Celtic tribes originally settled the land today known as France. The Roman Empire conquered and annexed the land in the second century B.C., 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 Middle 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 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 Hélène 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, Judaism, Buddhism, and Protestantism. Missionaries from the U.S. Assemblies of God are working with French pastors and believers to change the country’s spiritual condition.
The Assemblies of God of France constitutes the largest evangelical church in the country. They report the following statistics: 429 ministers, 743 churches and outstations, and 60,626 members and adherents.
Vie et Lumière (“life and light”) is the Gypsy Pentecostal Movement in France. Clement LeCossec founded the ministry among this traveling community. Today they consist of approximately 100,000 baptized believers and 210,000 adherents among adults, youth, and children. They report 1350 ordained ministers, 160 churches, 40 home missions works, and one Bible school with 150 students.
Additional Facts About France
Area: 248,572 square miles
Population: 67.1 million
Urbanization: 80.4 percent
Agriculture: grains, corn fruit, vegetables, and livestock
Industry: steel, chemicals, textiles, tourism, wine, perfume, aircraft, machinery, and electronic equipment