There have been more terrorist attacks within Europe during the first half of 2016 than in the previous two years combined. The situation is grave yet there is hope even in the midst of tragedy. Here’s what some of Elim’s key men and women on the ground say about the recent Paris terror attacks…
Sarah John, Elim missionary to Cologne, Germany
‘I am totally paranoid. If I see anyone who looks suspicious in the train I’ll change compartments.’ That’s what my friend said while we were chatting at the playground yesterday while the children were playing in blissful ignorance. We have those conversations pretty much every time we meet now, since attacks in France and Germany have seemed to become almost regular happenings.
There have been attacks in large cities, in villages, in shopping centres, in churches, at football matches and concerts. Some were so-called ISIS terrorist attacks and some of them random shooting sprees. It doesn’t seem like there is any place that is safe. It could happen anywhere at any time, without any warning. I am French, I live in Germany, I have two beautiful, small children. My husband and I pastor a church.
”An incredible time of opportunity for the gospel”
Dom also works in the biggest shopping centre in our city and my son’s kindergarten is just opposite it.
I think what my friend said pretty much sums up the general attitude around here. Where is this all leading? Do I need to fear for my family and my own life? Are we going to be able to stop the terror? I could indeed become paranoid myself. This is exactly what terror intends – for people to live in fear. I believe we must decide not to let these thoughts in.
We are shocked and devastated by these acts. We not only mourn the innocent lives of children, mothers and fathers. We also mourn the loss of something very precious here. Something which we know tens of thousands of Europeans have fought for in the last centuries – peace and safety.
I believe, however, that the real danger we are facing is to let fear build walls in our hearts.
Walls that will exclude people who are different, that will hinder conversations and any exchange between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Walls like this will only produce more fear, more suspicion. It will create a vicious cycle.
As followers of Jesus, we have to be intentional, as individuals and as churches, to embrace and include those who have themselves fled terror and have come into our countries. Yes, a small percentage of them may be here with evil intentions. But our strongest weapon in the face of such evil is relationships, and it is the gospel.
I am convinced we have a huge task as the Church; not only to welcome people in, but also to actively seek them and invite them and through love and kindness show them Jesus.
Luc Favre, Leader, Elim France
With the killing of a priest during mass and the recent scenes of the lorry being driven through the streets of Nice, terrorist attacks in France are intensifying and nobody can imagine how or where the next one will be.
It is estimated that there are 30,000 radicalised individuals who are currently in France, which means there is literally a ‘time bomb’ in the country.
God is clearly using this to speak to us. Over the last number of years we have seen many leave the Church and there are so many church buildings that are no longer being used.
However, after the recent attacks we are starting to see people coming back, churches are being filled with people who are coming to pray. Even our president, Monsieur François Hollande, went to the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris with the Cardinal André 23rd, a thing that would have been impossible in a normal setting as the separation between State and Church is so strong in France.
For us, we know that we must not let intimidation and fear grip us. On the contrary, we are called to love, as perfect love cast out fear.
The day after the killing of Father Jacques Hamel by socalled Islamic State, Pope Francis addressed the nation during the speech by the Cardinal and he said ‘we are in front of a choice: to believe in a God of death or in a God of life’.
It seems to us to be a time of incredible opportunity for the gospel and we would really value your prayers.
Rich Ellerington, Elim missionary to France
Please pray for us; pray for the kids of our nation, who are being conditioned by fear that will very quickly turn to hate if something doesn’t change.
Pray also for the Catholic Church and all the church leaders of France.
We stand for the love, peace, hope and forgiveness that is found in Christ. We will continue to love others and open our hearts to the world.