France Population: 65 100 000 Life expectancy: 79.73 years Fertility rate: 2.02 children/woman School life expectancy: 15.

4 years Religion: Roman Catholic (61%), Non-religious (20%) Islam (10%), Protestant (1.4%), Jewish (1.2%) Other (6.4%) Democratic republic with strong executive presidency. A core member of the EU, but torn between being a good European state and retaining its own unique identity and culture.

Challenges for Prayer The insensitivity of the Anglophone Nations, especially England and the USA, hinder the acceptance of the gospel. Evangelical Christianity is seen as an Anglo-Saxon imposition on France together with the cultural, linguistic and economic ‘imperialisms’ perceived to be eroding the French way of life. France is at a crossroads. There is a brave fight against globalization, the need for radical reforms of the bloated welfare state, and state involvement in industry. The government needs courage to take painful decisions which are right for the country but resisted by those with vested interests. The non-religious have risen to 20% of the population and non-practicing ‘Christians’ have risen from 10% in 1970 to 50% in 2000. Regular church attendance has plummeted to 6 – 8% of the population. Great swathes of French society have no meaningful contact with a Christian church and have a profound ignorance of, and indifference to, the gospel. Without a dramatic change, Christianity is doomed to marginalized insignificance – pray for such a change! North Africans are almost entirely Muslim, few ever having heard the gospel. The majority live in large lowcost housing areas in larger cities. The growing hostility and racism of French ‘Christians’ have both antagonized them and provoked a strong, well-organized Muslim movement that complicates Christian outreach to them. Pray for French and international churches and agencies seeking to break down barriers through friendship evangelism, radio, film, and literature. Nearly 50 million French people have no real link with a Christian church. Most large cities have few evangelical churches – Nancy has 3 and Nantes, 8. Of the 38’000 communes, around 35’000 have no resident evangelical witness. Protestants were accepted at the Reformation, and at one stage some estimate that 48% of the French population had embraced the new teaching. Persecution in the 17th and 18th Centuries and humanism and nominalism in the 19th and 20th Centuries have reduced this to 1.4% today. Protestantism is a respected moral force less tainted by the ‘guilt’ of the Catholic Church, but is spiritually too compromised by liberal theology, universalism, and tolerance to exploit that advantage. Protestants are more numerous in Alsace and the south but nominalism and decline are too common. Yet there are staunch evangelical believers in most Reformed and Lutheran congregations. Pray for a restoration to the faith and commitment of their martyr forebears.

Head of Government: Prime Minister François Fillon As a member of the UMP party, Fillon became JeanPierre Raffarin's Minister of Labour in 2002 and undertook controversial reforms of the 35-hour working week law and of the French retirement system (Loi Fillon). He became Minister of Education and Research in 2004 and proposed the much debated Fillon law on Education. In 2005, he was not included in the new government headed by Dominique de Villepin, but was elected senator for the Sarthe département. His role as a political advisor in Nicolas Sarkozy's successful race for president led to his current role.

Chief of State: President Nicolas Sarkozy Sarkozy is known for wanting to revitalize the French economy. He has pledged to revive the work ethic, promote new initiatives and fight intolerance. In foreign affairs, he has promised a strengthening of the entente cordiale with the United Kingdom and closer cooperation with the United States. Generally speaking, Sarkozy is a bête noire of the Left, and is also criticized by some on the right, most vocally by the supporters of former President Jacques Chirac and former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.