A native of the secular Pacific Northwest, Lindsey moved to France more than a decade ago with eyes wide open to the reality of Europe’s spiritual need. Since then, God has given her unique opportunities to build relationships and share the gospel—often through the unlikely connection of a baking class she teaches.
The physical beauty, cultural sophistication and culinary delights of of France can sometimes conceal the spiritual challenges faced by believers in that country—and the missionaries who go there to share the gospel. A native of the secular Pacific Northwest, Lindsey moved to France more than a decade ago with eyes wide open to this reality. Since then, God has given her unique opportunities to build relationships and share the gospel—often through the unlikely connection of a baking class she teaches.
**BONUS Content** Don’t go to the mission field looking for a spouse, but don’t put it past God to provide one for you.
Check out Starting from Scratch, our video documenting Lindsey’s ministry in France. (Warning: Don’t watch if you’re hungry!)
Still not convinced Europe is a legitimate mission field? Read our article and photo essay, “Is Europe Unreached?”
I love baking and it's important to me and I find great joy, but why I came to France and why I live is for Jesus.
This is the Relentless Pursuit Podcast where we hear stories from cross-cultural workers on what it's really like to be a missionary, the good, the bad, and the ugly. In this episode, we have a chance to sit down with Lindsay, who is a missionary serving in France. Now, France might not seem to be the type of place you'd normally encounter missionaries, but I think after listening to this conversation, you'll get a real glimpse as to why France is such an important place to still send people to work there in the gospel. She's been there for quite a while and she's become really enculturated and knowledgeable of the language and the people there.
I think one thing that you can see from Lindsay's story is just how she has this incredible openness to look out and see what is the Lord doing, where are there opportunities? Where can I serve? Who are the relationships that the Lord is bringing into my life? And you can just really see how that is just such an active part of her ministry and just taking all the different opportunities that she can to share the gospel with the people around her. And that openness, I think is probably just something that you see throughout her story. And so you're going to actually see a little bit of that in this opening introduction to Lindsay's story where she talks a little bit about how it was that she got called to France, and so we're going to start with that today.
So I was always interested in French, the language throughout high school. And so my dream was actually going to France on a trip. So when I was 19, I had saved up enough money and I had gone with one gal who her and I were leaving from Oregon and then heading to France to visit a friend who was doing her, I think year abroad over in Lyon. And so in 2005 I got a go for the very first time, and I had been to East Africa already. So the Lord I think was already working on the ideas of what is ministry, what is mission? And my heart was more in Africa than France. France was just really the dream come true. Finally get a go travel everywhere, see the beautiful architecture, eat yummy food, try to speak the French that I learned in high school. And so when I got to Paris, we did Lyon, Nice and Paris. We were going through a number of churches obviously because everywhere, and I can't remember which one it was, it could have been the Notre Dame or it could have been some other one, but going in and feeling how empty and cold it was and that the only people that were there were us tourists walking around it and no one was sitting in the pews. And it was very disturbing. And I was like,
This is messed up because on every block, if they're all like this, this is kind of strange. And so that was kind of a little seed in the back of my brain. And then we go down to Nice and we find out about this Calvary Chapel that's been around for a number of years. It's a healthy growing church. They could even consider it as a megachurch. And I get there and there's probably around 60 people and I'm like, what is going on? This is not a mega church. And so immediately when I was in that church in Nice, there was something that the Lord was like, there is a need here. And you can't see it from the exterior. You can't see it superficially because the French are little coconuts and they're very hard and they're not going to let you in. But when you do get in, you do see the need. It's tremendous. And so that was what prompted the idea of considering France 2006 and then 2007.
Wow. So where'd you go next? I mean, you must've gone home with that idea and been a little bit like, oh, this is kind of random and not even really necessarily the original purpose of you having gone to France. You were just kind of going there because you wanted to check it out and vacation like everybody does, wants to do in France and go to Nice and all of that. So where did that sort of process take you next?
Well, the next thing that I considered was I'd like to go back for a longer period. And so I ended up finding an organization that was doing a summer mission project. And so I went to Nice for six weeks, and that was mainly involved with students, and then there was obviously people in the different churches that we were helping. And that was, I think, good for me to just get a longer period with a focus of actual ministry to see how do the French actually respond to people coming and helping French believers. Even sometimes they're like, what are you doing here? We're fine. Leave us alone. Which they're very autonomous people and they've, I think tried to make it through on their own for a long time. And then I ended up deciding to go back on an even longer term, and I actually got a job with French government of teaching in a high school.
