By Loretta Strock (Emeritus—France)
For 20 years, I had the privilege of serving with John and Margaret Stauffacher in a church-planting ministry in Ris-Orangis, 30 miles south of Paris. Teaching English to adults became an unsought part of my ministry there.
A local town center had lost two teachers, and I was asked to fill in the gap. It was a hard decision, as I was already very busy with visits, clubs, and junior high ministry, and our church there was growing and in the midst of a building program. But because their need was so great, and they had no one else, I accepted the two weekly evening classes.
How I praise the Lord for the open door this gave to me. As our church had grown, I found myself working more and more with Christians. Going into these adult classes put me immediately in contact with unsaved adults again. I was no longer standing on the outside, trying to have contact with those “inside homes.” I was accepted as their acquaintance and even soon as their friend. This permitted social times together as well as conversations that led to explaining the gospel. Some even visited our church. I later enrolled in a Cambridge one-month course in Paris, which gave me the diploma to teach adults English.
From English studies to Bible studies
The church in Ris-Orangis became independent and called a French pastor. Feeling the liberty to move to another ministry, I contacted Mike and Elva Farrell, who were beginning a church in Reims. It was decided that I join them and that I feel free to teach adults English as the Lord opened the way. There, though I was involved in visitation and clubs, the Lord opened doors in a wonderful way. Evening classes at a social center, where contacts were mainly among the adult working class, opened up. I thank the Lord that two ladies became interested in spiritual things and were the first in an evening Bible study I began.
The fruits of new life
A year later I was asked to teach in the senior branch of Reims University, where I taught morning classes on different levels for 10 years. Though all ages were accepted, the students were mainly retired, many saying how happy they were to finally be able to study English!Three other students joined our evening ladies Bible study. My neighbor, Silvie, also joined us, and it was a joy to see these ladies grow in their knowledge of Christ. Three of them followed the Lord in baptism and participated in our small church. Over 90 gospel calendars were offered each year to the students, who would take them on a voluntary basis. Each page gave a daily verse and explanation of the gospel. Only the Lord knows how many may have come to understand the gift of salvation through faith by reading these.
Never retired from disciplemaking
In no way did this activity take away from my goal to see Christ announced in Reims and folks be saved and enter into the church family. It only opened doors into hearts that perhaps I never would have met. I really thank the Lord for opening that ministry. To this day I have contact with many of those I’ve met through the years. Some I visit are unable to leave their homes, and some have passed on. How wonderful it is to share the love of Christ with them. I praise the Lord for the ladies who have become sisters in Christ, are faithful in our church, and show a love for the Lord in their daily lives. The Lord really does lead us in the way as we follow Him. I thank Him that even as a retired person I can still share Him with others, here in my building, or with those whom I’m still able to keep contact with. The call He gave to me back in college is just as living as it was then. I am indeed grateful!