France Conference[b]Vivienne Hatton[/b]Vivienne Hatton

The French Baptist Women’s Union began in 1958. One of its aims is to encourage women in the Baptist churches to get to know one another both in the local church and beyond. To this end, a national ‘get-together’ is held annually, over a weekend, usually around the beginning of October.

The programme consists of worship, teaching, testimonies and so much more beside, including of course, plenty of moments to drink coffee, chat and laugh together.

From 30thSeptember-2ndOctober we met together at the International Centre, Le Rocheton, at La Rochette, near Melun. The theme was ‘Let Yourselves be Guided by Love and be Servants of One Another’, based on Galatians 5: v.13. Seventy-nine women took part, coming from 23 different churches.

Our speaker was Dimitrina (Didi) Oprenova, president of the Bulgarian Baptist Women’s Union. She also shares in pastoral ministry with her husband Teddi in First Baptist Church, Sofia in Bulgaria. The Lord really used Didi to bring us much rich teaching.

Didi Oprenova and Fabienne Seguin (president)Didi Oprenova and Fabienne Seguin (president)

She reminded us of how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, one of the most humiliating of tasks, to prove His love for us. (1 John 4: v.10) The love we’ve received from God we must give in service to others. We show that love by humbling ourselves in service.

Didi also reminded us of Jesus’ call to be salt and light to the world. Salt which has lost its savour has lost its identity. We’re called to be bold, bringing our savour to the world around us and perhaps challenging some of the standards the world has and by caring for those society often rejects. She told an amusing but powerful story of the sun and a cave, to illustrate the power of light. The sun and the cave were friends. The sun lived in the light but the cave lived in darkness. They often talked together and one day the cave asked the sun what light was. The sun invited the cave to visit him and in doing so the cave saw the wonderful light. In his turn, the sun asked the cave what darkness was and the cave suggested a return visit. When the sun entered the cave he couldn’t see any darkness. ‘Come a bit further in’, said the cave. But the sun still couldn’t see the darkness!

Some of the participantsSome of the participants

The light of Jesus in us is always stronger than the darkness. We’re the light of the world and our homes, our churches and our whole lives should shine out with that light and the light will draw others to Jesus.

We were also privileged to hear the testimonies of two ladies present. Monique Chevalier, a young woman from Limoges was drawn to see the young women prostitutes who congregate around the station. Her heart was burdened for them, many from other countries and she began to reach out to them, even to begin learning a bit of Bulgarian in order to speak to some of them, shining the light of Jesus in the darkness around that station. Following her testimony we had group discussions, talking about the needs of women who are trafficked. Some said afterwards, ‘how good it was to face up to a subject that is often taboo.’

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The second testimony was given by Marie-Thérèse Prunier, a lady who had known God’s deep healing in her life and had gone on, together with her husband, to serve God as a volunteer on the Logos, one of the ships belong to O.M. (Operation Mobilization). She hadn’t thought she had any specific skills to offer but found that as she helped those on board with simple sewing tasks, her room became a place where women could unburden themselves and she could be an encouragement to them. More light shining out!

Discussion in groupsDiscussion in groups

Our weekend was one of great inspiration and encouragement to many. One of the best comments afterwards was, ‘if I arrived with certain (even subconscious) expectations, I didn’t leave the same as I arrived’. A life-changing time – and that’s our hope for each time we meet for our annual get-together, that it will be life-changing for all those who attend, that God will use all we do, and minister to us through His Holy Spirit.

The date is fixed for this year’s encounter, will you please pray for the committee (see photo) as we prepare for it, that we’ll hear what God wants to bring to the women of France?

 

Vivienne Hatton

 

The Committee elected in October 2011The Committee elected in October 2011