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Joyeux Noël – the gospel in France

Two years ago, the Judkins family left the rural French countryside to begin a new ministry near Paris, where Peter helps lead a local church and his wife Claire-Lise works as a midwife.

Sent by Christ Church Balham, the couple have a passion for sharing the gospel through their work and with people they meet in their daily lives.

For many years, the family were based in Madagascar, where both Peter and Claire-Lise served at the SIM-supported Good News Hospital in Mandritsara and Peter co-led the missionary team.

In 2018, they moved with their two daughters Naomi and Keziah, to the south-west of France to help a budding multicultural church in Castres.

Claire-Lise, Peter, Naomi and Keziah Judkins

“Few French churches are able to support their own pastors, especially small and newly-planted ones,” explains Peter, who helped the Castres church proclaim the gospel in an area where there are only three evangelical churches. “There is a huge need for more gospel-driven churches to be planted in France and for existing churches to be revitalised.”

Evangelical Christians make up only 1.08% of the population in France

Two years later, the family moved to a town specifically built by The Walt Disney Company near its Disneyland Paris resort. Peter is once again leading a relatively new church plant (started six years ago) and seeking to engage the local community and see the gospel grow.

One of Peter’s weekly highlights is volunteering at a council-run project (left) that has various workshops throughout the week, from help with homework and parenting, to French classes for internationals.

“Because of Disney, there is a large international population who live in the area and struggle to integrate due to language difficulties,” he explains.

“It’s encouraging to be part of the wider project and think through how different members of the church could be involved in the various activities offered by the council to support those who might be struggling,” he adds.

Last year, Keziah and mum Claire-Lise hosted a Christmas bake-a-long on Zoom

And despite the challenges of Covid over the past 18 months, the Val d’Europe church is now back in full swing and looking forward to holding its Christmas events that last year had to be held via Zoom.

Plans include:

  • An English-speaking carol service for the anglophones and anglophiles of the area.
  • Potentially leading a Christmas service in the local prison.
  • A Christmas party for the youth group, followed by a Christianity Explored course in the New Year.

The church will hold a short Christmas Eve church service (as the French celebrate Christmas on the 24th) and then the Judkins will host Christmas Day at home with people from the church who don’t have family to go to.

“We enjoy the best of both worlds when it comes to celebrating Christmas,” says Peter. “On Christmas Eve, we celebrate the Réveillon with a short service, then go home to nice food and drink, games, singing carols, and spending time with friends.

“Then on Christmas Day, we celebrate the British way introducing a traditional Christmas roast (with crackers!) to our French friends it’s a great way to celebrate our Saviour’s birth together!”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For ongoing relationships and for increased understanding of the community that the Judkins seek to serve.
  • Give thanks Claire-Lise can share Christ’s love through her work as a community midwife.
  • That many French people will discover Jesus – the Light of the World – this Christmas.

This was posted on 7 December 2021 in Ministry stories.
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