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An Unexpected Outreach: French Classes at the Lighthouse of Friendship

An Unexpected Outreach: French Classes at the Lighthouse of Friendship

Last summer, Julia*, a Christar worker in France, asked God to bring 10 North African women to her literacy class at the Lighthouse of Friendship. He answered … but He didn’t give her quite what she asked for.

God’s response exceeded Julia’s request. But the more than 20 ladies He brought to her class weren’t North African. Nor were they illiterate. They were Albanian-speaking asylum seekers who could already read and write. These women, most of whom are Muslims, were literate in Albanian, but they didn’t know the language of their host country. Julia immediately saw a new opportunity for ministry: beginners’ French classes!

“Beaucoup de problèmes”

Twice a week for up to two hours, Julia teaches basic French at the Lighthouse of Friendship, a hub for ministry to least-reached people in her community. Over 20 women are now on the French class roster. One of the most faithful attendees travels an hour each way to come to class.

“We are honestly blown away that God has brought all of these nominally Muslim Albanians to the Lighthouse of Friendship,” Julia says. “God has really given me a love for these ladies.”

Some of Julia’s students left their home country in search of medical care for themselves or their children, or because they want their children to get a better education. Still others fled due to blood feuds, and know that they will be killed if they return home. All come in need of the hope of Christ.

“One of the first phrases they learn [in French] is ‘beaucoup de problèmes,’ which means ‘lots of problems,'” Julia shares, “followed by beaucoup de stress.”

More than a French class

Although these women have other opportunities to learn French in the local community, they’re drawn to Julia’s class. Not only is the cost low (the center charges a nominal fee for those who can pay), but the atmosphere is relatively casual and classes meet just two times a week.

Julia uses a story from the Bible during each class, and has been able to build relationships and share God’s love with the ladies who attend. She and other Christar workers at the Lighthouse of Friendship have had opportunities to pray for and with these ladies, to give them parenting advice and to help them with some of their material needs.

The fact that the classes are held at the Lighthouse of Friendship is also a big draw, as the ladies who take part in them also attend other activities at this ministry center and have built relationships there. Many of them regularly participate in ladies’ nights and some of their children have joined the gospel choir.

Miriam’s story

Miriam, one of Julia’s students, came to France with her husband and daughter after seeking asylum in another country. Since they had already sought asylum elsewhere, they weren’t able to take advantage of the free housing offered to asylum seekers in France. They lived in a park for six months and now take shelter in an abandoned house that they share with other Albanians.

Julia shares, “Miriam has a very sweet spirit and regularly reminds us that she is Muslim. She also reminds us that it doesn’t matter that she is Muslim and we are Christian, [that] we can all get along. When I have asked her why she continues to put herself through staying here in France she says that all of the issues are worth her daughter getting a better education. We have been able to pray with her and give her blankets, and there is always warm coffee here waiting for her.”

Miriam has a hard time learning French, but she’s improved a lot, as have other women in the class. Julia gives the credit to the Lord.

While her teaching opportunity didn’t turn out as expected, Julia is excited to see how God has been working through it to reach women in need of Christ. Recently, Julia shared the gospel with the women in her class. “I believe that some of them heard the gospel for the first time,” she says. “God has obviously been working in these ladies’ lives. Pray that they would come to know Jesus as Savior.”

Participate by Praying:

  • Praise God for providing unexpected opportunities to reach out to Albanian asylum-seekers.
  • Pray for the women in Julia’s French class, asking that they’ll understand and embrace the gospel.
  • Ask God to work in Miriam’s heart to bring her and her family to faith in Christ.
  • Pray for wisdom for Christar workers at the Lighthouse of Friendship as they reach out to asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants of many nationalities.

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