And so I was in the same kind of area down near Nice. And I got to take groups of senior students that needed to practice English in order to graduate, and I would take them aside and I get to practice speaking to them and them trying to speak back and trying to use present, future and past and put together phrases. And they didn't get a lot of opportunity to actually speak English. So it was exciting for them to have an American come in and help them facilitate that discussion. So I did that for 10 months. And then at that point, it was pretty clear that was to see, okay, Lord, are you calling me to full-time ministry? That was a yes. Does France have a need? Yes. Okay, now how will I go back in a potential long-term way? And then that was another process of four and a half years of getting prepared for that, finding an organization and so on.
So when you shared your vision and your experiences in France with people back home in your church and your friends and family, what was their response to that?
Well, when I initially got to the field, I had prepared them for long years of prayer, a huge base of trust that had to get built in order to even explain that you're a believer, they wouldn't want to know. They wouldn't want to even know what that meant. And so they were kind of expecting this long haul, difficult ministry start. And when I arrived in southern France, it was not that. So there was a lot of people, I think the Lord had prepared. People were super interested. I don't think I had planned for maybe France was evolving and there was more openness spiritually. And so they were kind of shocked. You had us keep praying. You might not even be able to say you're a believer for years, and now they're asking you right away, what are you doing here? And you need to be clear with them.
They don't like it when you fluff around and talk around and go around the bush. And so I was explaining to them that I was working with the organization and my belief background was why I was here. Oh, really? That's interesting. I don't know any youth that actually have faith, and so they were opening up instead of closing down. And so everyone was still surprised. I mean, I was expecting them to be surprised either way, but it was a good surprise to see God actually doing a lot more than maybe we expected in France at that time.
But there wasn't necessarily questions about whether it was even worthwhile to go to France from your friends and family.
I grew up in Oregon. It's a very atheistic town, and so they actually never had any issues with that, which initially I heard, yeah, well, you're going to raise your support to go to Africa in a blink of eye, but good luck with France. And that was not the case. I was able to raise support sometimes even faster than other ministry workers in other countries. So the place that I grew up in I think was atheistic enough and unchurched enough for the believers of my sending church were actually like, yeah. And they already saw the need in Europe, which for me was wonderful. I didn't have to reeducate. There was some education that had to happen. We're talking about 2%, 0.7%. It's changing, but the percentage is low. The churches are empty. We're talking non-practicing individuals. Those who are checking the box mean they go for a baptism and then maybe a funeral. And so there was a lot of awareness, at least with my support team, which was wonderful.
That's awesome. So I love your little line when you were first kind of starting out about how the French are little coconuts, right? Yes. But then you also talked about how in southern France, when you first got there and you actually experienced a lot of openness and people are curious and asking you questions and even really positive about the fact that you have faith, and that's what led you to France and all of that. So tell me a little bit more about that contrast of the coconuts versus some of the openness that you experienced.
Well, it depends on the person, but in general, and this is also the region, so southern France is, they're a little bit more open, I would say, than the north, because I have a lot of friends from the north, and I'm not sure if it's just that German or that British influence. And then now I live in Grenoble, so I know the different potential spiritual climates, even personality differences, in the different cities. But where I spent most of my time in the south, they're very open because there's lots of people coming in and out of the city. And so it's very international, it's fairly cultivated. There's a Dell and IBM and of foreigners coming in, which again, I had lived in another French city that was a small 60,000 person town where they didn't even know any English. So if they saw an American, all they could say was like, how are you?
And that was the end of it. So here, there's people that speak better and even people that are kind and complimenting me. So it was intriguing how different it was. Even for me, I had another French experience. It was a little bit more oppressive and depressing. And here I was a little bit more encouraged by, oh, you speak well, and oh, interesting, you're a believer. What does that mean? Oh, well, I'm atheist, so that's cool. And just this immediate exchange where the coconut thing, it still takes time to get into their inner circles and that deeper level of trust, but even just that small talk that I assumed that they really did not like, at least in the south, that they were doing more of, which was kind of a nice, yeah, it was a nice surprise, I guess.
Right. When you say coconut, right, when you say that it bit deep, it takes a little bit longer to kind of get into that deeper level, what kinds of things do you think make up that sort of hard shell? Right? Is it an unwillingness talk about religion or is it cultural things where they kind of want to clinging to what they believe in? Or is it not being vulnerable just with their own emotions? What kinds of things do you think make it difficult for people to be more open?
Well, I think the main thing is just mistrust. The country, the soil is based on wars, and it wasn't that long ago, 67 years ago isn't that long ago when you think about it was being occupied by Germans. So I think, and that's obviously passed down by generations, and my sister came and said, why don't people look at each other? Why don't they smile? Because I don't know, but I'm guessing that they walk through the towns avoiding eye contact because who knows if you are with the resistance, who knows if you were on the good side, the bad side? And so for me, that was a good enough reason to say, okay, maybe that's why, because I sometimes didn't even know. So there's an element of mistrust, which my husband, who's French would totally agree with. And he says it often when he is trying to teach Americans about how to well adapt.
