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Overcome evil with good

The attacks in Paris on the morning of 7th January and in the days that followed have shaken France’s capital city and shocked the world. In minutes two masked gunmen armed with AK-47s had brought carnage to the most unlikely of places, a bohemian magazine editor’s office in the centre of Paris. Two police officers, one of them a Muslim, were gunned down in the street, and four hostages were killed in a siege at a Jewish supermarket. The grisly reality of life in the Middle East and North East Nigeria has been visited on one of Europe’s major cities.


James Hammond, serving with GBM in Bordeaux, described the reaction to these events. ‘It certainly shook France pretty hard as it has the rest of the western world.  There is still much more debate to follow and that means there will be lots of opportunities to talk about how the gospel answers the problems we're current facing. Edouard Nelson pastors Eglise des Ternes in Paris, commented on the spiritual impact of these events. ‘In the last few days, these events have provided some unusual opportunities to share elements of the gospel with neighbours, one in particular who has tended to be rather closed to talking about the gospel. Please pray that God would bring good out of the evil here.’ (See the outline of Edouard’s sermon at bottom of page)



Hannah Prior is serving an apprenticeship with GBM in Le Pré St Gervais, two miles north of the Jewish supermarket in Porte de Vincennes. She writes ‘I was struck by James 1:13-15 ‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.’ It’s so easy to forget that that my times are in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15) and to make my plans as if nothing can change them.  These events have made me remember how brief and uncertain this life is, but be grateful and joyful for the unchanging, eternal God that we have.  May this drive us all to love and worship Him more and may many others be challenged to rethink things and come to God.’


The National Council of Evangelicals of France (CNEF) issued a statement on the day of the first attack. ‘The unspeakable attacks that occurred at midday against the editorial team of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, saddens the members of the CNEF; we are horrified by this fanaticism…Nothing can justify these barbaric acts that disregard the dignity of human life and flout our republican values…The CNEF is mobilised and more than ever determined to defend liberty of conscience and its corollary the freedom of expression for all.’



The final phrase of the CNEF is significant. Will religious extremism lead to restrictions on what Christians can say about their faith? David Metreau, a Christian journalist who lives in Le Pré St Gervais, comments: ‘I fear that measures that will likely be put into place in the coming weeks will not favour freedom of expression or freedom of worship.  The French state, which has always had an ambiguous relationship with religion, will surely want to exercise more control about happens in mosques, and, in order not to discriminate, will want to keep a watch over what is said and done in churches. Please pray for peace and unity in our country and also for the safety, especially of our Jewish citizens but also that of Muslims, Christians and atheists.’



The week after the attack, Charlie Hebdo magazine published cartoons portraying the prophet Mohammed.  Many Muslims found these to be offensive and in Niger, West Africa, they took out their anger on the small Christian community. Ian Flanders received the following email from a Christian in Niger: ‘I can tell you that the arson attacks orchestrated on the night of the 17th January caused the following losses amongst the Christian community of Niger: Lives lost – 10. Church buildings and homes burnt – 86. Cars burnt – 17. Orphanages burnt – 6. Shops and restaurants burnt – 15. Granaries burnt – 2. Schools burnt – 4. We Christians are looking to our eternal God for his care.  There is no question of us taking revenge.  We pray for God’s help and that these winds of persecution would urge us to deepen the roots of our faith.’ Events in Paris have had an impact well beyond the borders of France, and the Francophone world needs to be much in our prayers.


Read the statement issued by the National Council of Evangelicals of France (CNEF) here.

Back to News…

Sermon Outline – Edouard Nelson.

Eglise Protestante Évangélique Des Ternes. Sunday 11th January 2015.  

‘I introduced my sermon (on Mark 6.1-29) on Sunday morning with five biblical responses to the situation:

1. We must weep with those who weep.

2. We must proclaim a just God who will bring perfect justice one day, as part of the biblical consolation to those who weep. Rom 2.16 tells us that the God who will judge perfectly is the gospel.

3. We have a deeply "pessimistic" view of human nature, and so, theologically, we are not surprised by the evil that men commit. Our own hearts are deeply corrupted by sin.

4. The God of the gospel is the one who can help us walk toward real forgiveness of those who do evil. The gospel is good news for those who have suffered - we have resources in Jesus that make humanly-impossible forgiveness possible.

5. Jesus died, historically, literally, in the place of a terrorist, Barabbas. And theologically, he died so that even those who commit murder might be forgiven, if they turn to him.

I pointed out that Mk 6 tells the story of someone who spoke "offensive" words and was rewarded with a violent death. And his story prefigures that of Jesus, killed for his words.’