Fear and hope in ‘postmodern, post-Christian, post-pretty-well-everything’ Europe
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — “I’m worried about our continent,” Robert Limb…
Protesters broke windows and burned cars just a few doors down from the home of minister Roland Mohsen and his wife, Rose.
“We are safe,” Rose assured friends in a Facebook message. “Keep us in prayer.”
The couple, longtime servants of the Déodat Eglise du Christ (Church of Christ) in northwest Paris, are praying for their city of 2.2 million souls, which has endured weeks of violent protests.
A new tax on diesel fuels sparked the protests. Opponents donned yellow vests and said that the tax was the last straw in a series of fiscal policies by President Emmanuel Macron that they see as unjust, favoring the upper classes.
“Descending into the streets is more ‘normal’ in this country than elsewhere, but the looting of shops is alarming,” said Robert Limb, minister for the Moulin-Vert Church of Christ in Paris. No church members have yet been severely impacted by the protests, Limb told The Christian Chronicle.
Across France, church members expressed sorrow for the outbreak of violence — followed by deadly shootings at a Christmas market in the city of Strasbourg.
Philippe Dauner, minister for a Church of Christ in the coastal city of Marseille, said that the terrorist attack “reminded us of the importance of our presence here in a country where — in order — atheism, Islam and the Christian faith are in strong competition for French souls.
“Our country has recently been torn apart by the protests of people mainly wanting to express their fears and suffering. The recent changes in the French society — as well as poor or misunderstood political choices — have led to a generalized mistrust of the political world. The feelings of economic and social exclusion of many of my countrymen also contribute to a bleak view of the future, and, alas, some have tried to overcome their fears with violence.”
In France’s third-largest city, Lyon, “everyone is fine,” said Arlin Hendrix, who preaches for a Church of Christ there. “No members have been threatened or harmed in any way and were in no danger except if they were near any large crowds where peaceful demonstrators were infiltrated by ‘casseurs,’ as the French call them. “Casseurs” are people, usually young hoodlums, who take advantage of peaceful demonstrations to attack the police, vandalize, steal and start fires (garbage cans, cars and even some buildings). Events in Lyon were much, much less than in Paris.”
High taxes, low incomes and politics have contributed to the unrest, Hendrix said, but “the real problem is that so many people do not know God and live selfishly only for themselves — people of all political perspectives.
“Our prayers are for peace, of course. But we also pray that this crisis, and others, turn people to God for answers. We have often said to ourselves that it may take a crisis for the French to see that their needs can only be found in God. We pray for our French friends — that they turn to God — and this may be one way that God is answering that prayer. We pray also that we will be there to help them find God in their time of need.”
When asked what Christians in the U.S. should pray for with regard to France, Limb said “more or less the same as for the US: respect, dialogue, honesty, justice and that Christian values of love and welcoming others prevail.”
Dauner added, “Please pray that the Lord use these events and the reaction of his children here to bring many back to Jesus!”
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