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Christians converse after Sunday worship at the South Paris Church of Christ | Photo by Erik Tryggestad

Seeing the Lights of Paris

PARIS — Returning from Africa is a surreal experience. You say goodbye to brothers and sisters of the humblest means, the kindest people in the world, and board a plane as the sun sets.

Eiffel Tower

Obligatory Eiffel Tower tourist photo.

One sleepless night later, you’re in Europe, groggily walking through a palatial duty-free shop to reach your connecting flight. The shelves are stocked with opulence — diamond watches, Prada handbags and, of course, those giant Toblerones.

A lot of us who do Africa trips fly back to the U.S. from Europe. But after my recent visit to Chad with Hope Springs International, I arranged a short layover in Paris. So did a few of my teammates, and I met up with them in the afternoon at their Airbnb rental.

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Unfortunately, they had been treated rudely by several people as they made their way from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the apartment, bearing their luggage and the dental equipment they had used to clean teeth and fill cavities in Chad. (It was heavy. I put one of the cases into an overhead bin on the plane. Pretty sure I pulled something.)

Here, in the plentiful City of Lights, they longed for the kindness they had experienced in a dusty land of want.

I had a different experience when I visited the Eglise du Christ Paris Sud, the South Paris Church of Christ that meets on rue Moulin-Vert.

South Paris Church of Christ

South Paris Church of Christ.

I was late for Sunday worship (I got in the wrong line to buy train tickets at the airport), but they welcomed me warmly. 

I had met minister Robert Limb and his wife, Evelyne, at the European Vision Workshop in Slovakia last year. Robert Limb is “English by chance, French by choice” and “Christian by conviction,” he says. At the workshop, he gave an incredible sermon on “post-Christian” Europe. In Paris, he translated for me when the church asked me to talk about our brethren in Chad.

An amazing potluck followed (complete with a selection of fine cheeses). Thankfully, brother Limb pulled me away at just the right time to hear a vocal group of young Christians rehearse. The Ré-Unis-sons sounded amazing as they practiced a French song, Unité, and a familiar tune, “Magnifique Est Ton Saint Nom” (known to us as “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”).

The whole church sounded amazing, by the way, especially for a group of only about 25 — some from France, some from Haiti. After lunch, as I grabbed my bag and headed for the Eiffel Tower, they sang me on my way with a French rendition of “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”


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From Erik: After our flight from Africa landed in Paris early Sunday, I traveled to Moulin-Vert to worship with the Eglise du Christ Paris Sud (South Paris Church of Christ) and received the warmest of welcomes. I was happy to be asked to speak about the work in Chad during Bible class. Enjoyed a fellowship meal of Caribbean and European dishes (plus a selection of cheeses, of course). What this congregation lacks in numbers they more than make up for in beautiful singing. Merci!#parisfrance #egliseduchrist #churchofchrist #postchristianeurope

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As you travel, whether in Africa, Europe or just two towns over, I pray that you’ll make the effort to spend time with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let them bless you.

To my Parisian hosts, merci. You are the true Lights of your city.

ERIK TRYGGESTAD is president and CEO of The Christian Chronicle. Contact [email protected] to find out how you can support this ministry. 

Filed under: Church of Christ Insight Insight Opinion Paris Ré-Unis-sons Top Stories

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