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Frenchman welcomes Americans back to share their faith

PARIS (BP)–French pastor Andre Souchon is glad for a few Americans to help change the hearts of his countrymen.

He’s seen them do it before through several Partnership Evangelism campaigns led by W.H. (Dub) Jackson. Another campaign in France is slated for Oct. 11-23 of this year.

For the first venture in 1974, Souchon enlisted 30 churches to partner with evangelistic teams Jackson had enlisted from Southern Baptist churches in America. The French churches prepared well yet were apprehensive about how they would manage the French-English language barrier.

“After the first night, I phoned most of these 30 places and got thrilled over the results,” Souchon recounted. “People had responded to the appeals in such a number that everybody was astonished.”

Souchon, pastor of the Avenue DuMain Baptist Church in Paris and former associate executive director of the French Baptist Union, said the reason the partnership worked so well “was that the American team members were ordinary people from all walks of life and ages, who had paid their fares themselves, just to share their faith in our Lord with our French people. Not only everyone in our churches could identify with ‘those strange American people,’ but also people at large could identify with them.”

Wherever the French church members took their American guests, they found responsiveness, Souchon said.

“Since in our European mentalities, faith is not a matter to speak about quite out of the blue, we could tackle the subject immediately because of the presence of our American team members. This could take place when two of them were accompanied by one of us both on the streets and in institutions such as an old people’s home or a specialized school, as well as in church groups of all kinds.

“The power of testimony of a simple Christian proved to be tremendous,” Souchon said, “because it gave us the possibility to go on with the testimony of our church people and to ensure the follow-up.”

Trust and fellowship were nurtured by Jackson, the French leader noted.

“One of the main assets of the partnerships with Dub Jackson is this: We French people were in charge of the program from beginning to end,” Souchon said. “… [T]he teams came to serve our churches and not to impose upon us methods or programs that are not fitting our aim and situation. They were ready to adapt themselves to each place where they were involved….

“In the course of the following decades,” Souchon continued, “we had several other crusades with Dub Jackson. Along with him and [French Baptist Union President/General Secretary] Andre Thobois, we went to meet with the executives of the Italian Baptist Union who, in the beginning were quite against such a type of outreach, but some months later were thrilled to have accepted several teams. I also led a group of 35 French church members to Texas in 1976. We were dispatched to three different regions of the state for this return partnership, which was a great encouragement to our people.

“My conclusion is this: ‘A threefold cord is not easily broken,’” Souchon said. “God, our American friends, and us make a good partnership mission.”

In addition to this year’s Oct. 11-23 Partnership Evangelism campaign in France, one is slated for Spain from July 19-31. In 2007, partnership efforts are slated in Germany, May 30-June 11, and Korea, Oct. 31-Nov. 12. In 2008: England, July 30-Aug. 11, and Japan — where it all started — Oct. 1-13.

Any pastor or church member interested in volunteering can contact the Partnership Evangelism office at (325) 698-8480 or Jackson at (817) 481-9888 for further information. The mailing address is Partnership Evangelism, 4400 Buffalo Gap Road, Suite 0275, Abilene, TX 79606; e-mail, [email protected].