Celtic tribes originally settled the land known today as France. The Roman Empire conquered and annexed the land in the second century BC, naming it Gaul. After the Roman Empire fell, other peoples inhabited the land, most notably the Germanic Franks (from whom France gets its name). In the Middles Ages, France gained power and influence over much of Europe’s affairs, fighting several wars with Britain and participating in the Crusades.
After several centuries, the French crown was deposed and one of the world’s first republics rose up. Napoleon Bonaparte came to power in the 1800s and briefly gave France a place of power in the world. After Bonaparte’s defeat, France expanded its influence overseas, mostly in Africa and North America. During World Wars I and II, France was invaded and became host to some of the bloodiest battles ever fought in history. France emerged intact and is a hub of culture, art, cuisine and tourism in Europe today.
The Pentecostal Movement has been present in France for at least 92 years. In 1909, Helen Biolley opened a Christian boarding house in Le Havre. Missionaries on their way to French-speaking nations frequently stopped there to learn the language. Biolley and a group of women began to pray for revival and evangelism in France. Later on, an Englishman named Douglas Scott came to the boarding house and began to minister. God used Scott’s ministry to establish many churches in France. In 1932, these churches formed the Assemblies of God in France.
The Movement Today
About 40 percent of France’s population claim to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. 40 percent say they have no religion at all, and the rest belong to Islam, Judaisim, Buddhism and Protestantism. Missionaries from the American Assemblies of God are working with French pastors and believers to change the country’s spiritual condition. The Assemblies of God of France constitute the largest evangelical church in the country.
The Assemblies of God in France report the following statistics: 429 ministers, 743 churches and outstations, and 60,626 members and adherents.
“Vie et Lumière” meaning Life and Light is the gypsy Pentecostal movement in France. Clement LeCossec founded the minstry among this “traveling” community.
Today the movement consists, in approximate numbers, of 100,000 baptized believers and 210,000 adult, youth and children adherents. They report 1350 ordained ministers, 160 churches, 40 home missions works, and one Bible school with 150 students.
Additional Facts About France
- Capital: Paris
- Area: 213,010 square miles
- Population: 63.9 million
- Urbanization: 75 percent
- Agriculture: Grains, corn fruit, vegetables and livestock
- Industry: Steel, chemicals, textiles, tourism, wine, perfume, aircraft, machinery, electronic equipment