Then the second thing that we would say is, there's a suspicion naturally that goes in line, I don't trust you, and now I'm hesitant at your kindness, your openness, and why do you want to know these very private things about me? Whereas that is something that they could have potentially only shared with close family, close family, and maybe two to three friends. They really don't have large networks. I, as an American here in France have a larger network than my husband just because that's my personality, that's my culture, and I have more friends. I have more close, deeper friendships than him. And that's again, a cultural thing. And so I think those two main elements are probably going to be super important just because, I mean, a friendship and sharing is because there is trust or because there's an openness and not a hesitancy. Why do they want to know these things? Oh, they're going to use this information against me. Oh, they're going to start a rumor. They're going to say that I'm open, that I'm reading the Bible with Lindsay. I don't want people to know that. So I think there's just that element of suspicion that still is present today, and it's, I think just a part of culture.
Yeah, that's so interesting because when you were talking about how people are super friendly and they'll ask you questions and they'll be like, oh, you believe that I'm atheist, that's cool. And they have questions. It kind of reminded me a little bit of how Japan is just, and that it's really easy to have those conversations. But it's really interesting to see that the cultural reasons and some of the foundations for why it's like that or why it's hard to get past that are actually very, very different. So it's kind of interesting to see how it might look a little bit similar on the surface, but when you go deeper, it's actually, yeah, it's very different. So yeah, that's really interesting. So from, oh, sorry. Go ahead, Matt.
I was just going to ask, when you were there the first time on more of a short term arrangement, you were working with young people, and so you had that inroad through English learning and that process. And then when you came back, how did you begin to explore what your new way of building relationships would be or how you would be able to build inroads into the culture now that you're there full time?
Initially, there was a lot of prayer that the Lord would guide me to key people because again, like an American showing up and with an organization, it doesn't look like a legitimate job. My team leaders were older. They said that they kind of retired in France that was easier to swallow. And so I really had to have legitimacy of what is she doing here? And so I presented myself to all the principals in the high school of the big city that I lived in and said, I'm a part of an organization, which a lot of French are all about, be a part of an organization that's worthy of your time. So that was acceptable because I was anglophone and I was going to use my ability to speak English to help them, that was also acceptable. And a lot of anglophones were doing English things to some extent in the city.
And so I ended up presenting, writing letters. I worked my hardest and none of the principles actually ever called me back. And so I ended up meeting one boy who loved America. His name, oh, I won't say his name, but his name was a wonderful American name. You would've thought he was a straight out America. And he was in the church that I was a part of. And so he was someone who was open to the gospel but really enjoyed learning about spirituality. And so we started an English club with him and one of his friends. And so really it only takes one person because soon as you get into their circle and they're like, Lindsay's normal, she's American, she speaks English, you want to come on Fridays, we can go to McDonald's and we can talk in English together. And so I did that for five years, and the group became almost as big as sometimes 15 kids.
And so I had the whole network of this. It was a class that was doing graphic design, which I did in college. So I was like, oh, this is fun. This is my line of study as well. And so that was one main entrance into a large network of youth. And then they obviously multiply. So it's either, oh, I want you to come meet my parents. Oh, I'd love for you to come to the open house to see my artwork. And so the connections, now that you've been validated by a French person are numerous. At the church, I was working with the youth group and there were a couple girls that were interested in getting to know me better, and I was hoping to disciple them at some point. Some of them weren't actually even believers at that time. And so that's when a lot of the baking started there just because the only interaction that I could have with them, because they were also, they had lived hard lives. I didn't know how to get into their little inner circle, and they thought, I think they saw a lot of foreigners come and go. They thought I was just going to leave again. So the fact that I was going to stay and I was investing in them was surprising. And so that's one of the areas where I started baking with these girls, and then it led to lots of other groups. So those are the two main, those people, those key people that God brought into my life.
Yeah. Well, you've hinted at probably something that's very interesting to people, this idea of baking. Can you talk more about how baking has played into your ministry and your discipleship there?
Yeah, so initially it was a little bit of a surprise. I was expecting them being French individuals to teach me how to make macaron or chocolate mousse or things like that. I had told in the little baking video that pioneers made that that was already kind of my expectation. Let's bake French things. I'm in France, this is really the pastry chef-ness of the world. And here they're like, no, I want to make cookies and cupcakes. And I was like, okay, well, I can help with that. That's my country. And so I started, we had sleepovers and we had Bible studies, and then we'd have baked times in that, and that was what the mix was. And then there were a couple of the girls that were like, oh, Lindsay does this. And it started happening during the week and then weekly and then with other groups of gals. And so there was a lot of interest. I think coming together in a kitchen is special in every country and in France, especially with the cuisine and the patisserie. Both of those are, I feel like hearts of their culture. And so it was a very normal, I felt like progress into that direction. And then it obviously evolved.
