The pastor, the passion and the escaped slave

A woman tricked into slavery and locked in a house escapes her prison by climbing through a window. She runs for her freedom. Years later, she steps into the room in the picture above and shares her story with a BMS World Mission worker passionate about showing people the love of Jesus. That love means other stories are being heard.

The homeless women who visit the day shelter in Massy, near Paris, are first offered a cup of tea and a biscuit. That’s what most of us want after a hard day. But we already have what the women get next: warm clothes, something more substantial to eat, and a person to talk to.

BMS mission worker Christine Kling often has the privilege of being that person. Christine helped set the centre up early last year, prompted by and partnering with the pastor of the local Reformed church. Some of the women who come are young, pregnant and alone. All are deprived of rest.

“There are not many places for them,” says Christine, who is the pastor of the Baptist church in nearby Gif-sur-Yvette. “As a woman, you think, ‘I have to do something’.”

The essence of the gospel message is to welcome the foreigner. We have to lead the way.

BMS mission worker Christine Kling gives a sermon in France
BMS worker Christine Kling not only helps run a day centre for homeless women near Paris and is pastor of a church, she’s also a residential home chaplain, and works for the French Baptist Federation, organising events and helping to produce newsletters.

Some of the women reveal glimpses of what they’re going through. The stories are of extreme poverty, of living outside the securities of shelter and nourishment. One story is particularly harrowing. A woman, now in her 50s, arrived in France many years ago, travelling on the promise of a job, of income she’d never enjoyed up to that point. What she’d actually been led into was slavery.

She was locked in a house, forced to work as a cleaner, and given no bed to sleep on, just a chair. One day she managed to escape through a window and was taken in by a family – and worked for them as a domestic servant for ten years. She married, but was soon abused by her husband and had to escape again. This is how she ended up on the streets; homeless, unable to read or write, and needing someone who cared. Her story is the story of many women who visit the shelter. Most are asylum seekers with no friends or family to help them. This is where the Church steps in to help.

“The essence of the gospel is to welcome the foreigner,” says Christine. “We have to lead the way.”

Pray for Christine and the women
  • Pray for God to use Christine and for the Holy Spirit to guide her to make every encounter rich with Christ’s love.
  • Pray for God’s blessing on the women who use the shelter.
  • Pray the shelter would have all the resources it needs to help the women.
  • Pray for wisdom for all the volunteers who serve these vulnerable people. Many of the women who use the shelter will get moved on to another place before they can visit again. Pray that they would know how to show the kindness and compassion they need.

“Some of these women are from a Muslim background, some could be Christian,” says Christine. “The idea is more about conversation, about healing, about taking care of the most vulnerable in our society.

“If they ask for prayer we will pray for them. Through that, perhaps they will become a Christian, but the point is about hospitality, it’s about kindness… everything after that is in God’s hands.”

Without your gifts, Christine wouldn’t have been there to show kindness to the woman who escaped slavery. By supporting BMS, you stood alongside her, and helped her to feel valued and loved, even if only for a few hours. Please remember her in your prayers and when you give. Think of the love in the room she stepped into and how others so desperately need to feel that love today.

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