Recently, the Hoberts have begun to reach out to their new town through an activity they call Faith Walks. The idea came from a teammate who noticed the region’s affinity for hiking. Filled with beautiful landscapes and hills, the area is an ideal location for avid walkers. With the pastime already in place and a little help from local newspaper ads, the team easily created a once-a-month social event where they can share their faith.
The Faith Walks are between six and nine miles of hiking, which is plenty of time to get to know fellow walkers. Around halfway through each walk is a rest stop, and the Hoberts use this break to share an aspect of Christian faith and invite an open dialogue. This time of discussion makes the activity unique; attracting people from diverse backgrounds. An average of 12-20 people come each month, and the Hoberts are always seeing new faces.
As with all relationship building, the outcomes of Faith Walks vary widely.
One cold, foggy Saturday morning, Dave and Susie set out to the Faith Walk meeting place expecting that the weather would mean low attendance. Instead, they found a surprising 22 people, the largest group they have ever had. It was a mixture of regular attendees and newcomers, creating the chance to strengthen past friendships and make new ones. The group included two women who exemplify the range of responses the Hoberts have seen.
During the break that day, it was Susie’s turn to share something related to faith. She talked about Eternity, which sparked the group’s interest and was followed by some good discussion. Susie explained that her beliefs about eternity were rooted in Scripture, and she offered to give a French Bible to anyone who wanted one. One of the women immediately asked for the Bible; the other adamantly refused.
The first woman was intrigued by the presentation Susie had given. As the Hoberts and their other Christian friends got to know her, they could see that she was spiritually starved but clearly yearning. The following week she began attending a Bible study. After a couple months of being discipled, the woman came to faith and is growing spiritually.
The second woman never came back to a Faith Walk. A couple months later, the Hoberts found out through a mutual friend that she had enjoyed her time walking and chatting but she did not want to be pushed into anything spiritual. She simply had no interest.
Rather than discouraging them, the contrast between these two women is what motivates the Hoberts to continue their ministry.
Like the cold fog on that Saturday, there is a heavy veil of apathy in France that darkens the hearts of the people. The second woman’s reaction to the Faith Walk reminds the Hoberts of their purpose. The distance she kept is the reason they work so hard to create bridges of relationship, and they will keep crossing those bridges with the love and truth of Jesus.
The woman who responded eagerly to the truth is one who gives the Hoberts hope, encouraging them to persevere in their ministry. The Holy Spirit at work, and getting to participate in that work makes all of Dave and Susie’s efforts worthwhile.
Please pray for the Hoberts as they continue their Faith Walks. Pray for relationships to be built, hearts to be opened, and lives to be changed. Then let their story inspire you to consider how you can build relational bridges in your own community to reach those in need of the good news of Jesus.