Paris church celebrates its 25th anniversary
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Paris, France
Recently, the French congregation of "L'Eglise du Nazareen" celebrated its 25th anniversary with a major revival event at the central church in downtown Paris. Oliver Phillips, director of Mission Support USA/Canada, spoke at the three day event last November, with services packed out throughout the weekend.
This church facility houses three congregations managed by Pastor Valentin. His congregation primarily addresses the Haitian culture, while another congregation is principally directed to French nationals. On Sunday afternoons, an Arabic-language congregation meets in the facility. However, for this event, the first two congregations met jointly, with attendances of 200 or more, assembling together people from the Cape Verde Islands, Martinique, Senegal, Brazil, Haiti and, of course, native French citizens.  
The following is a description of the Sunday evening service:
The sanctuary was fully packed and the congregation sang for the next hour perhaps 15 different standard worship songs but in French and with semi-subdued instrumentation. It was beautiful. By the time we moved into songs about the 'Army of God,' the congregation was rocking in unison, moving to the right and left, and turn arounds, cheers, handclapping, and unbounded joy in the faces of the celebrants. The service flowed seamlessly from joy to joint prayer, to the sobriety of Scripture reading, with an unusual freshness and dignity. Oliver was having a spiritual "high" as were we all. It was kinetic energy synchronized beautifully.
When Oliver finally got up to preach, he said he was disappointed that there was no Jamaican music (he being from Trinidad in the Caribbean). Without a pause, the congregation moved into reggae rendition of one of the choruses.
With the echo of those sounds he was ready to preach. His theme was "What to do when you don't know what to do?" sprinkled with personal illustration, Scripture, and clear mandates drawn from the story of the army host that surrounded the lonely Elijah - "There are more of us than of them."
Again an unrestrained Oliver is an adventure. The congregation stays totally involved as he drags a chair up front and calls out a boy to sit in it, as a gesture of the army of protection around him. It is pure theatre.
Again the altar call is given and the congregation pushes forward. We are asked to pray for many of them, and to lay hands on them, with an intensity rarely experienced. Then as people settle back in their seats, two drunks from the bar across the street are escorted forward and we have another siege of prayer, then songs, then words of appreciation.
For all who participated, it was a memorable weekend, in a part of the world seldom heard from for its religious spontaneity and depth. And to think that this church is located just within a mile of the sex district of the city, just down the street from the Moulin Rouge and Pigalles, notable dens of temptation and sin. The Church of the Nazarene is alive and well in downtown Paris.
--NCN News submissions (Slideshow available)
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