PK to Europe 2018 travel blog


St. Etienne du Mont Church

When Catholics came to arrest Calvin, he climbed from this window on...

First Church Calvin Publicly Proclaimed His Reformed Faith; Catholics Destroyed the Church

Notre Dam

Notre Dam—The Judgment

Seine River

David and Me at Notre Dam

David and Me at the Seine

On Sunday, David and I got on the road early. The drive back to CDG airport was uneventful. We turned the car in. Unfortunately, I had 10 days to throw stuff in every conceivable corner of the car. I had never taken my suitcase out of the car, figuring I was never going to be any place long enough for it to matter. So, I had dirty clothes thrown all over the boot. David was kind enough not to laugh outloud at me as I pulled all my junk into the Hertz parking lot to get it repacked for the short subway ride into town.

We found the subway—the metro—and bought tickets. We were waiting in line to use one of the machines. Some lady asked us where we were going. She had this little handheld ticket machine and sold us our tickets on the spot. I gave her money but wondered if I had just gotten scammed. Tickets got us through the turnstile, so I guess she was scamming everyone if she was scamming anyone.

We grabbed a seat and watched the outskirts of Paris roll by until we dipped underground. I had set the GPS to get us walking in the right way to the hotel. The plan was to meet Pastor Chai at the hotel at 1 p.m. We arrived about 12:30 and got checked in. Shortly after 1, Pastor Chai showed up. I recognized him because there are not a lot of Koreans around here and because he entered in a rush looking all over for someone—me, as it turned out.

Pastor Chai is a 30 year Korean Missionary to France. He pastors a small International Church, works with local pastors, and participates in more than one group of Evangelical pastors and leaders. Over the last 20 years, evangelical believers in France have increased from about one percent of the population to about three percent. I think the percentage of Evangelicals in America have shrunk by percentage in the same time. While 60 percent of the French still claim to be Catholic, studies have indicated that only about five percent are practicing Catholics. About five percent of the population are Muslim, though they are almost exclusively immigrants.

Pastor Chai has trained himself on all things French Protestantism. Of course, France is the place of origin of John Calvin and many of his early friends and disciples—such as John Knox—met him in Paris. According to Pastor Chai, the reformer was never educated in seminary, but mostly was taught by the humanists of early French Renaissance. The study of Hebrew and Greek were mostly forbidden to all but priests, but a new law school in France provided Calvin a place to study the languages. When most of the Protestants were arrested and some 800 were killed in Paris, Calvin disguised himself as a peasant and escaped for Switzerland, never to return to Paris.

On Monday and Tuesday, Pastor Chai took us all over Paris. His knowledge of the reformation in France is impressive. We saw not only the Pantheon, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dam, but also the garage that once served as the print shop for the first (illegal, I think) French copy of the Bible, the destroyed wall of the church where Calvin first affirmed in a sermon is reformation views, the window Calvin escaped from when his friends were being arrested, the location of the genocide of many Protestant believers, and so on. It has been warm and I’ve had a lot to do in preparing for class, but David has been great help.

We began class on Monday night. It seems like a real job to get class going. The first night we had technical difficulties in getting PowerPoint to work. I can teach without it, but it does help. The second night, my translator was over 45 minutes late—a real challenge since most of the class speaks almost no English.

The class is great—about 11 people, mostly African, though somehow we have two Indians and a Bolivian. Since David is of Colombian heritage, he and Angel—the Bolivian—have had long conversations in Spanish. The class began with their arms folded across their chest waiting for me to impress them. As we have spent time digging into a story about John Mark and discussing Bible study methods, the class seems more relaxed and engaged.

Today—Wednesday—we are meeting a couple of American missionaries for lunch. Should be fun.

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