41 years: a lease whose origin takes us back to 1978! In June of that year I took part for the first time in an OM summer evangelistic campaign at Luxeuil-les-Bains (Haute-Saône). I followed that up with my first full year with OM at Fontenay-sous-Bois, working with Farel Publications which was at that time an off-shoot of OM France.
This was the start of living in community – firstly with a group of lads at Fontenay-sous-Bois (1978-81) , a period of which I retain great memories, both of the group and the excellent teaching. We had the joy of seeing a number of people turn to the Lord, and who are still walking with Him.
I can’t help mentioning a France-Senegal expedition which took place after my time in the Paris region in a Ford truck, roughly adapted for crossing the Sahara.
After that, it was the adventure of pioneer work in Montreuil-sous-Bois. It was destined to last 17 years with Bernard and Rosemarie Graessel. During this time I worked in various roles (team member, team leader, team leader for those involved in yearlong works in various towns in France). This period proved to be exceptionally rich as it allowed me to work alongside pioneers for whom I have a deep respect.
My life was completely changed by meeting Ase in 1981, and our subsequent marriage in 1983. We have 4 children : Mireille, Olivier, Nicolas and Louise. All 4 are married, and we have 4 grand-daughters. My wife has been a constant support for me in working among the lost. I can’t think of a single occasion when she has complained about the amount of time I was spending with them. I don’t believe that I would be where I am today without her.
A “minor” deviation was our year spent on the “Doulos” from 1985 to 1986. (a former OM ship). Ironically this voyage actually served to reinforce our calling for France. During this period there was one over-riding burden in my heart : “Proclaiming the Gospel is my supreme task, above all where the name of Christ is unknown.”
In 1998 we arrived in Nantes in order to invest with others in this region where the needs are great. Numerous OM teams came and went whilst helping the pioneers in their church-planting ministry. Faced with a diminishing number of team members, in 2007, the Lord placed on mine and several others’ hearts, to begin a work on the Ile de Nantes.
In 2009 in an unexpected way, the Lord placed us in a surprising ministry among women who were victims of human trafficking, and in particular, prostitution.
How long the road travelled since then! One thing I think of above all when I look back: “It’s not a work of man, but the work of a mighty God. May the entire glory go to Him!”
“You will not accomplish this by power, nor by strength, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts” Zacharia 4.6
I’ll never forget the first time I went into Nantes’ streets by night. All these young women – some with faces like children – standing in the cold night air, waiting for clients. I’ll never forget the reality of that first night : they were all foreigners, for the most part from English-speaking Africa. I’ll never forget the reaction of these women when I introduced myself as “the local pastor”. I’ll never forget that first night without sleep, asking myself : “What are these women doing here, in the streets of Nantes? How did they get here? And above all, why are they here when they give the appearance of knowing God?”
It has been said : “Statistics don’t shed tears”
In the course of our contacts with these young women, and while relationships of trust were being created between us, we began to discover the depths of darkness. It’s an explosive cocktail of lies, love of money, sexual exploitation, violence of all kinds, and witchcraft – in particular among those women of African backgrounds.
“In order to stand up to this network, we need God’s network”. This statement expressed by one of our volunteers, perfectly sums up what’s taken place over these last 10 years.
Thank you Lord for my wife Ase who has supported me from the very beginning in this unique ministry. Thank you Lord for all these volunteers who have joined us early in order to meet these young women where they are – namely in the streets. During these past ten years, I’ve calculated that we’ve come into contact with 600 women.
Thank you Lord for all these faithful intercessors who pray for us as we go out, as well as for those specific matters concerning the women. These prayers remind me of something one of the young women said to me on one occasion : “Every day I pray that God would send someone to help me”.
Thank you Lord for those times spent together around the Word of God – times when we have preached the Gospel to them – as well as times when we have taught them to obey everything Jesus has commanded, in line with Matthew 28.20. For us, this is the essential, because real freedom is only to be found in a personal and living relationship with God through Jesus-Christ alone.
Thank you Lord for all the partner churches in Nantes, as well as all the brothers and sisters everywhere in the world, who have supported us without fail for 10 years.
Thank you Lord for the Freedom Network (Réseau Liberté) which includes today the cities of Paris, Sarcelles, Lyon, Toulouse, Montpellier, Nimes, Beziers, Avignon, Marseille, Grenoble, Strasbourg, Colmar, Bordeaux, Nantes, Angers, Rouen and Luxembourg. Who will make a stand in the other towns?
Thank you Lord for all these women who have experienced deliverance, conversion, who have proved faithful to God, and who have committed themselves by the hundreds in an active manner in their respective churches.
Thank you Lord for those who are on the way out of prostitution, who have had the courage to denounce their networks, who are now re-training, working, or have started a family.
I finish with a message, taken from so many others , from A. which came into my hands just last week : “I don’t know how to thank you. Without you and God by my side, I have no idea what my life would now be like, and what sort of mess I’d be in. If I had a mouth on every part of my body, that would still be inadequate to say Thank you. You have helped me enormously. I pray that God will continue to bless you, and that He will protect you for ever.”This touching message is also addressed to all who read this letter. May God bless every one of you.
Retirement is drawing ever nearer, planned for July 2022 for me (Ase has already retired). And so, at this time we are praying for discernment of what God’s will is for the future of this ministry. Join with us in prayer that God provides us with his strength daily and his wisdom in the face of the various challenges that come our way.
Marcel & Åse Georgel