Wow. So what's their favorite thing to learn to bake? I mean, cookies and cupcakes. It sounds so normal.
I know. And I think what's great about the American style anglophone style baking is that it's quite fast. It can be done quickly. So when you're thinking about you're making a pâte feuilletée, which is the pastry puff, you're working the butter, it has to be in a controlled environment. You have to let it sit for 24 hours, and then you work it again or the cream, you make a cream, you separate it, then you add, then you incorporate, and then you put it in the fridge and you wait four hours and then you whip it. And so I think the fact that cookies and brownies and carrot cake, I sell carrot cake all the time at the cafe I work at, and they love it. And then the fact that they see it made, and I can do this at home. And so I think that's what they love is obviously the idea of doing it again and doing it at home and making it for others and be like, look at me. It's an American recipe and I made it.
That's so fun. So I know from an American standpoint, there's sort of this stereotype that French people don't like Americ that they look down on Americans, they kind of snub their nose at us, all that sort of stuff. They sneer because we call, we have french fries and all that kind of thing. Have you ever run into any of that, or what's it actually,
I'm encouraged to have an overall positive experience with French people. Having an understanding of the language made a huge difference. Their language is so important to them, and they've spent years of their childhood trying to master the language, and it's difficult. So when you are showing any sort of effort to say hi and to speak and to communicate, and then obviously I'm at a different level where we can have deep discussions and debate about things. But even initially, I had a lot of very positive responses just because I knew things about their culture. And then I knew enough about, I knew a number of words in their language. And so I was able to get a lot of really positive feedback. I mean, I'll have a couple situations where instead of saying yes, I said, yeah, which the French and my dad's or my mom's age they correct you.
They like that proper correct, precise French, but really a rudeness and a disdain. Even my family that comes often, I just teach 'em the basic things. When you go into a store, you try to find the owner, you say bonjour and then you can go on looking at your things when you're done, you say goodbye. And there's this respect. We walked into their business and we walked out, and things that my mom would never think about, she'd be like, well, I just do what I want like at TJ Maxx. I'm like, well, here, there's a little bit difference. So we need to respect that. And so overall, they've had I think, positive experiences. And that's my hope. I live here. But I think I've been blessed by a lot of very open-minded or just kinder or I know the language helped. Having me being able to speak already was a huge plus.
And I think there's always stereotypes that cultures have. And then most of the time we find that those are not universal. There might be some truth to it, but for the most part, those things are not really correct. I'm wondering, when you would have these gatherings with people to bake and to have sleepovers and spiritual conversations, was this something that they saw as kind of an afterthought, or was there a real deep interest in having these kinds of conversations and Bible studies and things like that that you discovered among the people that were coming to bake?
So there were a number of them that were coming specifically to bake. And so that was where I had brought in, in the book that I wrote, the discussion of the word, because I wasn't going to let them go without having my true passion. I love baking and it's important to me, and I find great joy, but why I came to France and why I live is for Jesus. And so some of them would strictly come because they wanted my recipes. The English club that I did for five years, they said, write a book, write a recipe book. And so I wrote the book with them in mind as atheists, how are they going to read the word when they've never read it before? How are they going to understand it? How are they going to learn about who God is or who Jesus is with something that is foreign to them?
So there were some that were very straight up, I'm here really for the recipes, but I respect you enough, Lindsay, that we'll do the discussion. They knew that that was the setup. I wasn't going to be like, yeah, you can just take a picture of the right side. I gave them a book. There's both sides. They take it home. And then there were other groups. And this was wonderful when the guy was like, okay, you can eat the cheesecake without me, but wait for me for the discussion. And that's when I was like, okay, there's some open hearts. There's some, there's spiritually searching people. And it was quite intriguing to see, yeah, I already talked to some girl that she shared with me about her faith. And then another guy was like, yeah, my brother already gave me a Bible. And just feeling like, okay, this was just another stepping stone on this person's spiritual walk. And that's where I realized that mattered. It mattered to them. They were coming for the spiritual element, but I couldn't say that every group was a hundred percent, and it was half and half, and that was fine, but I wanted real answers and I wanted people to be honest at least.
So what are some of the obstacles or the common threads of debate or questioning or things that you feel like you were coming back to in these conversations with people were unique to maybe the French community or to the people that you were meeting there?
