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How One Man’s Quiet Time is Transforming France

At age 17 Philippe left his home in France and moved to California. He didn’t know English well enough to make friends, so he ended up reading through the entire Bible in just two-and-a-half months just to fill his time. He was a pastor’s son who had grown up in church, but after immersing himself in scripture so deeply he realized, “Wow, Jesus is a lot more awesome than I thought, and He makes me a lot happier than I thought!” 

Until that point, Philippe’s experience with the church had been somewhat negative. When he was younger, his dad assumed leadership of a church in France that was spiritually unhealthy. Philippe recounts, “I grew up with very few examples of godly people in that church. During my teenage years, that church had a huge crisis that took it from 120 people to 16—it was ugly.” And sadly, that wasn’t the only church in France where that kind of thing was happening. 

Other than his parents, Philippe hadn’t known many people in France who had the joy or peace of the Lord. He rarely got to witness the level of spiritual maturity that should be present in a healthy church. His encounters with God through the Bible stood in stark contrast with what he saw in the French church. He said, “I was marveling at what I was receiving from God’s Word, but I was sad that I never got to see that at home.” He continues, “It became obvious to me that French people needed to know more about God’s Word,” so Philippe stayed in the US for 11 years and went to seminary with the goal of returning to France to become a pastor. 

When Philippe met his wife in the US, she was in a wheelchair due to an autoimmune disorder. The doctors told her that she’d never be able to have kids, but Philippe says, “God has taken care of her in a way that was beyond what we could have expected.” Today she’s not in a wheelchair anymore and they have four children.

Philippe and his family now live in Lyon, France, where he has been serving as a pastor at a Charis Alliance church for the past eight years. And God has been using their church to do some amazing things!

  • God used their church to plant three new house churches in surrounding regions with a fourth in the works.
  • Philippe’s church welcomed a Ukrainian refugee into their congregation and shared their building with him so he could start the only Russian-speaking church in the area. This Russian-speaking church ministers to other Ukrainian refugees and has had members come from as far as three hours away for their weekly service.
  • God used their church to write, record, and produce a kids worship album in French. Philippe’s 11-year-old daughter has a friend whose parents aren’t believers, but Philippe says, “The first time she came over after quarantine she wanted us to play Christian music, and she knew all the songs by heart because she followed us on YouTube.” She has since made a profession of faith and sits in the front row of church. Philippe says, “Whenever she visits, we always end up talking about the Bible ‘til midnight and praying together. She’s so eager.”
  • Philippe has authored two books and co-authored two more with Encompass’s Transformation Works Network Director. 

When Philippe read the Bible in California, he didn’t realize all the ways God would use him to be a part of something bigger. God had already been working in the church at Lyon before Philippe became its pastor, but God invited Philippe to participate in what He had already been doing. And God has been doing all these amazing things because one man read the Bible as a seventeen-year-old and became gripped by its infectious power. Jesus really is awesome, and when we just spend time with him He starts doing amazing things through us!