Pictured Above: Valley Lutheran students, parent chaperones, and alumni gathered together in front of PDV (Parole de Vie) which translates to Word of Life in France for a July 2019 mission trip.

It happens every three years. And it happened, right on schedule, last July. Thirteen Valley students, eight parent chaperones, and two Valley alumni embarked on a weeklong mission trip to Parole de Vie (Word of Life) France. Word of Life is a ministry outreach focused on sharing the Gospel with the French youth.

This past summer Valley’s mission group assisted with “English Week,” a week that sees more non-Christian attendees, a week where the daily message is shared in English (and translated to French) and most of the songs are sung in English, too. “English Week” focuses on sharing the English language through games, Bible study, and competitions while also teaching the basics of the Gospel, creating a two-fold learning experience for French teens. While “English Week” is run by the missionaries serving at Word of Life, Valley’s mission team served the missionaries by holding a VBS for their children. The team cleaned bathrooms, prepared the cafeteria for meals, prepped for outdoor activities, and helped with anything else that was needed.

In 2019, though, things changed a bit. Due to French government regulations, the students from VL were not allowed to be volunteer workers because they were under the age of 18. So, what did they do instead? They attended “English Week” as campers. They immersed themselves in camp, interacting with, and witnessed to, the French teens on a more personal level. They formed meaningful, lasting

“The young people in France have a great struggle. Studies show that less than 2% of the country is Christian, so these students may be the only Christian in their family, in their school,” VL French teacher and chaperone Cris Urbytes shared. “It’s very difficult for them to live out their faith day by day, so it’s an awesome experience for our VL students to be a role model, to be a boost for their faith. And social media has helped that. The students get to communicate and encourage the friends they made while in France once they return to the USA.”

VL senior Lydia Schultz is returning to Parole de Vie this summer due to the relationships she formed last year. Planning to enter full-time mission work, Schultz said, “The way the counselors interacted with everyone was so influential. Their love for Jesus came through in all they do! I can’t pick a favorite highlight, the whole experience and the whole trip was amazing.”