I think some of them are related to just the Catholic background. So it's a very tangible religion, so there's a lot of smelling and hearing and seeing and being. And so the cathedrals are built with this awe factor to sit in them and to lift your head above. And so I'm talking to these people that would never really want to walk into a church. And we've gone through the whole discussion with six weeks of discussion, and it has nothing to do with sitting in a building.
And the last passage is on Psalm 40, and we're talking about what does it actually mean to trust Jesus with our lives? And they're like, well, I've never been. I've went to church. I've never sat in a church. I've never gone into the cathedral. I've never done a mass. And I'm like, I'm not talking about that. And it was so hard for them to differentiate stepping into a building that represented a religious element of atmosphere and blessing and connection with God. And obviously I believe that the word was alive and active. And so what we were reading was life that was potential for this person to accept. And so a lot of that has consistently been an issue just, well, I don't do this and I don't do that. And so obviously grace is already complicated for believers. So now there's an element of atheistic or just even postmodern individuals thinking, well, grace is just strange anyways. I don't earn it. I didn't do enough. Or I'm fine. That would be the element. I don't need a savior. That means I'm not going to recognize my sinful state. I don't have one. This is life and we just live it to the fullest, and I do what I want each day, and then tomorrow, well, we'll see if we have tomorrow. And so that could be another huge stumbling block. But I think those are the two main ones that I've seen.
Do you feel like there's any sense that people want to talk about spiritual things or have that sort of deeper connection just on even maybe a general or cultural level? Is there any sort of desire that you see in that, especially in young people?
So the young people that I interacted with, just with a lot of my baking, and then even now I go to Lyon, which is a pretty large city not far from me. And when I do the baking classes, sometimes people aren't fully aware of what it is. And so they come in knowing it's a baking class, and then they weren't completely prepped that there was a discussion. And so they sit down for the discussion and it goes well, because the questions are open-ended, no closed directive. Things that make someone who doesn't believe feel out of place, and they actually quite enjoy, oh, that was, I don't ever discuss these things. This is so intriguing, purpose of life, and why am I here? And so that actually prompts a lot of just spiritual gears to think about and be like, oh, maybe I'll come back next time.
I do the monthly at the time. And so I've seen that be a wonderful opportunity just to be like, there are places where these questions are being discussed. Honestly, with the youth, I'm getting concerned because there aren't, I mean, obviously the church, we're doing our best with the churches that exist to be out there and to connect with people, but they're not, I mean, a lot of them are unemployed. We're having issues with suicide and depression, and I would assume that for the States as well. But they have questions obviously, that they're not getting answered if they're in these dark places. So I do believe that they're open to them, and it's really a question of with whom, whether it's spiritual things like a cult, which is very common here. It's going to be something you go to a little tarot card reader, you just really want to know your future because you don't have peace or you go to your yoga class, you need to find the inner zen. I feel like the younger generation is showing that they are searching just by what they're doing as activities or groups they're being a part of.
Yeah, that's so interesting. So cults are like occult things. They're really big in France.
So I can't remember when we read the statistics, but back in 2010, the number of doctors and the number of occult practices were, surprisingly, the number of them that existed in practice in France were close to the same number.
Oh my gosh. Yeah.
So just thinking, and I have coworkers that I know a lot of people that touch a lot of dark elements of the world, and you're just thinking, okay, there are other solutions, but this is obviously because their soul is in need of something greater than them, and this might be the only interaction they had with that one person or someone introducing them to this or just that experimental. Yeah, I don't know. But it's present in France.
Do you have any stories of some of the people you've connected with that either have come to faith or you're seeing progress in terms of their spiritual interest? I'm interested to hearing maybe some of the people and what they're like and what relationships are like with them.
Yeah. Well, we had one, it was two girls. So the girls were actually foreign exchange students, which was awesome from South America. And then one of the gals brought her boyfriend. And so he was, I think, a little hesitant initially about what it was all about. And he was just really coming, I think, to spend time with his girlfriend. I didn't have time,
And the boyfriend was French?
They were all actual foreigners. They were all foreigners. And so this was a situation where they were here for a year or two, and one of them was a believer, and the other two were just in great spiritual search. And so he was on a path of, I loved his answers. I loved his honesty. At the end of the six weeks, he didn't want it to end, but they had to go back, I think, to the country that, or the school year had ended. And so he obviously was keeping the book, and then we ended up getting him a Spanish Bible for him. But that was one of the most, I think, promising situations where he was just really, I dunno, he had an open heart. He was listening and participating every single discussion. And then obviously it was a guy that wasn't, I couldn't do a close discipleship or anything with him, but that was one situation.
