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Team Testimony: Danny and Leanne Groening

Danny and Leanne Groening
Killarney Mennonite Church
Killarney, MB, Canada
March 19 – 30, 2009
Leaders: Danny & Leanne Groening
“The Crazy Canucks

In the late summer of 2008, Harry and Mars Enns, the directors of BLF USA, came to our church and gave a presentation on BLF and challenged us to be the first ALL CANADIAN Impressions Team to France. A number of us instantly felt the call to accept the challenge and so in the church foyer following the service, we committed ourselves to going. Pretty cool EH? (we discovered that we do say that a lot) So after almost a year of fundraising and preparation it was slightly surreal to finally step off the plane in Brussels and actually be there.

We were met at the airport by our host Kevin Eggleston; a retired firefighter, who we later learned has a heart of gold to match his firefighting stature and sense of humour to go with it all. We loaded up into the trusty Peugot van and upon arriving in France it didn’t take too long for us notice that absolutely nothing is square and that the roads are extremely narrow. This made for some early excitement when our van had a close encounter with a jogger. Who knew that in France, jogging is an extreme sport?!? One of our team members who had brought her jogging gear along decided at that moment to leave the gear in the bag and save the jogging for the safety of the flat and wide Manitoba prairie roads.

That seemed to set the tone early for our team as the excitement for the trip never waned and in fact, kept building until the very end as each day had something new and exciting in store for us. On the very first day we met Bill Kapitaniuk (one of the founding fathers of the Print-shop whose youthfulness belies the eighty candles on his birthday cake) and his son Philip who, as the Director of BLF Europe, has a passion for reaching the French speaking world for Christ that is dangerously contagious for anyone he comes in contact with.

Then on Saturday we headed out on the roughly four hour drive from the guest house in Feignies to the France Pour Christ (or France Pour Christ in French) headquarters in Drulingen. Along the way we took in some of the most picturesque French countryside you can imagine and oh, did I forget to mention that we stopped to tour an ancient castle in the Belgian town of Bouillon? Not exactly something you see every day in the prairies of Manitoba; simply breathtaking!

Arriving in Drulingen we met our hosts, Jean-Pierre and Abbie along with Martine Stamp who were more than gracious hosts and had a real sense of humour with some of our ill fated attempts at speaking French. In addition, to say that Abbie is a fabulous cook is a gross understatement as we looked forward to each and every meal.

On Sunday we went with them to church and in spite of the language barrier, the reception we received was unbelievably warm and genuine. Immediately the passage came to my mind from Ephesians 4:4-5: “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Here we were as people of different nationalities from either side of an ocean, speaking different languages and have never before met and yet I felt at home with them as my brother and sisters in Christ. It was truly an extraordinary experience that only God could engineer by His Spirit. We spent the afternoon getting to know many of the people from that church while doing some sightseeing together. It was a day I know that none of us will ever forget.

We spent the next four days doing various repairs and renovations on the headquarters. We also had the opportunity on Tuesday to visit a church in Haguenau, meet the staff there and hear about their ministry, joys and struggles. Once again in a very short time we made lasting friendships and I especially enjoyed the chance to visit with one of the church elders who, like me, is named Danny; truly a blessing to be able to pray together with them and share from our hearts with each other. Visiting with them it became readily apparent to us the tremendous challenges that the church faces in France as we learned that they are not allowed to evangelize anyone under the age of 18 without their parents consent. Couple that together with the popular French attitude of “been there, done that” in regards to Christianity and it is an uphill battle. To my fellow believers there I would say, “With men nothing is possible, but with God, all things are possible.” Keep fighting the good fight!

For us as a team, it was truly amazing and humbling for us to see just how much our simply visiting was an encouragement to them and truly appreciated.

Back in Drulingen on our last night there, we had the opportunity to visit with Alain Stamp the BLF Europe President. This man simply exudes passion and vision without even speaking a word; we were truly inspired and challenged by this evening with him. Especially challenging for me was hearing that currently France Pour Christ does not receive ANY financial support from churches in Canada or the United States. I believe that it’s time for us in Canada to begin to step up in this regard.

Moving along, Friday found us learning a new trade in the Print shop in Marpent and at days’ end we had helped in the final assembly of over 3,000 “Parole Vivant” Bibles. I definitely have a new found appreciation for all the work and the seemingly countless steps that goes into making a single book.

There are countless more things that I could share, but for the sake of time I will stop. Did I mention the nearly indescribable Cathedral in Strasbourg? Paris? The Eiffel Tower? The Notre Dame Cathedral? The Louvre? The Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge? The French Sasquatch? Ok, the last one is an inside joke, I only share it to let you know that we had an absolutely amazing adventure that none of us will ever forget and I trust will also have a ripple effect that will carry on in eternity.

To everyone we’ve met along our journey, you have truly made a lasting Impression on us. May

God richly bless you!

Danny and Leanne Groening

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