Yes, it was absolutely crazy to go to Paris for the weekend when we are trying to sort out our furniture and pack up 30 years of memories prior to moving house; and we are going away for nine weeks on Friday to the USA and Mexico. I feel permanently out of breath and my brains are scrambled. But this date has been on our calendar for months, and hey, it’s Paris! No-one passes up an opportunity to visit this most beautiful and romantic of cities. Do they? Moi, je t’aime Paris!
So on Thursday, we left Brighton by train and embarked upon the Eurostar at St Pancras, the high speed train which goes through the channel tunnel straight to the Gare du Nord in 2 and a half hours.
What a fabulous, civilised, uncomplicated way to travel! Beats the crowds and indignities of airports, the frustration of congested roads, and the seasickness of ferries hands down.
We were met at the terminus by our friend Gordon Neal who drove us along by the Seine, past the Louvre, Pont Neuf and Notre Dame, and a fine view of the Eiffel Tower to his home in Issy. Gordon is fluent in French and formerly lived in France. In 2007 while at the Brighton conference, he had a vision one night in which he knew God was calling him back to Paris to church plant. The next day, as he was translating for a prophetic seminar, he was called forward and three notable prophets powerfully prophesied over him, repeating, confirming and enlarging upon what God had already told him.
When Gordon finally hauled himself off the floor he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he had to go. He was a business man living in beautiful Montreux, Switzerland, at the time. To relocate to Paris has been an enormously time consuming, energy sapping, finance swallowing operation. But he and his wife Kerry have accomplished it, and others have joined them, such as George and Gill Tee from Coventry. Currently, around 90 people now meet regularly. The main reason Terry and I went to Paris was so that Terry could preach to this embryonic church the foundational doctrines of grace and the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
But before the church gathered on the Saturday and Sunday, we had Friday to soak up the ambience! So the four of us took the metro to Montmartre and had a happy time wandering through the steep cobbled streets, relishing the sights: typically Parisian tall apartment buildings with their shuttered windows and attics in the roofs, the café tables on the sidewalks, and the square where passers-by were having their portraits painted. We poked around in the artists’ shops and ate a leisurely lunch (Terry ate snails) at the Auberge de la Bonne Franquette, the very tavern where such luminaries as Degas, Renoir, Matisse, Monet, Sisley and Toulouse Lautrec enjoyed convivial meals and conversations.
The autumnal sun had now broken through as we approached Sacre Coeur and the view from this high spot over Paris was breathtaking. The organ was rolling out sonorous notes as we made a brief visit inside the majestic basilica. Feeling somewhat subdued by its massiveness, we emerged and took the funicular down to the Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge.
Ah, Paris! Wonderful in the spring, as we know, but sweet also in the falling autumn leaves.
But more exciting is the vision of a vigorous community of believers, so pulsating with life that it overflows into multiple churches which will affect the culture of this great city. On Sunday morning, about 10 responded to the teaching and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and others were healed of various painful conditions. From small springs flow mighty rivers; from acorns grow huge oak trees.
We believe in a God who has told us to dream big dreams and to have faith that moves mountains. I can believe in a big vision for Paris. I can pray for that.
Will you pray for Paris too?