“In order that the work may go forward in all its branches, God calls for youthful vigor, zeal and courage. He has chosen the youth to aid in the advancement of His cause. To plan with clear mind and execute with courageous hand demands fresh, uncrippled energies… that through the exercise of their powers, through keen thought and vigorous action, they may bring glory to Him and salvation to their fellow-men” Gospel Workers, p. 67.
I’ve had an unshakable burden for Europe for over a decade now. I’ve just never been able to accept the sad and ironic reality that the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation is now so tragically spiritually dormant. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe is not exempt from the desperate need for revival. The church in France, I would say, is high on the “needy” list.
Thankfully, God is privy to this need. Though few in number, there is a new wave of on fire Adventist young people there, and they are beginning to make some noise. A group of nine young adults recently organized a late October convocation. I was invited to participate and present at the gathering. The location they were providentially led to was Clermont-Ferrand in central France. This is highly significant. When I learned of the location, it occurred to me that this town’s legacy hinted at what God was up to.
Clermont-Ferrand is the birthplace of the French mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal, who was born nearly four hundred years ago. He is widely considered one of the great figures in Western intellectual history. He invented the calculating machine while still a teenager, the barometer, the hydraulic press, the syringe and is also credited with inventing the wristwatch. But he was so much more than an inventor. He was a brilliant and creative mathematician, and is regarded as the founder of probability and statistic theory. His many contributions have made a significant impact in the world.
But, all this aside, the most impressive thing about him was that he was a young man who was on fire for the Gospel. Having had a dramatic encounter with God (what he afterward would always refer to as his “night of fire”), he was able to use his influence to bear testimony to the world. He wrote that, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” His life and legacy has set many hearts ablaze for God and has inspired Christian thinkers for four centuries. And this little, seemingly unimportant town in central France was his stomping grounds.
What a fitting place to have held the Génération de Jeunes pour Christ (Generation of Youth for Christ) convention, a gathering called to inspire young people in and around France to fulfill their personal and unique calling in Christian life and ministry.
The chosen theme was Walking in His Footsteps. The conference was attended by up to 180 people representing nearly ten countries including: Switzerland, The Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Portugal and, of course, France.
The attendees were encouraged to participate in an outreach effort in the town center to invite people to a Health Expo. Their efforts brought over 200 people to the program! (Confession: this was much more than I expected.) Along with the Health Expo, there was an evangelistic presentation and a concert that were both geared toward the community. All this resulted in some 75 contacts that will be followed up in the months to come, 75! That’s at least 65 more than I would’ve predicted.
After it was all over, Tiphaine, a 23-year-old student, and one of the key leaders, said, “This has been the most Spirit-filled and powerfully reviving Youth Congress I have been to yet.”
And she’s not alone on that.
Those young people will remember this conference. They will remember the closing day when people were led to their knees, weeping and pleading with God for revival. They will remember that they stood to commit this next year of their lives to pursue training in ministry, that they might be better used in the furtherance of the kingdom of God. They will remember how God spoke to them there.
I sincerely hope that what I experienced in Clermont-Ferrand was just a beginning––just a taste of the energy, commitment and sacrifice that we will witness in the months and years to come. I hope that France will yield 100 committed young Adventists where now there is but one.
And that we would hear of a new breed of fresh Blaise Pascals, for God only knows how much France needs them.
God, please set France ablaze with your Spirit and your Son.