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Patient Persistence
A Lifelong Ministry in France
By Gail Huffman
After gradu-
ating from
Te n n e s s e e
Temple University in 1969 and travel-
ing on deputation, we (Bob and Gail
Huffman) and our two little girls ar-
rived in France with the desire to share
Christ’s love with the French and estab-
lish a work in the place God had chosen
for us. After settling in the Paris sub-
urbs, our first concern was learning the
language. We registered at the Alliance
Francaise and began studying a half day
each: Bob in the morning—me in the af-
ternoon, allowing one of us to stay with
our younger child, age two. Our six-
year-old began first grade in the public
school and learned to speak French flu-
ently in four months. The schools were
quite good, and we realized our children
would be a main source for making per-
sonal contacts. In addition to classes, we
had a private tutor who helped us im-
mensely. During this time, we offered
free conversational English gatherings
and had a few young people come. Later
a Bible Club for the neighborhood chil-
dren was added.

When scouting the area, we discovered
a complete new cite (city) being built on
the outskirts of a neighboring town with
apartments for over 20,000 people. A
new train station, post office, and police
station, along with banks and businesses,
were projected but no churches. We
rented an apartment and began making
contacts through English classes and a
Bible Club. We also shared our burden
with the pastor of the French church we
attended, and he gave us the name and
Number 3, 2015
address of a Christian family who had
moved into that area. With their six girls
the Bible Club flourished and we soon
began Sunday morning services in our
living room.

The guardian of our 20-floor building
learned we were having meetings for the
public in our apartment and informed us
that this was not acceptable. The choice
was to stop the meetings or move out.

We found a house to rent in a nearby
neighborhood. The garage became
our chapel. For five years we made
acquaintance with neighbors, showed
films, put up Gospel posters, distributed
tracts, and held meetings. The Lord
blessed and in addition to two families
who knew the Lord, we saw several teens
come to Christ, be baptized, and become
faithful. The attendance was around 50
on Sunday mornings.

Just before our second furlough, the
owner told us he would need his house
back in three months. We asked for an
extension of two months and left as
planned. We cut our time in the States
and upon returning moved out, put our
furniture in storage, and stayed with
friends until we found an old dilapidated
house for rent. There was nothing else
available that would hold our family of
six, accommodate another missionary
family going to Africa, and be large
enough for continuing our meetings. On
Sunday mornings we pushed the table
back and set up chairs in the dining
room for services.

The move left some without transporta-
tion so we purchased a van to pick them

up. Before long we were too crowded so
we asked our landlord if we could dig out
the basement and put in a door to the
outside in order to have more space. The
Lord kept us in the basement for nine
years. No doors opened in our quest for
a more suitable meeting place. During
this time souls were saved, many were
baptized, and several Christian families
joined our efforts to share God’s Word.

We found that the web effect of reaching
others through the families and mem-
bers in the church most effective.

One of the men who came to know the
Lord in this way was the coach of the
area soccer team. He was a friend to
one of our faithful men and had heard
the Gospel more than once from this
friend. He was indifferent for many
months, but one Sunday he came to the
morning service. He told us later it was
as if he were the only one in the room
and God was speaking directly to him.

He gave his life to the Lord and became
a faithful servant of Christ. He wanted
to be baptized but was living with his
companion and not married to her.

Bob went to see them and shared the
Gospel with her. She gave her heart to
Christ and they made plans to marry. A
few weeks after the wedding, they were
baptized. Their older son is active in
the church and their daughter teaches
in children’s church and AWANA Club.

Many have come to the Lord because of
their testimonies.

After 24 years, our landlord informed us
that he was moving to the industrial zone
from the building behind our house.

Were we inter-
ested in renting
this space? Were
we ever! We had
been praying his
business would
prosper so he would need more room.

God answered this prayer! The Lord sent
Brother John Abuhl to assume the main
brunt of the extensive renovations. After
six months of full-time work with help
from members, the building was ready
for services. We now had room for over
100 people with a nursery, bathroom,
a classroom, and an office. Many were
saved. They were baptized in a portable
baptistery. Weddings were performed
and babies dedicated. I began one week-
ly ladies’ meeting, then a second, plus an
AWANA Club. The teen ministry blos-
somed, a choir was formed, and camp
work both in winter and summer kept
us busy.

The attendance climbed to over 100, so
once again the men began the quest for
a more suitable meeting place. For three
years they visited buildings but found
nothing to fit our needs. Then a business
that sold coffins and tombstones went up
for sale. As a church, we made an offer.

It was refused. A year later it was still for
sale, so we made another offer. This time
it was accepted! The bank grudgingly
granted a loan but demanded that five
members sign for the loan. The owner of
our house and church building allowed
three months for the transition because
there were specifications to fulfill before
the town government would give
permission for public meetings. Not
only the members but also a team from
the Bible institute and Christians from
area churches took time to help. With
the Lord’s help we made the deadline.

We now have one of the nicest and most
practical meet-
ing places in
the Paris area.

There is room
for 150 in the
main audito-