Anke van der Sluijs
So few people in this area know God. I hope that they shall come to know Him. Not just for eternal life, but also to be able to live today with Him.
Anke van der Sluijs is a missionary in the Pyrenees region in France. Since the end of 2013 she has been living and working in the well-known old fortified town of Carcassonne in the Aude department. She is part of Le Sarment church, a little congregation of about 20 that meets in the town and draws people from a radius of 100 km. Its the base from which Anke tries to bring the gospel to people.
Anke has been involved in the South of France since 2009. She started in Saint Girons and moved to the Aude department 50 km from Carcassonne in December 2013.
It’s a beautiful region with nice landscapes, hills and some high mountains. There are also vineyards, agriculture and some cattle-breeding. However, there is also much spiritual darkness and emptiness. It is one of the poorest regions of France, with high unemployment. There are not many Christians and the little congregations are few and far between.
This region is attractive to people who are looking for answers to their inner emptiness and fears. There’s an interest in New Age philosophy, transcendental meditation, contact with the spiritual world and many consult spiritual healers. One mountain, the Pic de Bugarach, is well-known for reputed UFO sightings. Thousands of people came there hoping to be saved when the end of the world was forecast in 2012.
Announcing the gospel in a direct way can be difficult in France which is proud of its ‘laïcité’. This means that most evangelism is done through one-to-one conversations and practical projects.
Anke has known this region for many years and has seen the great spiritual need. Her desire to share Jesus with its people has grown. She is a team leader in Le Sarment church and leads one of their house groups some 50 km from Carcassonne. This enables her to welcome and teach new people who are looking for the gospel. Most of her daily work is contacting people and talking with them one-to-one. In this way she hopes to make lasting relationships, be a good witness for Jesus and show how the gospel can change lives. In addition she is involved in children’s and youth work.