changes from day to day and week to week), vaccinations are slowly but surely being delivered. Having said that, France is struggling to contain a third wave of the pandemic.  Some regions have weekend confinement, and the whole country still has a 7pm curfew. Hospitals currently are coping well, but given the situation is not getting better, the threat of further restrictions hangs like a guillotine. In case we weren’t sure how serious the curfew was, Josh was recently stopped whilst out for a ride at 5:50pm.

A snapshot of a Sunday children’s program

Suse had a different type of pressure running kids church with more than 15 children in a small room because of the regulations in the hotel where our church meets on Sunday. Changing rules/contexts/locations has demanded lots of adaptability from the kids’ church team (our kids’ ministry is called Bibliclub). We are so thankful for the opportunity to keep meeting face to face. This week’s lesson was about Jesus the true vine –we start with Jesus, and we’ve got to stay with Jesus.

A merciful student ministry

With all universities teaching courses online, many students have headed back to the family nest. But many don’t have this option, such as international students, and the isolation and interminable time in front of a computer has meant many have struggled with mental health, sometimes and associated consequences.

Christian students have been wrestling with how to serve God and their fellow students during this pandemic and have hit on a great idea. They visit student residences with chocolates and fruit juice, knock on doors and introduce themselves as being members of a Christian student association who are looking out for and expressing solidarity with others.

Every student thinks it’s cool, invitations are given, and many good conversations are had. It’s also a wonderful moment for our students, who are pushed to think of others and discover God working in them and the truth of Jesus’ words that it’s better to give than to receive.

Meeting new students through juice and chocolate.

PRAY

Pray that the Apieczoneks and those they minister with will not grow weary of doing good, but will continue to trust God.