Hello there! If you’ve been reading my previous posts at all, then you may have noticed that I’ve mentioned a GEM missionary named Fran several times. I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to her so you could get a glimpse of the passion she has for this city and for God’s kingdom. We are all continually grateful for her heart of gold and willingness to share her wisdom (and incredible culinary talents) with us.
Originally from the Atlanta area, Fran answered God’s calling to come to Cologne in 2014. She has a sixteen year old daughter named Jessica, who is already fluent in German and looking forward to going to a German college in a couple of years. Since moving here, Fran has been involved in a range of ministries, from working with the German Red Cross to mentoring young adults from her church. Her apartment has become a home away from home for us, and she frequently has us over for bible study or to watch movies and eat home-cooked goodies. She has also taken the time to speak personally into my life, which I can tell you has already become one of the highlights of my summer.
I asked Fran to answer a few questions for this post so you could hear from her yourself! As a journalist, I have to disclose that the following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
JS: How did you end up in Cologne with GEM?
FG: That could potentially be a very long story! I clearly got a call to come to Germany, but I didn’t know that my home church [Fellowship Bible Church] had a thing going on with GEM. It wasn’t until after I said yes to God’s call in my heart that I learned they were sending short term teams to Cologne to partner with GEM people. I went on one of those week long trips, and it totally confirmed that this is where I needed to be. When I get back, my home church decided that they didn’t really know how to be a sending church, so they suggested I come through GEM. There’s a lot of details in between of all of that!
JS: What were some of your first reactions to receiving the call to become a missionary?
FG: Noooooooooooo! Honestly! I had been working in IT for thirty years, I was making six figures, my daughter was in the best schools Georgia could offer, and I was near my extended family. I had no idea what missions would be like. I had never even been on a mission trip before! I’m certainly not a theologian either! I argued with God. Then, my daughter also began seeing the signs of what God was telling us to do. We discussed it as a family of two whether we wanted to be like Jonah and avoid the call or be like Mary and say yes. So as scary as it was, we decided together to say yes.
JS: What are some of the things that have surprised you about being here in Cologne?
FG: One of the biggest things that surprises me is how much God really does provide for you, and how he makes it clear what you should be doing. He provides the people, he provides the means, if it really is meant to be. I’ve never really truly surrendered everything before until now. It surprises me that once you actually start doing that, how right it feels. Culturally, what surprises me most is just how different it really is here. You think it’s all just Western culture, but it surprises me how different it is from home. It’s the little things you miss.
JS: Do you have any prayer requests you’d like to share?
FG: I always ask for clear discernment on where God wants me spending my time because there is so much need here, and my deepest prayer is that I’m doing what will bear the most fruit for God’s kingdom and not just doing busy work. It’s very easy to get caught up in doing busy work. The other prayer is that we can be fully funded so we can continue to serve without worry. And for Jessica, please pray for protection over her. It is a dark place here, and there’s a lot of cultural gray areas. That’s difficult when you’re in your own formative years of your spiritual journey. Lastly, I need to be abiding in the Lord for me to speak his truth clearly. Please pray that I would be able to do that well, which includes taking the time to rest and listen to his voice. I’m not very good at resting!
And that’s just a snippet of her story! If you’d like to learn more about Fran and her work, you can request access to her own blog at onelifeatatime316.com.
Peace be with you.