Reflections on Five Years at Gif sur Yvette
Christine Kling reflects on her time with BMS as she prepares to leave BMS World Mission for a new chaplaincy role at the end of July. Before returning to her native France as a BMS Missionary, Christine was a member of Southside Christian Fellowship in Ayr for a number of years. Christine also studied at the Scottish Baptist College, graduating with a degree in Theology, before feeling called to serve God in France with BMS.
Five years ago, I was commissioned at the Scottish Baptist Assembly to serve in France with BMS and in few weeks I will be leaving BMS to take on a new role as full time chaplain for a French Protestant Association, working in the South of France.
It seems it was yesterday that I was leaving Scotland – my spiritual homeland – to return to my homeland but in a whole new context for me.
These five years have been filled in by many projects and adventures. All started with the organization of the first and so far, unique French Baptist Convention – the second one was planned for 2020 and cancelled with the pandemic. With very limited resources, it was a very demanding project to manage. Despite these difficulties we all kept special memories of these two days and how it was a transforming experience for many. After the organization of the convention, I moved to a role of associate pastor in Massy, learning in this very diverse church the role of a pastor in Paris area. During this time, I had the opportunities to work with another protestant church and together we created a day shelter for vulnerable women. I discovered the deep poverty and the sense of hopelessness of these women coming from different background and countries. (https://www.bmsworldmission.org/news/the-pastor-the-passion-and-the-escaped-slave/)
Them, the French Baptist Association asked me to explore the idea of re-dynamizing a small church nearby Massy, at Gif sur Yvette. It took me a couple of months before taking the decision to move there, hoping, and praying for God’s help and support in what was somehow a daunting experience. The first nine months were very difficult and then one by one new members started to join. The presence of two action teams, one for three months and the second one for 5 months, was very precious. They helped us to reach out the local community and to make the church more visible and attractive. Their energy, joy and youth were also communicative to the members of the church and people attending the English clubs. We also had the visit of West Malling Baptist church who worked hard in helping us to redecorate the church. Fresh painting and a new setting gave to the church a sense of a new beginning.
The pandemic unfortunately stopped our different initiatives. Nevertheless, we were able to maintain the life of the church using technologies and everyone, including the oldest one, became familiar with videoconferencing. We saw new people joining the church and becoming members.
Without the English clubs and other evangelisation projects, I had more time for chaplaincy at the local care home. I was authorized to visit the elderlies during the pandemic, and I discovered the joy and pain of serving God in this environment: for someone like me not really enjoying solitude or staying at home, being able to work at the local care home during the pandemic was a real blessing. It was and it is also a good place to witness the love of God and to encourage Christians at the workplace. (https://www.bmsworldmission.org/news/covid-care-home-wake-call-west/)
There were many other adventures and projects along the way, like speaking at the religious program of the French radio, organizing an exhibition on MLK in the local church and the projection of a movie on the theme of racism at the local cinema and, last and not least, visiting many churches across the UK during home assignment.
You were part of this adventure. Your prayers sustained us along the way, and probably hundreds of people were by one way or another impacted with what we did and shared. Thank you again for all your support. Please keep in your prayers the small church at Gif as we seek with the leadership team and with Philip and Rosemary Halliday (BMS mission workers) the best way forward. Scotland will always be in my heart, and I will be pleased to return for holidays and visiting friends. Auld lang syne my friends, auld lang syne, May God bless you.