Chuck Powers Baptizing New Believer

Answered Prayers

By: Jeanette Windle with BCM France Team

Once identifying as a Christian nation, France is in a spiritual war with witchcraft, spiritism, atheism, and a growing Islamic demographic far more prevalent today than Bible-believing Christians. Just one percent identify as evangelical, far less in northern France, where alcoholism, domestic abuse, suicide, and unemployment are also rampant.

After more than twenty years as directors of BCM France’s Center Seven in southern France, Chuck and Cathy Powers moved north to start a new ministry center first in Devres, then in Samer near the English Channel (see “Responding to a New Macedonian Call,” BCM World, April 2018). They also began working with a pastorless church in nearby Boulogne sur Mer. Their only coworkers were daughter and son-in-law Michelle and Ben Hildebrand. They began praying that God would bring new missionaries to the BCM France team.

In walked God’s answer to their prayers: Clarence and Barbara Yearwood. The couple were born and raised in Guyana, a South American country sharing an Atlantic coast line with Suriname, and French Guiana. They began dating as teenagers and were twenty-one when Barbara became pregnant. Wanting to marry before the baby was born, they set a wedding date. That was when Clarence discovered he needed a birth certificate to get a marriage license. His mother had died when he was only six months old. A drunkard, his father never bothered to register Clarence’s birth.

Clarence and Barbara Yearwood

Unhappily, the young couple settled for a common-law marriage. Barbara recommitted her life to Christ after their second child was born, then Clarence. They began attending church and wanted to serve God in ministry But it weighed on them both that they weren’t legally married. Without a birth certificate, they saw no way forward. Many other opportunities were denied their growing family because Clarence had no official I.D.

Then a church friend found out about their dilemma. She told the couple, “Look, I have a relative who is a justice of the peace. I will be your ‘auntie’ to testify Clarence is who he says, and my relative can give you a retroactive birth registration.”

As soon as the paperwork was completed, Clarence headed to the pastor’s house, where he announced, “I’ve got my birth certificate. I’m ready to get married.”

“We’ll have to announce the bans,” the pastor responded calmly. “So you’ll have to wait another week.”

A week later at age thirty-four, Clarence and Barbara finally had their church wedding. Their family grew to five children, including a young nephew whose mother had passed away. But life in Guyana held few economic opportunities to provide for such a large family. In 1999, Clarence traveled French Guiana, which as an overseas department of France was part of the European Union with a more stable economy. He found construction work. In 2003, Barbara and the three children still at home joined him.

Boulogne SS Craft

Worship Time Church Retreat – BCM France Center

Their biggest challenge was learning French since Guyana was an English-speaking nation. Finding a church, Clarence and Barbara became increasingly involved in ministry. Barbara taught Sunday school and was part of the music ministry. Clarence was a leader of men’s ministry and taught adult Sunday school. Both led cell groups.

The family eventually received their residency cards, which meant they could freely travel to France. One daughter moved to France to study law. Two brothers followed. Their oldest daughter was already married. In 2016, Barbara moved to France to be close to their younger children while Clarence stayed behind to work. Arriving in Devres, she immediately began searching for an evangelical church. The church Chuck pastored was just a five-minute walk from her new home.

Chuck asked the church to pray that God would provide a good job for Clarence so he could join Barbara. A short time later, God answered with a job right in Desvres. The Yearwoods immediately began serving in the church. Chuck and Cathy quickly realized Clarence and Barbara were God’s answer to their prayers for new missionaries. They are now officially part of the BCM France team.

Church Retreat Meal Inner Courtyard – BCM France Center

Once a trucking hangar, the BCM center in Samir has been recently completed as a multipurpose gymnasium/camp/church that seats up to 230. More than two hundred attended its 2023inauguration, including the mayor. The facility is used for Christian sports events, concerts, day camps, church retreats, and seminars. A church plant meets there Sunday afternoons. The Boulogne church continues to meet Sunday mornings, and a third church plant meets Thursday evenings.

Barbara serves with Cathy and Michelle in children’s and women’s ministry and leads music. Clarence serves as church deacon and maintains the center infrastructure. But his passion is evangelism. He quickly found this was far more difficult in France than South America. He was singing Christian music with Ben and Michelle in a nearby park when the police warned them that people paid to enter the park, and bothering them with religion wasn’t allowed.

Leaving, the team spent time praying that God would open a door. They returned to the park, this time a different area. This time, the police left them alone, and they spent a peaceful evening intermixing gospel music with creative evangelistic presentations. Clarence does outdoor evangelism several times a month with other church members. This includes going into the streets to hand out gospels and sharing their faith with interested passersby. They routinely receive angry responses, are told to shut up or leave, that Jesus is dead, or that He never existed. It is also illegal to proselytize or give religious literature to minors under eighteen.

All this makes reaching people with the gospel outside of church services very difficult. One solution is friendship evangelism. Michelle and Ben have five daughters in the French school system. The BCM France team invites classmates and school parents over for fun cross-cultural activities such as a Fourth of July celebration or Thanksgiving feast. As opportunities permit, they share their faith. They are now well-known as evangelical missionaries, so acquaintances will approach with spiritual questions. A steady number of new converts are being baptized.

With the Samir center’s growing ministry, the BCM France team has two additional goals for the near future. First to identify church members serious about their faith and train them in leadership and evangelism so they can reach their families and friends. The second is to start a Christian school. The need was highlighted at a recent school program Michelle and Ben attended. The four-year-old class emerged onstage with a traffic sign that read, “Highway to Hell,” the song they’d been assigned to sing for their parents.

“After all these years, God has given us this big, beautiful center,” Michelle points out. “It won’t be easy as France has a lot of regulations for schools. But Christian children need an education that doesn’t mock their faith, and Lord willing, we’d like to make that possible here.”

Boulougne BCM France Church

Related Articles

BCM In The Kingdom Of Eswatini

Eswatini Bible ClubBy: Lindiwe R. Simelane-Mbhamali, Children’s Ministry DirectorGod works in wonderful ways to carry out His purposes. He has done so for us in the Kingdom of Eswatini to fulfil our passion in reaching children for Christ. The potential of continued...

read more

Signing God’s New Life In Ukraine

Teaching Deaf MinistryBy: Jeanette Windle with Victor and Nadia AnokhinUkraine was still firmly behind the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union when Victor and Nadia Anokhin first met in the capital city of Kiev where both grew up. Nadia’s parents took their children each...

read more

New Doors Opening For BCM Germany

Baptizing Ukraine RefugeeBy: Jeanette WindleBCM Germany has experienced much change and growth in recent years. With less than three percent of Germany’s population identifying as Bible-believing followers of Jesus Christ, an emphasis has been church-planting,...

read more