And then there were two other girls that were, some of my students, my French girls that were part of the English club for the first five years that I was doing it. And one of them, we did the whole thing. I mean, this is the hard thing. This is such a long path for believers or for French to even come to Christ. And so they were on, I have no interest or openness, but I'll stay open, and now I'm listening and I'm engaging in this discussion, and then potentially maybe this has actual worth, maybe this is something I could consider. And so I always said that this was spiritual motors that just got so dusted off that they could potentially start turning. And so that was one, her name's Lily, and so we still stay in touch here and there. And she'd gone through some high times and low times and wanted to continue after the book to do more discussions and then do a recipe and do a deep discussion. And so even for her to have that desire afterwards was important for me just to see, okay, this was important to you, this mattered to actually discuss these things and you are willing to go another step and to continue discussing things about who you are in life and existence and what your purpose is. So I haven't seen someone come to Christ, which would be just a wonderful situation through this book. So still waiting to see who God will bring.
Yeah. Are you still doing those baking classes and those six week long studies with people right now?
Yeah. So what we're hoping, because I moved cities, so because it's all based on a network, the past couple years I've been able to go to the Lyon Cafe that they had, which was wonderful outlet. And so I'm reconnecting trying to see if we can start some classes over there. I had a great group of young students, but also just different variety. And then here I have a number of girls that I know through church, and a lot of the girls that come in church, you're not really sure what they believe and where they're at. And so both of them are interested in starting. So hopefully that will start up in the next couple of weeks. So they're excited. We just have to find a time when they're both free on a weekend. So yeah.
I think there's this stereotype of France being a comfortable place to live, and even the question about whether it's really missions to serve in a place like that. What are some of the frustrations or things that maybe people in other parts of the world wouldn't consider that you have to deal with in your daily life there?
Yeah, we could say definitely the physical conditions would be similar to where we've grown up. So we have running water and electricity. Trying to think. I mean, obviously the huge and biggest difference is the relational differences and then the spiritual differences. And so it's difficult to explain because you have to be here because there is a spiritual oppression. And you could be in the north of France and the south of France. And I would say that where I used to live is more spiritually open than where I currently live. So yeah, I don't know if I choose eating once a day or being in deep spiritual oppression, which one would be worse because really it's pretty awful.
What are some of the ways that you noticed that when you say oppression?
People were fighting in the street, people getting out of their cars and yelling at each other in the middle of an intersection because he bumps the other one. Trams, discussions, fights all the time. Post office people constantly grumbling and getting angry, yelling at this person. Just a lot of anger and unrest just in everyday people, which you'd be like, oh, this would be more in those high intense war kind of cities, countries, wherever. Whereas this is just kind of happening everywhere. And as long as I've been in France, it's always been this kind of intense, angry, not everywhere. I'm not going to say everywhere I walk, I'm like, oh, wow. They're screaming at each other. But it's just a little bit more visible, a little bit more acceptable to get into altercations and to get frustrated and to get angry and to yell at someone.
I mean, I work at a cafe, so I welcome a clientele all the time. The disagreements that I've heard and the things that I've seen, I'm like, there's a visible unrest. There's a visible lack of peace. There's a visible, yeah, an oppression. I mean, it's hard to compare. I mean, you have people in the states where they're a little bit more joyful and they have a lightness to them. And you notice that, well, when you remove the joy and you remove that lightness, you have a lot of heavy all the time. So with the people around you, there's more of this heavy, depressing criticize and look at the world around us. Look at this. I mean, complaining is one of their biggest gifts. They're really good at it. And so it's a constant, okay, did you see this, did you hear that? Did she say that? And that's just what you do. So overall, I'm a fairly normal person, but sensitive wise, it's just a constant weight. So I would say that would be one of the biggest differences that impacts pretty much every element of your life, because who you're going to call on the phone to fix this, who you're going to go and buy it, buy your milk from. Just constant, I'm not surprised anymore, but the things I've seen and heard and watched, it's just just life.
So if you were talking to someone who's considering whether God is calling them to work in France or in maybe another country in Western Europe, what are some of the things that you feel like people can do to prepare themselves or to identify, is my heart prepared for this? Am I able to sustain in an environment where there's not a lot of spiritual interest or where there is this oppressive environment that you're describing? How would you encourage someone to prepare their heart for that?
I think a tangible response would be coming and doing a Venture or one year stint. I was so thankful that I had been in France a year previous and then, or not previous, five years before I came finally. But that was extremely helpful because I got to see all of the cycles of the honeymoon stage. I love France. Oh, it's wonderful. Everyone's so amazing. Oh, maybe they're not all amazing. And then they do that, and then they say that, and then you just get used to the wholeness of the culture. Being in the country is helpful because it will minimize shock when you choose to come back. The other thing that I did was being biblically prepared. I did Bible studies beforehand or even some sort of institute. Western Europe is extremely educated, even the youth, I mean, whether they're going into the occult or they love yoga or they don't believe in anything.
