Jcrois: go make disciples
Annual Conference Challenges French Youth to Take the
"Next Step" in Their Faith
By Dennis Teague
Find out more about Free Will Baptist International Missions at www.fwbgo.com.
I STOOD IN THE DOORWAY listening to words that seemed to come directly from the mission statement of JCrois. A young lady stated that every time she attended the annual youth conference she learned something to help in her Christian life. I listened with interest as she told how the 2006 conference on world religions proved especially helpful in responding to the diverse religions she encountered at the University of Nantes.
JCrois (which means I believe it in English) is an annual youth conference scheduled the last weekend of August in France. Initiated by FWB missionaries with the help of an American team, and in cooperation with other evangelicals in the area, the conference has a two-fold purpose: 1. Give our Christian youth in France answers to today’s questions and 2. Provide opportunities for our Christian students to develop leadership skills through hands-on experience. This year’s conference (August 24-26) focused on daring to speak up for Jesus in our present world.
Seminars equipped and encouraged participants to start conversations with total strangers, use their spiritual gifts to witness, and provided other practical means to share their faith. Three of our more mature young adults, accompanied by one of our leaders, actually went to downtown Nantes and began conversations with total strangers…to tell them about Jesus. Even though no one accepted the Lord, the students exchanged cries of victory.
The conference is for Christians, but we have seen the Lord use JCrois to bring participants to salvation. One young lady, a frequent church attendee, gave her heart to the Lord at the 2006 conference and was back again this year to confirm her decision. Last year, at the end of the conference, another girl shocked us with her confession. Although a professing Christian, she had been contemplating becoming a Buddhist. After our seminars on world religions, she asserted she’d never leave the Lord for Buddhism.
Challenging our youth to total commitment to the Lord is always part of our program. Every year invitations to respond are issued. Typically, around 20 young people make some kind of spiritual commitment during the conference.
Our Nantes and St. Sébastien FWB churches join us for the closing service on Sunday morning. At this year’s conference, something extraordinary happened. As attendees were invited to commit to fully serve the Lord, we saw as many adults respond as youth. What a service it was! What an encouragement! Who knows, perhaps this youth conference can be a source of renewal in our churches.
Leaders in Training
Our FWB missionaries carry a small part of the workload for JCrois. Young adult Christians from our churches and others in the area carry the major burden. Thus, they are learning by doing—one of the basic principles of the conference. We give them responsibility, knowing they will have questions. But our answers come in response to real situations they are facing in their lives and/or ministry.
We intentionally unite training and ministry, believing the best way to learn the skills of ministry is by doing ministry. Do they make mistakes? Of course they do. But what a beautiful opportunity for them to learn leadership and discipleship skills, as well as cultivate an attitude of humility.
We just completed our fifth JCrois and most people are saying it was the best organized, with the best program, and the best worship of all. I believe this is the result of the young adult team growing and learning to do ministry. They prepared this year’s JCrois while I was on stateside assignment. With help from Matt and Christina Price, they pulled it all together and the Lord blessed. Over the years, my role, and the role of other missionaries, has dramatically changed. In reality, the missionary team plays a supporting role. What a pleasure it is to watch God use these young French people perform the ministry to which He has called them. Many of them are taking the skills they learn at JCrois and using them to minister in their local churches.
So, where do we go from here? Next year’s dates are set. The theme is under discussion. We realize we need to expand this ministry. Between now and next year’s conference I will take some of our student leaders and visit churches in Nantes and surrounding areas to present JCrois, creating yet another opportunity for them to learn ministry skills. We also need to find extra income to expand—another challenge for our young adults to develop skills in the Lord’s work.
Isn’t this my role? To go, and make disciples who will do ministry among their own people.
Isn’t that what each of us is called to do? Go, and make disciples.
About the Writer: Veteran missionary Dennis Teague pastors a church in Nantes, France.