This church is part of the Newfrontiers family of churches, a family of churches consisting of more than 800 churches around the world, in every continent, of which there are 8 in France already. We have held onto a prophetic picture that depicted a bow being drawn back from the south-east of England, up through the UK, and then released, sending many arrows, representing people, into continental Europe and beyond for the Gospel.
When the Gateway Church Ashford was planted in 2002, it was done so with the expectation that it would be a conduit for church planting along the Eurostar line. Leader of GCA, Graham Hall, faithfully reminded the growing church that this was part of God’s promised inheritance for them and to not forget what God had said but rather to actively pursue it.
Mike Betts, who leads Relational Mission, one of Newfrontiers’ apostolic teams, brought a prophetic word about 2yrs ago, saying:
In the months that followed the bringing of this word, a reconnaissance prayer team were assembled of French, English and Dutch people to visit and pray in Lille. This happened on 7 September, taking place in the Fives area of Lille. As they prayed and prophesied, a theme became evident that God was going to give us not only new wine but also new wineskins; the 18s-30s generation will be key to pioneering the work and God wants an altar of worship built to His design, not man’s (Judges 6).
Some of the key prophetic words that were brought include:
- Mike Betts: “That the way Eurostar developed its rail service holds a pattern for us. To start building the initiative with visibility, building it big. Almost appearing stupid in the way we are to do it. It may appear non-economically viable, as the schedule and regularity of timetable visits are larger than the number of people catching the train. But like Noah, we are to build big, with momentum and visibility. The service was built before the people came. Graham (Hall) is to be like a guard on the platform, pointing people to the carriages. People will start to get on board. Create a schedule!”
- Pete Penberthy: “God is shaping an arrow that will travel many times. As it does so, it will become stronger and it will penetrate further resulting in a growing confidence and faith, with great penetration into the city.”
- Norman Blowes: “A banner will be unfurled, not a flag. It will spread out and many people will see it. The banner is a schedule that many people will see from afar. It will attract from far & wide, building confidence. We are not to plan small, but big plans, big banner.”
- Joop Bakker: “What is about to happen is an intergenerational thing. God promised the land to Abraham and used Moses to prepare the people for the taking of the land. Then Joshua, representing the next younger generation, entered the land. ‘There is a land that I will give to your offspring so prepare the people for taking the land.”
- Pete Penberthy (from Isaiah 61): “I will provide oil and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. The ancient ruins and towers will be rebuilt. The soil makes the young plants spring up.”
- David Hermy’s prophetic song: “Because I am good, I will pour out my Spirit in the city. I will restore peace and joy in this city. I will bring freedom in this city. There will be songs of joy. I will come in power in this city.”
Full of faith, the team reported of this trip at an RM Prayer & Vision gathering the very next day. Many were stirred as the news of what God had said was shared, including me. This was the first point that I genuinely felt a deposit of faith from God for this initiative. There was a corporate excitement to see ‘treasure hunting’ and healing on the streets take place. It was prophesied that we would find ‘a man of peace’ in the city who would help us. One person was so moved that he gave £100 to Michael Garcia, the French Impacter based at GCA, to invest in the unfolding plans! This was a clear indication of growing faith and an indicator that God would provide resources for Lille. Off the back of that day, 8 September, I decided I needed to push the door in faith for being involved in this initiative.
Graham, Michael and I made a trip to Lille on 19 November, with the intent of praying in the city and to meet an existing French pastor from Lille called Silvain Biville. He leads a charismatic, Bible believing church in the Villeneuve-d’Asq area to the east of Lille, which is part of the Christian Outreach Centre network. As a bit of background info, Silvain’s father is Claude Biville, one of the senior leaders of the Assemblies of God network in France, who invited Terry Virgo to speak at an AOG conference in the recent past. Claude’s daughter (Silvain’s sister) is Rachel Lee, married to Jamie, who leads the Newfrontiers church in Plumstead, London. Our time with Silvain was wonderful! A uniting of hearts for the gospel with a clear welcoming heart from Silvain – ‘a man of peace!’ He even offered his building for us to use should we want to host some initial meetings! This experience only served to fuel my passion for Lille.