Sunshine in Marseille

Saturday, Feb. 18, 2006

I am rapidly becoming quite the traveler, by necessity if not always by choice. I spent this week in Marseille, France, working at the IC France office (my “real” job). Before the office moves to Bordeaux and merges with CVA this summer, I need to learn my way around the inventory, the various activities there, and the other staff members.

For now, there is another American missionary couple, Janice and Milan Novick, who are going on furlough shortly (June). They will be changing their job portfolio significantly after their furlough to focus on prayer/ work teams coming to North Africa, but they will still base out of France and work with me, to some extent, in Bordeaux. There is also a fantastic lady, Weléli*, who is a former Muslim from North Africa, now working with the Arabic language branch (translation, correspondence, etc.) of IC France. These three helped train me this week with the resources there for the ministry I will help them with in the future.

IC France, started by Dr. Sobhi Malek, has one objective: the evangelization of the Muslim world. To accomplish that goal, there are various means: radio broadcasts in Arabic, a correspondence course in English, French, and Arabic, a children’s magazine in Arabic, a prayer guide for Christians who want to intercede for Muslims, as well as various cassettes and books on discipleship and Christian living in Arabic and French.

Our future plans are to create a website, with streaming audio programs (sermons, music, testimonies), as well as the entire correspondence course online to eliminate the cost of postage (and potential discovery—for our students in certain, more dangerous countries). We are also developing a “pilot program” in the Bordeaux region to teach Christian laypeople how to reach their Muslim neighbors more effectively. Four Saturdays during the year, we will have teaching seminars and then finish with a plan for them to implement the program in a practical way in their own church. We hope to extend this pilot program to the rest of France in the coming years.

Other than working, I also got to see some friends from language school, who are missionaries with a different denomination, based in the Marseille area. That was a real blessing. We had dinner together on Valentine’s Day to catch up on each other’s experiences both as Americans and as missionaries in France. I also got to watch quite a bit of the winter Olympics, since I was staying with the Novicks, who have cable. I really enjoyed watching our Americans compete, although the commentary was in French and with their own cultural slant. When one commentator enthused, “Now this young lady’s skating has a certain taste, something that one can truly appreciate. It’s like the taste of a fine wine!” I burst out laughing. Only the French would think of that comparison!
*name changed for protection
Ariel Rainey