The Lord of Lourdes
25 Nov 2016
If I said the words “Madonna and Lourdes” you might start thinking about the controversial singer and her daughter. But did you know that Lourdes is a town in France that is captivated by worship of The Madonna, the mother of Jesus?
Lourdes is a Catholic town with a population of around 15,000 people. It hosts almost six million pilgrims every year, who come seeking the Virgin Mary for healing. It was here in Lourdes in 1858 that fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous saw apparitions of a lady who declared herself to be the Immaculate Conception. Nearly 800 years before, the region had been given to the authority of the Virgin Mary. Today the town is filled with hotels and religious souvenir shops for pilgrims, and the entire economy of Lourdes is dependent on the business of Mary-worship.
There hasn’t been a Protestant church in Lourdes for more than 35 years. In 2015, a Pioneers team moved into town. The team is led by Australian Pioneers worker Lauren, and they have been labouring through prayer and relationship building over many years towards the goal the Lord placed on their hearts: that Jesus would be worshipped by a body of believers in Lourdes. This has required a battle in the heavenly realms, as they are facing an opposition that is felt, but often unseen. But praise God, greater is he that is in us! We are excited to share that on the 10th December 2016 the new evangelical church was launched in Lourdes with a Christmas gathering. Official services will begin soon.
Aussie teacher Hannah is preparing to join the Lourdes team in 2017 and step into this amazing but challenging ministry. She recently held a trivia night as a fundraiser towards her preparation costs to move to France, and experienced first-hand one of those small miracles that can only be our strong and tender-hearted God, encouraging her to keep stepping forward in her calling. Hannah tells us what happened that night.
“At the Trivia Night, I did not speak of a specific target I was trying to raise, but in my heart I was hoping that we would raise $2000. This would be enough to cover the Transition Training (missions preparation course) I am doing in January, with enough left over for some of my other missions expenses in the New Year. When I counted the money from the night (excluding coins), I had exactly $2000. Now that was amazing, but I knew that I still had to pay the $316.80 for the room hire and that I’d put in $70 in coins myself for change for the games. So, I thought, well I almost made it to my goal, I’ll just count the coins from the night and see if it’s near the amount I need to cover the $386.80. Well, I counted the coins, and guess how much they totaled? $386.80 – EXACTLY! I don’t even know how, as nothing actually cost 80 cents on the night – but God knows what we need before we even ask for it! This means I broke even at exactly $2000, the amount I had thought of only in my head as the amount I was hoping for. This was such an encouragement to me – God was assuring me that He was with me – that He is in this, and that, as it says in my favourite Psalm, He really does “perceive my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:2).”
Please pray for the new church in Lourdes, as they establish a light in the darkness. They will be coming across much opposition, so pray that their faith will stay strong and that they would be led by God’s wisdom. Pray too for Hannah as she prepares to join the team. She will be gathering a support network to pray for her and support her financially. Give Pioneers a call if you would like to be a part of what God is doing in Lourdes by supporting Hannah or Lauren.