Dispatch France 2015: Traveling for the Institute
Another airport, another jet, another flight for the Bible Institute. I think of entering an airport as being swallowed up into the system. Sooner or later, the system spits you out at the other end, usually with your luggage. This time it spit me out at Charles de Gaulle International, with my mommy in tow. My dad died a couple of months ago, and she wanted a change of scenery, so she decided to join me. I came to teach young leaders how to defend their faith in the face of generationally entrenched atheism and the ever-encroaching threat of Islamic terrorism. There’s a spiritual battle going on in the streets of Paris, and the evil one currently has the upper hand. My students, mostly twenty and thirtysomethings, are the last line of defense. These young folks are the very future of European Christianity. If they fail here, all will be lost. They not only have to hold onto what precious little ground the Church still possesses, but they also have to take back ground that has been lost over the centuries to the Enlightenment, apathy, too many wars, and who knows what else. Less than two percent of Europe’s population are born-again evangelical Christians.
At the breaks, hands shoot up. Questions come fast and furious. The students are decidedly not having trouble with the material, which I am delivering through a series of three 4-hour lectures in Christian Apologetics: Arguments for the Existence of God, Evidence for the Veracity of the Bible, and a Defense of Christ and the Resurrection. The students are biblically grounded and doctrinally astute, so the material comes easy for them. I can tell from their questions that they’re experienced in combat. They’re on the battlefield of the streets of Paris engaging their culture every day. It’s just that they are not adequately equipped for an environment so hostile to Christianity. They need this training. They hang on every word. A young woman wants to know how to explain the concept of God to her Buddhist employer. A young man wants to know what to say to his Muslim friend who claims the Bible is corrupted and full of inaccuracies and legend. They all want to learn the skills of handling themselves in spiritually adversarial situations. They’re soaking it up.
On the jet home now, I am reflecting on my encounters with the students and smiling with tears. The French woman next to me watches as I write this post and keep drying my eyes. I’ve got Smokey Robinson playing in my ears, and my head is bobbing up and down with the beat. A sense of satisfaction and accomplishment washes over me. I’ve made a difference for the kingdom. I’ve trained front line soldiers who are taking the fight to the enemy. I came here to join the resistance and to lend a hand in the battle for the streets of Paris. These dynamic young leaders are retaking their streets, one house at a time. And World Hope’s got their back. This is why I do what I do.
Noel R. Vincent, Associate Director
World Hope Bible Institute