"But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we...There we saw the giants; and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.'" Numbers 13: 31,33
The Israelites refused to enter Canaan because they didn't believe they could overcome the giants they faced. Though God had shown Himself faithful every step of their journey from Egypt, they were still bound to wandering by their disbelief, unable to enter the land which God had already promised to give them.
As missionaries called to a new land, we face our own giants in the journey- selling a home and our belongings, saying goodbye to family and friends, and raising enough funds to cover our expenses. All these things are difficult, and some feel impossible at times; If we're honest, sometimes we wonder- will we ever enter the land?
But like the Israelites we must remind ourselves that God has been faithful in our journey-He has provided everything thus far and He has already promised to lead us in the days ahead- to the land which He has called us to.
We all come across obstacles in our journeys, whether we're heading to another land, or simply another path in life- a new job, school, or ministry assignment. When the time comes for us to face the giants we must answer this question: Will we tremble in fear and continue wandering in the desert, or will we remember His faithfulness in the past and His promises for the future, then choose to move ahead with great faith?
We are not experts on fundraising and we certainly know many people who have done it more effectively than us. We've been meeting with people for about 1 1/2 years in order to share about our mission and raise enough monthly giving commitments to begin our ministry in France.
Over time, we have noticed one thing that we believe is the key to success- that is to have big, strong, (even a little crazy) faith in our God. So many times we say that we have faith and that we trust God to provide but the reality is that we're only trusting in ourselves to get the work done. That is not going to get us to the mission field. Instead, each day we make the decision to fully trust in God to provide our funding. We do our best and we work hard to share with as many people as possible but we don't put our faith in that. Our faith is only in God and in His ability to work in people's hearts to draw them to give.
When we begin to doubt or have thoughts that we're not going to be able to do it we immediately take those thoughts captive. "No, I am not going to doubt because my faith is not in myself, not in my own efforts, but in the God of the universe who can do all things". As Christians, we would all agree that God can provide ANY amount of money in a split second if He so chooses, but do we live like we believe that? We're choosing to, and we believe that is the key to success in fundraising as a missionary.
There are numerous language schools in France and if you're considering the move, the first question to ask is where in France would you want to study. Most North Americans will likely go to Paris or the southern coast.
We looked at a few options but eventually determined it would be best to study at a Christian Language School in Albertville, Southeast France. We did 32 hours a week of intensive language study for a total of 10 months.
Below you'll find first the link to the school we studied at from 2014-2015, then several other options. To read our detailed review on the school in Albertville, click here.
Christian Language School in Albertville
School in Chambery on the campus of the University of Savoie (Alps)
School located in the beautiful Alps
On the French Riviera
Lyon, France's third largest city
Flying to France in the summertime is not always affordable. Right now round-trip flights between Washington DC and Paris for July 2014 are around $1,500. Off-season rates are much lower and can be found for less than $1,000 if you book early enough.
We've had success using frequent flyer miles to travel to and from Europe. Our favorite program is the Star Alliance which includes United Airlines. I've booked multiple "free" trips using my MileagePlus points on United. We (Marianne and I) both applied for the United Airlines credit card and received 50,000 bonus miles, which we turned into free flights. As of today, the sign-up offer is only good for 30,000 bonus miles, but still, that'll help a lot for a transatlantic flight. Note- we never recommend using credit cards as a way to borrow money or spend more than you have. We pay our balances in full each month and would recommend the same to anyone else. On two occasions I have called United to book award travel 2-3 nights before I needed to depart! Both times, they found flights to get me there. If you don't find award seats online, always call!
Now a note to other missionaries or those traveling for humanitarian purposes. There are travel agencies that offer significantly reduced airfare for these purposes. They are often 50% less than the average fare. They also come with lower change/cancellation fees and a higher baggage allowance. If you are traveling for a nonprofit and can provide evidence, we would refer you to Golden Rule Travel company who has helped us get our tickets to France. http://goldenruletravel.com/
Questions or comments?
During our first couple of years in France, we took the time to write about our experiences, advice, and thoughts of reflection as Christian Missionaries adapting to a new life in France. We hope you find some of these posts useful.
-Marianne and Brent