Robert and Judy arrived in France in September 2004 to begin their ministry of leadership development. Free Will Baptist churches in France are poised for growth and outreach. The congregations in Nantes, St. Sébastien, and St. Nazaire have developed specific plans for outreach and growth. However, success requires local Christians assume greater leadership roles both in the present churches and outreach churches.
Leadership development has taken on two distinct, but related, forms. One is Génération Leader, a program designed to give local church leaders the skills they need to minister effectively in their assemblies, as well as assist them in establishing new churches. Working with others, the Bryans are developing a program of training that touches four major areas of ministry: biblical knowledge, discipleship, biblical principles of leadership, and evangelism. This training will lay the foundation for growth in the lives of national leaders and for an expanded, stable outreach among the people of France.
Robert is also responsible for getting books translated both for the training of leaders and for evangelistic small groups.
The second element of leadership development involves the Leadership Matters Course (LMC), an international training course used among evangelical missions agencies for several years. Robert chairs the committee developing the French version of the program. This included translation, developing certified trainers, and setting up LMC sessions in various French-speaking countries. The first LMC in French was done in 2012 in Cameroon, Central Africa. A second course followed a year later. The Bryans anticipate holding two courses in 2014, including one in France. The goal is to see this course given in France and across the francophone world on a regular basis.
Robert and Judy were both reared in Christian homes. Robert accepted the Lord at age eight in a one-day revival at the First Free Will Baptist Church, Newport News, Virginia.
Judy was converted at the age of 12 in Coweta, Oklahoma.
During college Robert worked in the Department of Foreign Missions, first in shipping and then as editorial assistant on Heartbeat magazine. In 1968 he served for six months as a writer of News for You, a newspaper published by Laubach Literacy, Inc., for new readers.
The Bryans were appointed in April of 1968 and departed for language study in Switzerland in September 1969.
In addition to church-planting and discipleship, the Bryans’ ministry in Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) always included elements of teaching and training. The couple served three terms in the interior of the country in teaching and outreach with several churches. Judy ministered particularly with children and young people. Robert served for 18 months as editor of Champion Magazine, an evangelistic journal distributed in several African countries. In collaboration with other missionaries and church leaders, the Bryans were responsible for developing the materials for a series of seminars on discipleship and evangelism held in local churches throughout the association. They led a youth center at Tanda for three years in tandem with their work to reestablish a church in that town. For a short time they served as dorm parents at International Christian Academy (ICA) where their children later attended.
Their last three terms were spent in the economic capital of the country, Abidjan, a city of over 3.5 million inhabitants. For 12 years Robert was director of the Evangelical Publishing Center (called CPE after the name in French), where his duties included editorial oversight and administration. Judy was responsible for text entry and book layouts on computer. During those years, CPE published over 30 new titles and maintained a list of more than 125 titles that were sold throughout French-speaking Africa.
During their last term, they also worked with the emerging church in Abidjan. From a small number of people meeting monthly, the church grew to nearly 75 people meeting weekly in a rented hall. The Bryans worked with Jerry and Carol Pinkerton in developing and implementing plans for neighborhood outreach groups and training leaders for them. The church has continued to grow since the Bryans returned to the States in 1998. It has called an African pastor, moved to a larger location, and established a daughter church in another section of town.
The Bryans have two children. Their son, Jade Phillips, lives in Vermont. Jennifer, lives with her husband, Kelly Wright, and their two children, Tyler and Kourtney, near Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Bethany FWB Church, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Dear Prayer Warriors,
Pray for Michelle Chereau, a woman in the church, as she begins the new convert studies with Hillel. Hillel’s baptism has been scheduled for February 11.
The Young Families Group met Monday night. There were 9 there and we had a good lesson and time of discussion. We will be meeting next month to finish the lesson that Robert started. Continue to pray for these young couples as they have a desire to serve God.
This Saturday night, January 27, is Soirée JPense. Please pray for the preparation of the event. Pray also that many non-believers will attend and have open minds and hearts. We also welcome a new member to our mission team, Joel and Lydie Teague, announced the birth of their son Derek Joel. We are thankful for a healthy baby.
Starting Sunday, February 18, Robert will be preaching a three-week study on the objectives/purposes of the church to challenge the people to commit themselves to full participation in the ministry.
The two weekends of March 18 and 25, Dr. Doug Randlett, from Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, will be teaching on leadership. We hope to have between 40 and 60 participants from the various churches. This is a major event to prepare the leaders in the St Sébastien church as they assume the responsibility of leading the congregation.
Please pray especially for these two training times. Pray that the people will accept their responsibility and get involved in the ministry of the church. And pray especially for the leaders that they will recognize both the gravity and the joy of being a leader of God’s people.
And please pray for Dennis Teague and Robert as they plan for those two weekends in March. They have an enormous amount of work to do to get ready — and we have only eight weeks to do it in!
They plan to send out invitations for the March training this week. Pray that the invitees will recognize the importance of the training and will be willing to sacrifice their plans for those two weekends.
On February 25, we’ll hold the annual church business meeting. Pray that we can get everything prepared and that this meeting will serve as the launching of renewed enthusiasm and commitment to the church.
It is exciting to see what the Lord is doing, yes, and sometimes more than a little stressful, too. Thank you for helping us as we seek to serve.
For the Kingdom,