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Gilles & Myriam Bonvallat first worked with AIM in Zaire, and then in Rwanda from 1997 to 2013. Now they’re heading up AIM’s mobilisation work in francophone Europe. Here they discuss the challenges ahead.
Equipping Francophone Europe for Mission
After more than 15 years in Africa we prayerfully made the hard decision to return to Switzerland. Our hearts were very sad but very peaceful at the same time! We realised that our family was facing a huge and painful transition. Our dream and desire was to remain involved in mission, so it was a great answer to prayer when AIM Europe asked Gilles to represent AIM in francophone Europe (France, Switzerland, Belgium and others). AIM is currently working in more than 14 francophone countries in Africa and the need for francophone missionaries on the field is real!
Back in france
Jessica Goldschmidt is back in France for her first home assignment after three years in Kigali, Rwanda. She was involved in the 3DCC camps ministry, and in the ‘WHY WAIT?’ project training school teachers with a Biblical based life skill curriculum.
What did you learn?
This might seem obvious, but just like a bottle can only pour drink into a glass if the bottle actually has something in it, so can we only share God’s truth with others if we have something in us to share; so we need to keep taking the time to fill ourselves with God’s truth – I can get caught up in ‘doing’ and need to learn to give relationships the right place!
Are you going back?
Yes, I’m planning to go back after this first home assignment; I don’t think my time there is done yet! I desire to see youth in Rwanda committing their lives to Christ and truly living as children of God. The camp ministry I’m involved in is one way of doing this and also walking alongside young women.
“I will make a way…”
This totally new assignment requires new skills, which equals a great challenge! But only a few weeks after our return God spoke to us strongly through a promise from Isaiah 43:18-19: “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
Indeed, France can look like a spiritual desert. Establishing mature churches in France is such a challenge that some French church leaders seem to have forgotten that ’mission’ is not about France only, but unto the ends of the earth! The lack of interest for mission rests on a lack of vision and a lack of relevant information about the great things that God is doing in Africa. For this, we urgently need to work on media tools in French. But there is hope; we’ve met a number of young people passionate about Jesus and interested in bringing his love to unreached people groups.
We’re now based in a small town close to Geneva. God has provided for us in many ways. Early on he opened unique opportunities for us to be part of important youth gatherings, to meet with other mission agencies, and to meet key people in the francophone mission world. Our desire is to ‘contaminate’ church and youth leaders with a renewed vision and passion for mission and AIM’s work.
God blessed us with our first long term AIM candidate recently. Geneva Bible Institute has also welcomed our vision for a four-year transcultural missiology training that should begin in September 2015. God is doing new things! He started long before we arrived in Geneva, and we rejoice to enter in his plan, to discover new paths in wilderness and new rivers in the desert…