They're very educated. They know a lot of stuff about a lot of things. So there we have it. And so the more that we can be educated about the word of God, but then also culturally educated, I think would help a ton. And then obviously, being extremely grounded in Christ. I mean, that goes with your call when times get rough. You question, why did I come here? And that's what your call is for. That's what your identity in Christ is for. That's what stabilizes you and keeps you going, and keeps pushing forward when you feel like you're just a little tiny flame in this really dark room. So I think those three are already a good start.
Yeah. What do you think, what kind of specific things have encouraged you during those times when you're feeling really small, like a tiny flame in a dark room and discouraged?
I think going back to the simple things that I love about France, I'm going to get a croissant or a pan chocolat, or going to a beautifully designed building, being able to travel, going back to the basics of just living. I think because sometimes as ministry workers, we sit in the spiritual heavy thinking all the time, because what we're doing, we're constantly strategizing. How do we reach these people that are not interested, that don't care? And so if we stay in that forever, it gets too heavy, especially if there aren't maybe a lot of little flames in your dark room or maybe just little glint of hope of, oh, this person is actually interested in, or this person said, Linds, can I do a Bible study with you? And I thought she was making fun of me, but she was actually serious. And so going back to the basics of life, of having that latte and that croissant and enjoying the little tiny streets and the architecture that doesn't look anything like the states, and just being thankful for the physical elements of where you live allows you or allows me to detach from sometimes the extremely heavy spiritual burden that we carry coming into on the field that all the tourists love.
I mean, that's why people keep coming back to France is they don't look at the spiritual, and they're like, oh, wow, this is such a dark, angry place. Not that angry. This is a spiritually heavier area. They're not going to recognize that. They're just going to be, oh, it's beautiful, and I ate really good food. Well, sometimes that's where you have to go to be like, you know what? There's wonderful food here. The people, they're extremely lost, but go to the things that they can do well. And that I think allows for you to enjoy and to sustain yourself in the country.
And in every culture, there are things, even in dark places, where there are things we can learn from them in terms of lifestyle or pace or cuisine or other cultural things that maybe have been embedded in their culture for centuries that we can learn from, even in spite of those areas of darkness.
The pan chocolat sounds amazing. That would be definitely such a good pick up.
Yeah, it is.
Well, thank you so much, Lindsay, for joining us here. We have a few quickfire questions I want to run by, so we kind of get a sense of what your personality is like here. Would you say you are a coffee or a tea person?
So coffee, definitely.
Yeah. How about early bird or night owl?
Yeah. Winter, spring, summer or fall.
That's a hard one. Maybe fall. Fall, winter. I like sun.
Fall and winter,
But I love sun. So we'll say fall
If you're on a flight, are you looking for the window seat or the aisle seat?
I like the window seat.
Yeah. Dog or cat?
Oh, we're not really either, but we had two cats, and I like them more than our dogs. So I'll say cats.
Now this one is specifically relevant to where you're at. What is your favorite local dish?
Oh, that's hard. Oh, boy. So where the region that I'm living in right now, my mother-in-Law makes au gratin potatoes, and it's, I think the translation is just scalloped potatoes, but it's with a creamy cheese sauce that has a little bit of nutmeg in it, and she makes it with sweet potatoes. Well, she makes it mixed with potatoes and sweet potatoes, but she switches it up a little bit, and that's the first thing that came to mind. So it's a very traditional to this area, kind of like when it's really cold, it's like that put on the fat food kind of thing, and it's delicious.
So sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, and then some nutmeg.
Well, a little touch of nutmeg, not too much. And then obviously the creamy cheese sauce with garlic. She loves garlic, so there's always garlic, which is good.
Well. It does sound really good.
Do you cook a lot of French food at home?
Yeah, we cook a mix. I mean, I like Thai food and Mexican, and then I make quiche, and I've made all sorts of little rôti, those roast things that the Sunday dinners they would have here. So yeah, so we make a mix of stuff.
Yeah. Is there a song on repeat on your iPod or iPhone?
Let's see, the one, what is the name? I just listened to YouTube. It's Kari Jobes, "No Other Name." I think that's what it's called. Yeah, no other name. And then Heart of Worship.
Yeah. What is the strangest tradition that you've witnessed there in your time?
Strangest tradition? Well, I think saying it would be kind of random. So the 6th of January with Epiphany, you cut up this fluffy pastry puff cake thing, and there's a giant, they're not a giant. There's a chunk of porcelain doll in a slice. And you have to be careful not to break your tooth, but if you get it, then you're the king or you're the queen, and you could wear the hat. So it's not super strange, but I feel like saying it, putting a piece of porcelain in a food that you plan on eating, and then you have to be careful that you don't break your tooth on it. But they're very, yeah, it's something you do with your neighbors and anyone in the area for the whole month. So even though it's a 6th of January,
But you cautiously eating that piece of cake.
