Church-planting in Basque country?

So currently I have 2 Pioneers girls with me, Rebekah (US) and Mary (UK). They’ve come to check out the area and what Pioneers is doing here. Today I decided we’d go ‘inland’ and explore real Basque culture in a Basque town called ‘Ustaritz’. The goal was not only to check out the down, but moreso to ‘research’ get to know the needs, the type of people living there, etc. When we first arrived we didn’t see much:

While very Basque, it was like 9am in the morning and it was completely dead. We had also decided to do our daily SOAP in an Ustaritz café, as the Biarritz main street was blocked off today and I couldn’t make it to the usual place. We found a ‘bar’ which was open, but with no one in it. Until now we had not seen any sign of life! Finally we went in and the chef (the waitresses hadn’t started yet) served us coffee. It was kind of awkward at first, as its not the kind of time or place for tourists and here were 3 english speaking girls sitting in a dark café/bar reading their Bibles at 9am. We taste-tested a local baguette (good!) and then walked in the other direction towards the church. If you haven’t found The Church in a French town, then you haven’t yet hit the centre of town. Below you can see me in front of the Basque Cultural Centre:

The village is probably one of the biggest French Basque villages, about 6000ppl and about 25min from Biarritz. But even the local graffiti reminds us: “Ici, ce n’est pas la France, c’est le pays Basque” translated: “This is not France, this is the Basque Country”.

Finally we found the church! Actually pretty modern and ‘evanglistic’ lots of brochures & flyers about what is the Bible, why believe, why come to church, etc. Sadly the flyer on the Bible it says to read the Bible you must go to mass on Sunday and hear from the priest. I’m not sure that our personal, public and small group SOAPs would have much place in a Catholic Church.

Another view in the town centre area. You can see the church, the presbytry (where the priest would live), the Basque cultural centre and the local primary school.

Pioneers has the Basque people listed as one of their “28 priority unreached people groups”.  There is only 1 Basque house church in the whole of French Basque country.  That is, 1 house church for around 250 000 people.  There is no Reformed Church, no missionaries, no one that we know of who has a heart to see the Basque people hear the Gospel.

Church-planting in a Basque town like Ustaritz would be tough.  Cold towards foreigners living in THEIR town, threatening the Basque culture, missionaries would need to be committed to learning both French and Basque language and culture.  Getting involved in the community is renowned to be tough for outsiders.  Who is God calling for this challenge?

1 thought on “Church-planting in Basque country?

  1. what an amazing experience this was. I pray that God will call people to love on the Basque people!

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