Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pray for France

We invite you to join us in praying for our trip and for France. Here's some relevant data about France:

Population: 62,636,580    
Annual Growth: 0.53%

Capital: Paris
(source: Operation World)

Largest Religion: Christian
  Pop %
Ann Gr
(source: Operation World)

30% atheist.
1% Evangelical.
(source: PrayForFrance.org)

In a nation that remains historically and culturally Catholic, secularism has been on the rise. Though 51% of France identifies themselves as Catholic, another 25% of the population identify themselves as non-religious. Islam is also on the rise, now representing roughly 10% of the population. (Greater Europe Mission website: http://gemission.org/pray/pray-france)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The City of Lille

Here are some details about the city of Lille, France. 

The city of Lille, to which the previously independent town of Lomme was annexed on 27 February 2000, has a population of 226,827 according to the 2009 census. (For comparison, Des Moines has a population of 207,510.)

However, Metropolitan Lille, which also includes Roubaix, Tourcoing and numerous suburban communities, has a population of 1,091,438

The Eurometropolis of Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai, which also includes the Belgian cities of Kortrijk, Tournai and Mouscron, has 2,155,161 residents. It is the fifth-largest urban area in France after Paris, Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse.

Fun facts (according to the internet):
  • Lille is one of the friendliest cities in France.
  • Lille (often written L’Île [“the island”] until the 18th century) began as a village between arms of the Deûle River. 
  • Count Baldwin IV of Flanders fortified it in the 11th century. The medieval town was destroyed or changed hands several times. 
  • Louis XIV besieged and claimed it in 1667. 
  • After being captured by the duke of Marlborough in 1708, it was finally ceded to France in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht. 
  • Lille owes its name – once spelled L’Isle – to the fact that it was founded, back in the 11th century, on an island in the River Deûle.

  • Lille was first mentioned in 1066 as part of the estates of the powerful Counts of Flanders. 
  • Lille was damaged and also occupied by the Germans during World Wars I and II.
  • Lille is one of France’s top student cities, with over 110,000 students.
  • Lille hosts Europe's largest flea market, the two-day Braderie (French for “sell at a low price”) de Lille, in September each year. 

More details and firsthand pictures when we are in Lille!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Getting Ready

Grace Church is going to France! Well . . . two of us are: Greg Abbott and myself (Mark). The plan, as of now, is to fly out of Des Moines on Wednesday, July 1st, and return home Sunday, July 12th

We will fly into Brussels, Belgium. 

Distance from Des Moines to Lille is 4346 Miles 

Specifically, we are going to the city of Lille, France. Lille is near the Belgium border, about 140 miles north of Paris. 

We will be working with Gary & Kate DeGraaf, a great couple who we support and who minister through Greater Europe Mission. 

We will also be helping out with a large Youth for Christ outreach called Bouge Ta Ville (“Get your city MOVING!” is a loose translation). There will be several teams coming from outside France to help. This will include seven days of intense service and shows and people interaction designed to lift up the name of Jesus. 

Please pray for us as we prepare for this trip. Pray that God will use us and teach us. Pray that God's grace will be in abundance in Lille!

- Mark