I am overwhelmed by the support that we Parisians have received over the past few days. My Facebook, Twitter, and email have been filled with messages affirming that people are mourning with us and praying for us. Thankfulness does not even begin to describe my sentiment. One of the greatest things about being a Christian is being part of the Church global. This universal Church has actively joined with us in bearing the burdens that this past weekend has brought to Paris and it’s local churches.
I have had many requests from people who want to help us and pray for us, so I decided to write this blog post in an effort to write a well thought-out response to that. My church is Emmanuel International Church (www.eicparis.org). Feel free to learn a bit about us there, and we could certainly use any help from anyone who would be willing to give. For the purpose of this blog, however, I will try highlight some prayer requests that would be common for all of the Christians living here and the churches that they belong to.
First, pray that Christians (including the pastors, like myself) will believe the gospel right now. I know this request may not seem exciting, as this would have been my same prayer request for the church even before the attacks. But this is the most important thing. Every witness that will be given must come from gospel-centered reasoning. If Christians let themselves forget the gospel for a little while, they will be tempted to respond with hatred, judgment, and legalism rather than with humility before God concerning their own sin. This is important not only for the sanctification of the believers here but also for the witness they will have to a lost world. Only when the gospel shows us the seriousness of our own sin can we be genuinely empathetic for a world that includes terrorists. The world needs this empathy now.
Second, pray that Christians will intentionally make themselves available for tough conversations with non-believers. Hard questions surround this event, and believers here must be ready to respond in a confident humility. How could a good God let this happen? Is this event not proof that the world would be better off without religion? What do I do with my fear and hate? Aren’t all religions pretty much the same? These questions will need to be responded to in all of the relationships that these believers have, and many Christians feel inadequate to answer them. Yet the gospel addresses these questions and makes sense of them. Pray that these Christians will be willing to enter in these conversations and trust that the Holy Spirit will give them the answers that they need.
Third, pray that our churches will be united. There is nothing more ugly than a fighting church, and no better witness than a church who loves each other. Let us love each other. Pray that whatever would divide Christ’s body would be seen as secondary before our corporate repentance and witness of the gospel.
Fourth, pray that God will bring people to faith in Christ through the church’s witness. Us Parisian Christians have been praying for Paris for a long time, and the Lord has been moving. In recent years there has been many new churches started by gospel-centered planters and the kingdom has been growing here. While percentage-wise the number of evangelicals is still small, there has been much growth, both in numbers and in reputation, since I moved here 7 years ago. Pray that the Lord will use the past faithful witness of the church in the lives of non-believers to call to mind the present need and the answers that Christ gives.
Fifth, pray that this event will bring more Christians to intentionally move to Paris. We need more churches and church planters, but we also need more Christian businessmen, teachers, engineers, accountants, and any other types of workers to choose to live here for the sake of the gospel. More churches could be started here if there were more Christians to fill them and help them in service and in giving. Someone once asked me what I thought Paris needs the most. I thought for a second, and I responded with just one word: Christians. Why was that my response? Because Christ lives in Christians. Pray that God sends us more.