Following Christ in France
I met Josias in 2005 in France at camp where I was the counselor for his 10 year old brother. When we all had free time Josias became my shadow, making me sing gospel or R&B songs. He would tell me about his life in the suburbs of Paris with his friends, most of whom were troublemakers.
On the final night of camp our 15 year old roommate, David, looked shaken up while he was packing. He explained that he was moved by the camp speaker and knew it was true that only Jesus could save him. But he felt too unworthy. So we unpacked grace and when I asked if there was anything preventing him from repenting and receiving that grace, he said there was no obstacle and we prayed right there! Of course my thoughts then turned to Josias, but my 17 year old shadow was almost offensively uninterested (his words now).
As camp came to a close and it was time to say goodbye, Josias and I both had a hard time managing our sadness. We both knew it would be hard to continue our friendship. Who knew when I’d be back? Since he knew it meant so much to me, he grudgingly took the Bible I offered as a parting gift, saying only, “Maybe I’ll get some use out of it one day.”
That sentence became my hope and prayer for him and the 60 million French people who are far from God. That hope led me to join UWM in 2007 with the intention of going to France. Josias and I spoke a few times and met in 2010, but he was way too busy enjoying life to settle down or stay in touch. I moved to France in 2012 to work with Brie Church in the Paris region where we immediately reconnected. By now Josias had married a woman from Congo who already had a daughter, and with whom he had two more daughters.
That Bible, and the testimony of my affection for him, led Josias to start digging into his faith and to volunteer in the same camp. He began to go to church when he married but remained on the fence about committing his life to Jesus. Since then I walked with him through a bitter divorce and the loneliness afterwards. He was angry at God because his ex-wife was “supposedly” a believer. How could she leave? He walked with me through heart-break. We vacationed with his dad, siblings and kids. He joined my small group. But he was always on the fence because of unresolved sin.
Until a few days ago…
I called to wish him Happy Birthday and as we were saying goodbye, the rascal said…”By the way, if you’re back in time, I will be baptized on December 16th”.
29 year-old father of 3, rugby player, counselor in a state institution for teens with special needs, and now, follower of Christ.
By: Ricardo Walker, Serving in France