Paul grew up in rural Indiana and began to study French in junior high through his sophomore year of college. It was there at Indiana University that he heard God’s call to pastoral ministry and felt a desire to do ministry in France. Toward the end of college, he looked into short-term mission opportunities there but ultimately joined a team to help plant a church in New Jersey that would become Jacob’s Well.
Our family is thankful for that decision to move to New Jersey, because (A) Paul wouldn’t have met Abby, and (B) Silas, Ollie, and Lewis wouldn’t be with us today! Abby and Paul met when she moved there to be a nanny for her nephew Jack after graduating from Union University in 2010. We were married a year later on a farm in Neshanic Station, NJ, and our honeymoon gift from our pastor and several friends was the chance to take our first trip to France to spend a week in Paris and Normandy.
During that first trip to France, we drove through picturesque fields of sunflowers in the French countryside. Abby got to take an important family picture at Normandy Beach, and we ate in small cafés and majestic chateaus… but one thing was clear. Paul was feeling increasingly drawn to live and do ministry in France and Abby (though she really enjoyed it!) was not. And so we moved to Abby’s hometown in Jackson, TN, and began to serve in full-time ministry there while starting seminary at the SBTS Extension Center in Jackson… (read more!)
We took our second trip to France in April 2017 nearly six years after our honeymoon in 2011. Thanks to a missions scholarship from West Jackson (where Paul currently serves as a minister) we were able to spend a week without the kids in Paris and around Versailles. While there we enjoyed meeting a British family serving with Acts 29 Europe who allowed us to stay with them and ask lots of questions about how we could be involved with ministry in France while remaining rooted in the US.
Our goal for the week was simply to come home with two or three meaningful short-term mission connections for our community group. But by the end of our trip, it was clear to us that the real need was for long-term missionaries on the ground. It didn’t seem like there were any clear and pressing short-term needs for us to help with… other than to become missionaries ourselves! Ironically, it would be less than a year before Abby would suggest revisiting the idea of living on mission in France.
In many ways, God had begun to reveal to us that Jackson was not our long-term home. While this was difficult to accept at first, over time we began to see God’s providence even as several doors closed. After many discussions, Skype calls with mission contacts, and late-night episodes of House Hunters International, we finally began to “see” a much clearer picture of life and ministry overseas. In the end, everything was pointing to the northwest side of Paris.
We finally felt like we had a vision for how God could use our family in France. In the beginning, neither of us expected to commit to relocating our family overseas. But there is a great Gospel need in France, and exciting opportunities to use our gifts for God’s glory there. We have an incredible opportunity to be on the ground assisting in church planting and outreach in this beautiful country that Paul has loved since junior high (and Abby coincidentally used as the theme for her childhood bedroom, complete with an Eiffel Tower lamp!).
We hope that you will consider joining us in this journey of extending hope to others through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that the Lord has great things in store, immeasurably more than we can ask or even think (Ephesians 3:20). But we also know that cross-cultural ministry is difficult and requires extensive financial and prayer support from family and friends. If you want to learn more about our ministry opportunities and specific responsibilities, read more below.