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September 25, 2019

By Vivi Feiser ‘21

PARIS, France — We are in week five of Asbury University’s Paris Semester! In the time we’ve been here, I’ve found that Paris is a beautiful city, and the people are much nicer than some stereotypes might indicate. The food is amazing, as is the artwork and the architecture!

One thing I’ve enjoyed while being here is the chance to explore spiritual vitality in the French context. Each week, our group gathers for a devotional, prayer and fellowship. We’ve also gotten to try out different churches on Sundays, both in French and English. I’ve found it interesting that while there are cathedrals and churches seemingly on every street, there is a noticeable absence of faith in the culture as France is a secular nation.

On one hand, it’s kind of refreshing that people don’t call themselves “Christian” just to fulfill a cultural norm. They don’t live behind a false pretense, like some in the United States do. Those who say they are God-fearing Christians are usually in ardent pursuit of Jesus.

But on the other hand, the spiritual emptiness is tangible and, at times, disheartening. People can be dismissive of God and religion, if it gets brought up at all.

So, in response to this Spiritual apathy, I fix my eyes on the Author and Creator and keep going. I continue my pursuit of God. I run the race laid out before me and submit myself to God to use as a vessel by going to church, having fellowship with other believers and spending time in scripture. The people who show up to church really want to be there, and, at least to some degree, are in pursuit of God. That’s been incredibly refreshing to experience here.

I think attending church here is a little bit of what heaven will be like: people of every nation, all gathering to worship the one true God. It is breathtaking and humbling and beautiful to be a part of it. God is not just in the U.S. He is in the hearts of Senegalese, French and Chinese believers. To worship with such a community of believers is truly a blessing, one I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience. I’m looking forward to continuing to explore my faith in France during the next couple of months on Paris Semester.