We are waking up this morning to the realization that yesterday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France was not a nightmare. It was very real. Here are seven things provided by Pioneers International missionaries in France to keep in mind as you ponder and pray for those affected by the attack in Nice:
1. Most people around the world think of Nice as a glamorous beach vacation destination, home to mansions, yachts, and movie stars. But Nice is also home to a significant Muslim population (France has the largest percentage of Muslims as compared to their total population in the EU). Nice is the second largest French city on the Mediterranean, after Marseilles, which is the most Muslim French city with a 20% Muslim population. The Joshua Project says that Nice is a “formerly or falsely reached” city.
2. This attack follows the Charlie Hedbo newspaper attack (killing 12) in January 2015 and the attacks on the Bataclan Theatre and Stade de France (killing 130) in November 2015. The people of France are grieving deeply and again.
3. Pioneers International missionaries in France report that people are increasingly afraid and have little faith in politicians to protect them from such heinous, random, and unpredictable acts of barbary. These events trigger strong feelings of fatalism and despair, a feeling that the world is spinning out of control, leading the secular French to often turn to astrology and sorcery for guidance. Without a deep faith in the Lord people are filled with fear.
4. Pioneers International has a team in Nice ministering to the Muslim population. Situations like this—terrorist attacks done in the name of Islam—cause many moderate Muslims to question their faith in a supposed religion of peace. Ask the Lord to provoke Muslims across France to seek God and question their faith.
5. There are small churches in Nice who will be assisting those who are grieving. Ask the Lord to allow these small congregations to be a source of His love and that many would see the compassion of local believers. Ask the Lord for open doors for the Gospel.
6. Pray that the authors of this attack and the mosque associated with the attacker’s radicalization would be soon identified and respective imams and mosque leaders deported, as that is increasingly how France deals with terrorists.
7. Pioneers International has 12 other teams in France working in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Bayonne, Lourdes, Lilles, and Nantes. They minister among other Muslim populations and also agnostics and cultural Catholics. Operation World reports that France has an Evangelical population of less than 1%. Pray that they would be able to minister to an increasingly fearful France and that France would turn to the Lord and be filled with a peace that surpasses understanding.