Yeah. Or usually the kids, they find it first. I'm like, I have it on the cake. So they don't break their tooth, but others who forget,
And then you put a hat on. What kind of hat?
Yeah, it's a crown. I mean, it's the crown. So these cakes come with the crown, so...
Oh, I see.
And so everyone is usually the kid goes up to the table and chooses, okay, this slice goes to this person because you can't look at the slices ahead of time. So everyone starts eating their slice. And the one who has the little tiny person in porcelain means that they're the king of the queen, because it's King's day when all the kings came to visit Jesus. This is the day we're celebrating, except it'd be lovely to actually talk about that, but we just don't. But anyway, so they put on their crown and there we go. And they're the king.
Yeah. Have you had any funny language mishaps? I mean, I'm sure you have anyone in particular you can think of.
I don't think they're probably appropriate for podcasts. I usually make really big errors, so I'm not going to say any of those, but oh boy. Yeah. I'm trying to find a reasonable one. Yeah, there's just so many.
Well, there's a very slight difference between mouche and moche. One means ugly and one means fly. And so I ended up offending a whole group of youth group girls telling them that I needed to leave the table because it's full of ugly people, which was not what I wanted to say. I just wanted to say, there's too many flies in the area, and I'm really annoyed. And they all looked at me like, oh, I realized right away that I said the wrong one. And so I caught myself, and they still like me. So it's fine.
Is there a talent you wish you had?
I've always wanted to fly.
You mean like an airplane?
In the air. I wasn't sure what kind of talent it would be. A superhero task. That's a good one. Yeah, that's a good one. I know. But just fly by myself. I don't need an airplane. Just fly. Oh, yeah.
Yes. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Oh, wow. I was very realistic when I was a child, so it was probably something similar to what I did. Oh, I did want to be a writer. I did want to be a writer when I was probably 13 or 14, so that's still a good one.
Well, thanks so much for taking the time with us, Lindsey, and sharing about what life is like and ministry's like in France. We appreciate it.
It was a pleasure.
So be sure not to miss the bonus material that we have. You may have noticed that Lindsay made a few references to her husband, who is French, in this episode. And so we got a chance to talk to Lindsay a little bit about their story, how they ended up getting together, what their engagement was like, and what their marriage has been like so far for the last three years. So check out in our show notes, our bonus material to find out more about that from Lindsay.
I think it was so great how we got to take a little bit of a deep dive into French culture and French just the way that they think and almost sort of their philosophy of life that we got to hear a little bit about. And I feel like that was just so insightful of Lindsay just to be able to share how that intersects with how she connects with people, how she builds relationships, and how ultimately she's able to share the gospel in a way that's not just like Bible pounding, but is really meeting people where they're at.
I mean, it does show that every culture, and as we've discovered from the different people that we've talked to on this podcast, every culture has its inroads and opportunities for the gospel. Every culture has a need, and it might be very different from one culture to the other, from cultures that apparently are more secular to some that may be more spiritually oriented. But as we heard from Lindsay, even within the French culture, there is this ongoing fascination with spiritual things, whether it be in the occult or in other spiritual practices, that there's an interest in that. And I think God has put that in every culture for people to seek him out and to find. And so it's great to hear how Lindsey is intentionally discerning that and praying about that, and finding ways of communicating that resonate with the French people. And that comes from years of experience, learning the language, learning the culture, and gaining the respect that you need to have before you can enter into those conversations.
Be sure to check out our show notes, because in there you'll see links to a really special video that we did with Lindsay. It's called Starting From Scratch, and it shows her interacting with her friends and neighbors there in France as they both study the word of God and do some baking. And much you'll notice in that video is really how well Lindsay does in her cultural acquisition and her language acquisition. It's really difficult to tell that she is an American in that video because her language is so good. She speaks French so good. So be sure to check that out. And also want to encourage you to check out an article on why missions is still relevant in Europe, and particularly in places like France, why there are still unreached people there, and why we should still be going there to take the gospel along with a lot of other resources that we want you to check out. Be sure to go to our show notes and we'll see you next time.
Thanks for following us on this episode of the Relentless Pursuit Podcast. Our goal is to make missions accessible to show that it's not just reserved for elite super Christians. If you want to be involved, just go to pioneers.org/start and answer a few questions. We have a team who would love to help you discern your calling and what your next steps might be.
At Pioneers, we love to partner with local churches and send teams to people groups with little or no access to the gospel. Keep up with what God is doing by following us on Instagram, Facebook, X, and YouTube, all at PioneersUSA, one word, or visit pioneers.org. Thanks for listening.