"When do we start?" The new American ambassador to France had just arrived in June of 1985. Col. Dan Painter, U.S. liaison with French forces, had just met him at a reception. When Col. Painter offered to pray weekly him, the ambassador gave his famous reply: "When do we start?" They prayed together weekly for four years.
When Dan Painter and his wife Nancy took a new posting in Prague, Czech Republic, he became the attache for another ambassador, Shirley Temple Black. While in Prague, the Painters saw a crying need for diplomats and military personnel to have a church, so they helped plant a new, international, English-speaking church. This led to the planting of international churches in Aix-en-Provence, Lyon, and Marseilles.
Like-minded pastors from other cities began to link arms around this vision, and a network in Europe was born: International Christian Community (ICC). Starting October 27, pastors from around Europe will be gathering in St. Paul de Vence, France, for the ICC retreat for pastors and families. This annual event is an oasis of community and vision for pastors laboring in the challenging mission field of Europe. Molly and I will be serving these pastors this week, doing everything we can to encourage them. We are grateful to represent the global heart of Lake Baldwin Church as we partner with this ministry.
Dan Painter and the ICC-affiliated pastors have discovered something. The world is coming to the cities of Europe. The new global culture is a vibrant mix of global business leaders, students, diplomats, immigrants, and host-country nationals, all speaking the new global language of English. It's a new missional space where more churches are needed.
When Dan Painter met the U.S. ambassador to France in 1985, he was in the right place at the right time. Now, with the nations coming to Europe, Dan is again in the right place at the right time. And, with each church that joins the network, more people are echoing the words of the ambassador: "When do we start?"